PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's basketball team will have home court advantage in five of its first six games this season, beginning this weekend when it hosts the Days Inn of Campton Women's Basketball Tip-Off Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
The Panthers will face Daniel Webster College Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the tournament opener, with New England College and Wellesley College squaring off in the second game at 7:30 p.m. The consolation game is set for Saturday at 2:00 p.m., with the championship game to follow at 4:00 p.m.
Plymouth State has solid history in recent season-opening tourneys. The Panthers captured the championship of the MIT Tip-Off Tournament in 1999, the Colby Tip-Off Classic in 2000, the Swarthmore Tip-Off Tourney in 2001, and the Cobblestone Inn Tournament in 2005. PSU won the consolation game last season over Simmons College after an opening-night loss to Norwich.
PSU will play three more non-conference games, including home contests against Castleton State College and Salem State College, before the Little East Conference opener against Eastern Connecticut State University on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Foley Gymnasium.
Plymouth State will play a competitive 25-game schedule this season, including 14 Little East affairs. The LEC Tournament begins the last week of February, with a champion being crowned on Mar. 1 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2007-08 PSU Women's Basketball Outlook
Led by 10th-year head coach Lauren Lavigne, the Panthers are looking to move up in the Little East Conference standings."
"We've taken a step by step approach," said Lavigne (right). "We're aiming for things like winning the tip-off tournament, having a winning record at the break, improving in the conference. Our goal is to win the conference, but obviously winning the LEC in women's basketball isn't easy. We want to have a home game in the first round of the LEC Tournament, and that's something we can definitely achieve."
The Panthers have 10 veterans returning, including four of the top five starters from a year ago. Lavigne says this year's group should be improved over last season.
"We took our lumps last year playing a lot of young people," says Lavigne, "and that should be to our advantage this year. We're also going to try to use a smaller number in our rotation this year, and that's led to a more competitive situation in practice."
Leading the group of returnees is sophomore guard/forward Karly Gray (Southampton, Mass./Williston Northampton), senior forward Lauren Daniels (Concord, N.H./Concord), and junior guard Annie Alosa (Concord, N.H./Manchester Trinity). Gray led the team in scoring last year with 9.2 points per game, while Daniels was second in scoring (7.3 ppg) and the team's leading rebounder (4.4 rpg). Alosa finished fourth on the team in scoring (5.6 ppg), and made a team-high 30 three-point baskets.
Lavigne says that freshman forward Amanda Kania (Manchester, N.H./West) is an outstanding addition to the team and could make an impact.
"These ladies give us a group of talented players to build around," said Lavigne, "and we have to continue to foster that."
Senior point guards Meg MacDonald (Salem, N.H.) and Joy DePalo (Enfield, N.H./Mascoma) will also see plenty of playing time. Junior forward Kayla Morin (Pascoag, R.I./Burrillville) and sophomore forward Laura Kent (Bellingham, Mass.) are also likely to be solid contributors. Lavigne said freshmen Alex Marcell (Pittsford, Vt./New Hampton-N.H.) and sophomore Kalie Judd (Peabody, Mass./Veterans Memorial) are newcomers who will try to find a spot in the Panther rotation.
Junior Sam Naas (South Hero, Vt./South Burlington) and sophomore Emily Bryant (Anchorage, Alaska/South Anchorage) are a pair of forwards who are coming off injuries or illnesses and are hoping to fill in. Rounding out the roster is sophomore guard Gretchen Fritch (South Boston, Mass./Fontbonne Academy), freshmen Molly Broda (Southampton, Mass./Holyoke Catholic), Liz Whalley (North Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet), and Jenna Nagy (Kennebunk, Maine) and sophomore Katie Sunderland (Londonderry, N.H.)
"For the first time in a long time, we have a big team this year," says Lavigne. "They have worked extremely hard since last spring, more so than other years, so we could be in for a good season."
-- 30 --