BOSTON, Mass. – The UMBC women's basketball team was tabbed to finish second in the America East this season in the annual coaches' preseason poll, the league announced on Wednesday. Voting was conducted by the conference's nine head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own team.
The Retrievers received 53 votes and two first place votes after finishing 18-14 overall and 8-8 in league play in 2015-16, for a third place finish. UMBC picked up its first win in the postseason when they defeated Fairfield, 61-49 in the WBI Tournament.
Head coach Phil Stern returns for his 15th season at the head of the women's program, returning seven letterwinners from last year's team, including seniors Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) and Pandora Wilson (Gaithersburg, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) who earned All-Conference honors last season.
"We don't put that much into preseason polls but it's nice to be recognized," Stern said. "We've come a long way in the last three years but we have a lot of work to do and our players know that."
The America East is coming off one of its most successful seasons in conference history, finishing with a conference RPI of 17, its best since 2010. Four America East teams earned postseason bids last year (Albany, Maine, UMBC and Stony Brook), marking that eighth time in the last nine seasons that at-least three teams were featured in the postseason. For just the second time in conference history, multiple teams won postseason games including Albany's upset of Florida in the NCAA First Round and UMBC defeating Fairfield in the WBI first round.
Five-time defending league champion Albany Great Danes were picked as the preseason favorites, earning five of the nine first place votes and 60 points overall. After a trip to the championship game last year, Maine earned two first-place votes and 51 total points to follow UMBC.
After an 8-8 finish in league play, Binghamton picked up 49 votes for fourth place, while Stony Brook was picked to finish fifth with 36 votes. New Hampshire was picked sixth with 24 points, while Hartford followed close behind at seventh with 23. Rounding out the poll are Vermont (20) and UMass Lowell (8).
UMBC opens the 2016-17 schedule with a trip to the Big Apple to face Columbia on Nov. 11 before returning home for a four-game homestand. America East action begins for the Retrievers on January 4 in Binghamton.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the America East Championships are set to be held at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine on March 4-5, followed by the championship game on March 10, hosted by the highest remaining seed.
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2016-17 America East Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
- Albany, 60 (5)
- UMBC, 53 (2)
- Maine, 51 (2)
- Binghamton, 49
- Stony Brook, 36
- New Hampshire, 24
- Hartford, 23
- Vermont, 20
- UMass Lowell, 8