Stonehill returns all five starters and 11 letterwinners from last year's squad which reached the regional semifinals. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)
Skyhawks earn highest preseason ranking since 2008
EASTON, Mass. (October 29, 2013) – Stonehill College is ranked seventh in the USA Today Sports Division II women's basketball preseason coaches' poll released by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) this afternoon.
It marks Stonehill's highest national ranking since the Skyhawks were ranked fourth in the January 6, 2009 poll and the program's highest preseason ranking since the 2008-09 season when it was ranked fifth. Stonehill, which made its 21st NCAA Tournament appearance last season, returned to the Top 25 last January for the first time since dropping out in December, 2010, and the Skyhawks were ranked each of the final 11 polls of the season, with a final national ranking of 11th after reaching the East Regional semifinals. Eventual NCAA Division II finalists Dowling College, ranked 16th in the preseason poll, defeated the Skyhawks 57-45 in the regional semis.
Northeast-10 Conference rival Bentley University (30-2, 21-1 NE-10) is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, while Assumption College (22-8, 17-5 NE-10), Franklin Pierce University (18-11, 14-8 NE-10) and Pace University (14-13, 12-10 NE-10) are among teams receiving votes from the Conference. Other East Regional teams appearing in the preseason Top 25 are No. 11 Holy Family (Pa.) University (28-3, 18-1 CACC) from the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, and No. 16 Dowling (30-3, 16-1 ECC) from the East Coast Conference.
Stonehill returns all five starters and 11 letterwinners from its 2012-13 squad, which posted a 24-5 record overall, including a 19-3 mark in NE-10 play to finish second in the Conference standings. Senior Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) earned honorable mention All-America honors from the WBCA and Division II Bulletin and was a Daktronics second team All-East Region pick as well as a first team All-Northeast-10 selection. She started all 29 games for Stonehill and averaged a team-high 14.1 points (9th NE-10), adding 6.6 rebounds (18th), a team-best six assists (2nd NE-10 and 3rd nationally) and 1.2 steals in 33 minutes (15th) per game. She enters the season just two points shy of 1,000 career points.
Classmate Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) also started all 29 games last season and averaged 12.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and a blocked shot per game. Junior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) was named to the All-NE-10 second team and contributed 12.2 points and 8.0 rebounds with 1.8 blocks and 1.9 assists in 29 starts last winter, shooting 51.4-percent from the field.
Stonehill (24-5, 19-3 NE-10) opens its 2013-14 schedule next Saturday, November 9, against Barry (Fla.) University at the Nova Southeastern University Tip Off Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at 2 p.m. The Skyhawks will then face host and preseason No. 4-ranked Nova Southeastern on Sunday, November 10, at noon. The Sharks posted a 23-9 record in 2012-13, including an 11-5 clip in the Sunshine State Conference, on its way to the Division II Elite Eight. Stonehill's first home game is Wednesday, November 20, when it hosts Merrimack College for their Northeast-10 Conference opener in Merkert Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m.