PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Four-time defending Little East Conference regular-season and eight-time defending tournament champion Southern Maine received all eight first-place votes and 64 total points to claim the top spot in the annual pre-season women’s basketball coaches’ poll.
A year ago the Huskies completed another dominating run in conference play as they finished with a perfect 14-0 LEC record and an overall mark of 29-2. The Huskies eased through the LEC Tournament, en route to their eighth-consecutive tournament crown. All-time in LEC Tournament play, the Huskies have compiled a 39-3 record, with their last tournament loss coming in 1996. After two early round victories, USM fell in the sectional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament to eventual National Runner-Up, Bowdoin.
Rhode Island College finished second in the coaches’ poll with 48 total points. The Anchorwomen concluded last season with a 16-11 overall record, and a 7-7 mark in conference play which was good for third place. The 16-11 record was an improvement of 12.5 games from the previous season, which gave RIC the third-largest improvement from one season to another in NCAA Division III history. RIC returns a number of key players who led the squad to LEC Tournament Semi-Finals.
Rounding out the top half of the pre-season poll are a pair of possible contenders in Eastern Connecticut State and Keene State College. ECSU collected 44 points to place third, while KSC followed with 38 points in fourth place. Last year, the Warriors finished second in the league with an 11-3 conference mark and a 25-6 overall record. They advanced to the finals of both the LEC and ECAC Tournaments. The Owls finished last winter with an 11-14 overall record and a 6-8 mark in conference play, good for a fourth-place tie. KSC earned a spot in the LEC Tournament but fell in the first round to UMass Dartmouth.
Western Connecticut State (9-17; 5-9/6th) finished fifth in the poll with 35 points, while UMass Dartmouth (11-16; 6-8/Tied 4th) collected 24 points to place sixth.
Plymouth State University (10-16; 4-10/7th) received 23 points to finish seventh in the poll, and the University of Massachusetts Boston (7-17; 3-11/8th) followed in eighth place with 12 points.
2004-05 LEC Pre-Season Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll
1. Southern Maine (8) 64
2. Rhode Island College 48
3. Eastern Connecticut 44
4. Keene State 38
5. Western Connecticut 35
6. UMass Dartmouth 24
7. Plymouth State 23
8. UMass Boston 12
(first place votes in parentheses)