STANDISH, Maine – The 2017-18 Saint Joseph's College women's basketball season begins tonight with a non-conference game at Maine Maritime Academy (5:30 PM).
The contest versus the Mariners opens a 25-game regular-season docket as the Monks look to claim their second-consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship. Saint Joseph's, which has won three of the last four conference titles, returns all but two players from a 2016-17 squad that went 24-5 overall – and 15-1 in GNAC play – last winter.
STARTS AT THE TOP:
Head Coach Mike McDevitt '83, who kicks off his 26th collegiate season (25 at SJC) tonight, is one of the most successful and respected coaches in NCAA DIII Women's Basketball. With a 500-191 (.724) career record, McDevitt ranks 18th among active head coaches in wins and 23rd in winning percentage. In the history of NCAA DIII women's hoops, only nine coaches have racked up more 20-win seasons than McDevitt, who has reached the 20-victory plateau on 17 occasions. He is also one of just 30 coaches in NCAA DIII Women's Basketball history to reach the 500-win mark.
Coach McDevitt has guided his teams to 11 conference championships and has garnered 10 Coach of the Year accolades during his career.
CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN:
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:
Last winter, Saint Joseph's went 24-5 overall with a 15-1 record in GNAC play en route to earning the top seed in the conference's North Division. In GNAC Tournament action, the Monks successfully defended the 2016 crown with three tourney triumphs, including the championship victory over Emmanuel. With the automatic qualifier awarded to the GNAC Champion, Saint Joseph's advanced to NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years, but saw the 2017 season come to a close with an opening-round 65-44 loss at the hands of #4 Tufts University – which advanced all the way to the national championship - on March 3rd.
The Monks lost two players from last year's roster – departed seniors Emily Kehoe and Abbie Eastman, a duo that helped Saint Joseph's post an 86-24 (.782) overall record, including a 41-8 (.837) mark in conference play, with three GNAC Championships and a trio of NCAA Tournament berths during their time on the hardwood. Kehoe and Eastman combined to net 248 points with 88 rebounds, 64 assists, and 30 steals during their final collegiate campaign.
Junior guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) leads the list of returners after garnering GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, GNAC Tournament MVP, First Team All-Conference, First Team All-State, NEWBA Second Team All-Region, and D3Hoops.com Third Team All-Northeast Region accolades last season. McNamara led the Royal Blue in scoring (16.1 PPG), three-pointers made (79), free-throws made (87), free-throw percentage (.806), assists (135), steals (47), and blocked shots (10) during her sophomore season.
Junior forward Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) averaged 13.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game during the 2016-17 campaign. She led the team in rebounding with the highest boards average since Alison Cropley pulled down 9.4 caroms per game during the 1996-97 season.
Senior post players Regan McFerran (Albany, N.Y.) and Brianne Maloney (South Portland, Maine) and juniors Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine) and Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) all return and bring plenty of experience to the court. All four players averaged north of six points per game last season, including Champagne, who enjoyed a breakout year with 8.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH:
Coach McDevitt brought in four newcomers for the 2017-18 campaign – two freshman and a pair of transfers. First-year guards Jordan Jabar (Waterville, Maine) and Madigan Cogger (York, Maine) bring athleticism and strong shooting skills to the table. Junior forward Vanese Barnes (Jay, Maine), a transfer from SMCC, and sophomore guard Grace Mulvey (Merrimack, N.H.), who played for Daniel Webster College last winter, add toughness and college basketball experience to the Monks' veteran roster.
She is not a newcomer, but sophomore Julia Quinn (Fryeburg, Maine) will get a fresh look this winter after coming in as a mid-year transfer from Endicott College last season. An athletic guard who can shoot, Quinn appeared in 11 contests for the Monks last year and likely would have logged more time if she had not suffered an injury early in her SJC stint.
GAMES TO SEE:
Sunday, November 26th vs. USM: The Monks' home-opener and annual Costello Cup matchup, the Monks look to post their third-consecutive win over the Huskies in a 5:30 PM start at the Harold Alfond Center. St. Joe's, which topped Southern Maine by a 67-63 score in Gorham last winter, has not defeated USM in three-straight meetings since posting wins over the Huskies during the 1993, 1994, and 1995 seasons.
Sunday, December 31st vs. Husson: Saint Joseph's and Husson clash for the 72nd time in a contest featuring two teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Monks look to ring out the Old Year and avenge a lopsided setback (77-50) at the hands of the Eagles last year (11/17 in Bangor) in a 1:00 PM start on their home court.
Tuesday, January 9th vs. Johnson & Wales: A rematch of the 2017 GNAC Semifinal contest which saw Saint Joseph's edge Johnson & Wales by a 91-90 score in double-overtime at the Alfond Center (2/23), this game will likely have early season playoff implications as both teams return the majority of their rosters from a year ago.
Monday, January 22nd vs. UNE: The Monks look to snap a 13-game skid at the hands of the Nor'easters in a non-conference matchup featuring a pair of 2017 NCAA Tournament qualifiers. UNE topped St. Joe's by a 74-45 margin in Biddeford last season (2/23).
CLOSER LOOK AT THE 2017-18 SCHEDULE/OPPONENTS:
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.