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Emmanuel Tops Women’s Basketball Pre-Season Poll

BOSTON, Mass. – After finishing the 2011-12 campaign with an overall record of 25-7 and advancing to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight, the Emmanuel College women's basketball team earned the top spot in the 2012-13 Great Northeast Athletic Conference women's basketball Pre-Season Coaches' Poll with a total of 144 points. The two, three and four spots were separated by just three points as Rivier University ranked second with 118 points followed by Suffolk University with 116 and Saint Joseph's College (ME) with 115 points.

The Saints, who enter the year with six consecutive GNAC titles, return a core of veterans from last year's squad including senior forward Fiona O'Dwyer (Stamford, Conn.) who set the GNAC single-season field goal record last year with 217 field goals. Alongside O'Dwyer in the block will be sophomore forward Lena Negri (Arlington, Va.) who enjoyed an impressive rookie campaign averaging 8.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

The Raiders from Rivier debut in the No. 2 spot with 118 points after a strong 2011-12 campaign in which they posted an 18-10 record with an 11-2 conference mark. Rivier returns sophomore guard Deanna Purcell (Hudson, N.H.) who averaged 20.8 ppg as a freshman en route to being named the GNAC Rookie of the Year. Leading the way is head coach Paul Williams who was tabbed as the 2011-12 GNAC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.

Coming in the No. 3 spot was Suffolk University with 116 points and the only other number one vote. The Rams wrapped up last season with an 18-10 record, earning an ECAC tournament bid. Suffolk returns its two leading scorers from a year ago in senior guard Jacqueline Vienneau (Salem, N.H.) and junior forward Jennifer Ruys (Wallingford, Conn.), who combined to average over 24 points per game.

Saint Joseph's College (ME) came in just a point behind the Rams with 115 points after falling in the 2012 GNAC Championship game to Emmanuel, 68-57. The Monks graduated two of its leading scorers from last season but do return junior forward Lindsay Moore (Barrington, R.I.) who averaged 10.1 ppg last year and will look to carry more of the scoring load this year.

Rounding out the top five teams was Norwich University with 92 points. The Cadets welcome a large recruiting class of seven freshman student-athletes while returning sophomore guard Aliah Curry (Windsor, Mass.) who led the team in points last year averaging 18.2 per game.

The University of Saint Joseph (CT) claimed the No. 6 spot in the poll with 88 points while Emerson College finished in the 7th spot with 79 points. Johnson & Wales University was tabbed the No. 8 team with 73 points while Albertus Magnus College was 9th with 53 points.

Lasell College rounds out the top 10 with 46 points while Mount Ida College finished in the 11th spot with 38 points. Simmons College earned the No. 12 ranking with 33 points while Anna Maria College rounded out the poll in the 13th spot with 17 points.

The Great Northeast Athletic Conference is an NCAA Division III conference made up of 13 institutions with nine associate members. In 2012-13, the GNAC will sponsor championships in 17 sports for men and women. The GNAC also enjoys outstanding professional partnerships with Children's Hospital Sports Medicine Division, Doubletree Hotels, Fenway Printers, New Balance, Reading Trophy and Presto Sports.

2012-13 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Pre-Season Coaches' Poll

Rank Institution First Place           Total Points
1 Emmanuel College 12           144
2 Rivier University             118
3 Suffolk University 1           116
4 Saint Joseph's College (ME)             115
5 Norwich University              92
6 Univ. of Saint Joseph (CT)              88
7 Emerson College              79
8 Johnson & Wales University              73
9 Albertus Magnus College              53
10 Lasell College              46
11 Mount Ida College              38
12 Simmons College              33
13 Anna Maria College              17