New-look Panthers hope to compete in challenging league
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – 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 nine head coaches.
Defending tournament champion Eastern Connecticut was chosen to repeat after collecting six first place votes for 60 points. UMass Boston (52) earned two first place votes, with Rhode Island College (47) taking one to round out the top three.
UMass Dartmouth (43) finished just ahead of Southern Maine (40) for fourth place, with Castleton and WestConn tied for sixth with 28 points. Keene State (18) and Plymouth State (8) occupy the final two spots in the poll.
Interim head coach Leah Swanson is looking to shock the conference with a roster that features five returners and ten freshmen. PSU went 10-14 overall a year ago, including a 4-12 mark in the LEC that equaled the second most conference wins in the last decade.
Senior Chenysse Hill (Lynn, Mass.) and junior Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, N.H.) will provide upperclassmen leadership as the team's co-captains. Hill is the primary ball-handler, as the point guard was second on the team with 45 assists and added 38 steals, while McLaughlin was a solid two-way player averaging 5.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, tops among returners.
Senior Brittany Roche (Londonderry, N.H.) is the top returning scorer after averaging 6.8 points per game last winter. The three-point specialist connected 32 times from beyond the arc, including a 6-of-11 effort in the Panthers' 89-87, double overtime win over league-leading UMass Dartmouth last February.
Junior Mary Beitzel (Lancaster, Pa.) and senior Alex Ricard (Manchester, N.H.) offer additional experience to the front court as the Panthers will look for key contributions from a throng of newcomers.
Plymouth State kicks off the season on Nov. 12 with a home contest against Northern Vermont-Johnson at 5:30 p.m.
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