COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team was selected to place seventh among eight teams in the Northeast Division in the Northeast-10 Conference's preseason poll, which was released by the league office on Wednesday and chosen by the member institutions' head coaches.
With 36 points, the Purple Knights were 10 short of sixth-place Merrimack College. Bentley University, which is sixth in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) preseason national poll, garnered 103 points to top the Northeast Division in the NE10 rankings.
The NE10 begins its fifth season with its 15 teams split between two divisions, with eight competing in the Northeast Division and seven in the Southwest Division. All teams will play either 20 or 22 conference games, depending upon division, and the top five squads from each division will qualify for the 10-team NE10 Championship.
The Purple Knights went 12-14 overall and 10-11 in the NE10 last season, and lost two seniors but gained a pair of newcomers. They stood in a three-way tie for second place in the NE10 Northeast Division with four games to play last year before, without leading scorer Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams), dropping the final four games and losing the tie-breaker for the fifth and final postseason berth from the division. While improving their league record by four wins, they won at eventual NCAA Tournament qualifier Assumption College on Nov. 19 before defeating 23rd-ranked Saint Anselm College on Nov. 22. During the season the squad recorded most blocks (108) since 1998-99 and allowed 60 points or fewer 13 times.
The program is returning its top three scorers, two of the top three in assists, its top two shot blockers, and three regular starters. Spencer, now a senior, and junior forward Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East), the team's first- and second-leading scorers last season, respectively, are back. Spencer turned in 15.0 points and 5.2 rebounds on 40.6 percent shooting from her guard position with 26 three-pointers. Delaney averaged 11.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks as she finished third in the NE10 in blocks per game. Junior Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) posted 9.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.0 steals while shooting 75.0 percent from the charity stripe.
Under fifth-year head coach Shannon Kynoch, the Purple Knights head to Connecticut for the season-opening University of Bridgeport Women's Basketball Classic this weekend. Saint Michael's opposes the host in its opener on Saturday at 4 p.m. before taking on the University of the District of Columbia on Sunday at 12 p.m.