Quakers, Generals, Yellow Jackets Share First Place Votes
FOREST, Va. --- The last time the top-ranked team in the ODAC preseason poll won the conference title was in 2016-17 when Guilford College stood at the top. Quakers fans will hope the same holds true this season.
Guilford is one of three teams to earn first place consideration in the 2019-20 ODAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll, with the Quakers topping the annual coaches' survey with 139 points including seven first place votes. Washington and Lee University, last year's conference runner-up, sits second with 127 markers including three top nods. Randolph-Macon College landed the remaining three first place votes on the way to 123 tallies.
Four teams are separated by just seven points in the second of four distinct segments to the poll results. University of Lynchburg is fourth with 99 points, while Emory & Henry College and Roanoke College tied for fifth with 95 points. Last season's conference champion, Shenandoah University, chimes in seventh with 92 points.
Shenandoah put together the most improbable run to the ODAC title in conference history in 2018-19 as the eighth-seeded Hornets were the lowest seed to ever hoist the league's women's basketball trophy. Their championship path began with a 79-60 home win in the first round over Bridgewater College. In Salem, Shenandoah became the first eight seed to defeat a #1 seed in the Hornets' 52-49 overtime triumph in the quarterfinals. SU put itself in the title game with a 58-41 over Randolph-Macon in the semifinals.
Washington and Lee, playing as the third seed, made the program's second-ever appearance in an ODAC championship game. To get there, the Generals outlasted Lynchburg, 79-77, in the quarterfinals before enjoying a wider margin of victory in the semifinals with an 83-62 win over Roanoke.
The championship game opened fairly methodically with points hard to come by early on. Shenandoah worked its way to a bit of an edge by the end of the first period via a 14-10 scoreline at the first break. SU moved out to a seven-point lead immediately in the second frame, but W&L quickly closed the advantage to two points. The Hornets enjoyed several iterations of a two-point lead throughout the remainder of the half until the final minute when they took a 24-20 lead into halftime.
SU again came out of the locker room strong and pushed a 28-20 lead only to see Washington and Lee reign it back in to 30-27 at the midpoint of the third period. SU buried a trio of three-points late-on, giving it a 43-31 lead heading to the final frame. W&L got as close as four points on a couple of occasions, the last at 53-49 with 1:32 to go, but that's as close as the Generals would get with SU extending their lead thereafter thru the final horn on the way to the program's first ODAC title.
RELATED: 2019 ODAC Tournament Results
Shenandoah was the lone team to represent the ODAC in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Hornets' first round outing at DeSales University (Pa.) came exactly 19 years to the day from their previous appearance. SU's stay in the field of 64 last just the one game as the host Bulldogs registered a 77-49 win, marking their 21st straight victory.
RELATED: 2019 NCAA Tournament Results
ODAC fans will have plenty of familiar faces to support in 2019-20 as 12-of-18 All-ODAC honorees from a season ago return to league rosters. Washington and Lee leads the charge with three all-conference honorees back in Lexington. Guard Taylor Casey featured on the All-ODAC First Team, while guard Erin Hughes earned a spot on the All-ODAC Second Team in addition to the league's first ODAC Defensive Player of the Year award. Forward Andy Smithey was an All-ODAC Third Team selection.
Emory & Henry, Guilford, and Randolph-Macon each welcome back two returners from award teams. Second team forward Sydney McKinney leads E&H along with forward Peyton Williams. GC features first team forward Miracle Walters as well as second team forward Lindsay Gauldin, who doubled as the ODAC Rookie of the Year. R-MC returns a pair of second team forwards in Michal Ross and Charlotte Woods. The Yellow Jackets should also be buoyed by the return of former All-American and 2018 player of the year, Kelly Williams.
The remaining three All-ODAC returners wear Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Shenandoah jerseys. Lynchburg welcomes back third team guard Maggie Quarles, while Roanoke returns its own third team guard in Whitney Hopson. Third team forward Ashley Stone bolsters Shenandoah's roster.
RELATED: 2019 All-ODAC Awards
The 2019-20 schedule begins with non-conference play on Friday, November 8. The start of conference play is set for Tuesday-Thursday, November 19-21. The regular season closes on Saturday, February 22 with tournament play beginning with first round action on Monday, February 24. The two first-round winners will join the top six seeds at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va., for the quarterfinals on Thursday, February 27. The semifinals and finals will be Saturday, February 29, and Sunday, March 1, also at the Salem Civic Center.
Listed below is the 2019-20 ODAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll. Be sure to check out the preseason capsules for each team as well (online version only click HERE for the online release).
For more information on ODAC women's basketball, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter and Instagram.
2019-20 ODAC Women's Basketball Preview Capsules
2019-20 ODAC Women's Basketball Preseason Interviews