Panthers' returning core hoping to shock the league
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Despite returning the top eight leading scorers from a year ago, the Plymouth State University women's basketball team was picked to finish ninth in the Little East Conference (LEC) following a vote of the league's head coaches.
Defending regular season champion University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was picked to repeat after collecting five first place votes for 60 points. University of Massachusetts Boston, which went on to capture the LEC Tournament title a year ago, grabbed two first place votes for 55 points, while Southern Maine (50 points) and Eastern Connecticut (48 points) each collected single first place votes.
Western Connecticut (30 points) was picked fifth, while Rhode Island College and Keene State (23 points) finished tied for sixth. LEC newcomer Castleton University (19 points) finished just ahead of the Panthers (16) to round out the poll. The LEC's release and full poll results can be found here.
With a strong nucleus of upperclassmen the Panthers hope to surprise the league in 2018-19. Senior Jess Conant (Canton, Maine) returns as the team's leading scorer. The 5-9 guard averaged 16.9 points per game a year ago, the fifth highest average in the LEC, while pulling down 5.8 rebounds per game.
Classmate Cassidy Emerson (Concord, N.H.) provided PSU with toughness under the basket, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game (eighth most in the league) to go with her 9.4 points per contest, while senior Debra Morrill (Concord, N.H.) did a bit of everything for the Panthers a year ago. The 5-5 guard averaged 7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals a game last winter as the team's primary ball-handler.
Sharp-shooting junior Brittany Roche (Londonderry, N.H.) is the team's go-to option from long range. Roche drained a team-best 50 shots from distance last year, shooting at a 31.1% clip from downtown – a mark that was among the conference's best. The Panthers also expect big things from sophomore Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, N.H.), who matched the team lead with three double-doubles after averaging 8.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game as a freshman.
The Panthers kickoff the 2018-19 campaign on Nov. 9 with a non-conference match-up with New England College at Foley Gymnasium. Tip-off for the team's Salute the Troops game is set for 5:00 p.m.
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