GORHAM, Maine - The University of Southern Maine received four first place votes and 53 total points to narrowly edge Eastern Connecticut State University (52 points) and earn top honors in the annual Little East Conference poll of the women's basketball head coaches.
The Huskies swept the 2002-03 regular season and tournament crowns, marking their seventh consecutive conference tournament title, and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, before finishing the year with an overall mark of 26-4. In regular-season play, the Huskies compiled a 13-1 league ledger.
Eastern Connecticut, which received the remaining three first place votes, put together a late season charge a year ago that resulted in an appearance in the national championship game, where it suffered a 60-58 setback to Trinity University of Texas. The Warriors concluded league play in second place with a 12-2 record, while they posted a 28-5 overall slate.
Keene State College collected 39 points to finish third, while Western Connecticut State University followed in fourth with 34 points, and Plymouth State University was sixth with 28 points. A year ago, Keene State advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament before concluding the year with an overall mark of 16-12. Plymouth State, which bowed to Southern Maine in the conference finals, captured the ECAC title and finished the year at 23-8.
Rhode Island College collected 18 points to narrowly finish sixth ahead of the University of Massachusetts Boston, which tallied 17 points, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth tallied 12 points to finish eighth.
The eight conference members will play a 14-game regular-season league schedule, consisting of home and away contests against the league's seven foes. All eight league teams will participate in the 2004 Little East Conference Tournament, in which the top four teams will host quarterfinal round games on Tuesday, February 24. The highest-remaining seed will host the semifinals and championship game scheduled for Friday and Saturday, February 28-29.
The Little East Conference Tournament champion will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Little East Conference Women's Basketball Pre-Season Coaches' Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Pts
1. University of Southern Maine (4) 53
2. Eastern Connecticut State University (3) 52
3. Keene State College 39
4. Western Connecticut State University 34
5. Plymouth State University 28
6. Rhode Island College 18
7. University of Massachusetts Boston 17
8. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 12
(Courtesy of The Little East Conference)
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