STANDISH, Maine – The D3hoops.com women's basketball preseason poll has been released and Saint Joseph's College is ranked 17th in the nation.
Saint Joseph's is the fourth team listed in the preseason rankings, as two-time reigning national champion Amherst College is first, Bowdoin College is second, and Tufts University is sixth.
Saint Joseph's, led by 26th-year Head Coach Mike McDevitt '83, is in the hunt for the program's fourth-consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship this winter after posting a 28-2 overall record, and an unblemished 16-0 mark versus GNAC foes, last season.
Last year's team established a new program mark for single-season victories and obliterated the previous SJC Athletics winning streak record (23) with 27-consecutive wins, a string that began with a win at Keene State College on November 18th and ended with a 53-47 setback against eventual National Champion Amherst College on March 3rd.
Ranked fourth in the final 2018 NCAA DIII Northeast Regional Rankings - behind Amherst, Tufts and Bowdoin, three teams that advanced to the Elite 8 of the 2018 NCAA Tournament - the Monks were among the national leaders in winning percentage (5th, 93.3%), scoring margin (5th, 23.4), three-point field goals made (5th, 252), assist/turnover ratio (8th, 1.24), three-point percentage (10th, 37.3%), three-pointers per game (11th, 8.4), assists (12th, 521), and points (15th, 2240).
Saint Joseph's, which capped the 2018 season ranked 23rd in the D3hoops.com final poll, set new program records for three-pointers made (252) and attempted (676) and posted the second-highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc (37.3%) since the 1992-93 campaign (37.6%, team record).
McDevitt, the winningest (506-186) and most successful (.731 winning percentage) coach in program history, claimed GNAC, State of Maine, and New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) Coach of the Year honors after the historic season.
The Monks return four starters from last year's lineup as seniors Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.), Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.), Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine), and Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) are back for their final season on the hardwood.
The aforementioned quartet has scored a total of 3,727 points over the last three seasons, a span during which the Monks have posted an incredible 74-13 (.851) overall record, including a 41-2 (.953) mark in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play.
During the seniors' time on the court, Saint Joseph's has the fifth-most wins and the eighth-highest winning percentage in all of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball.
As the top seed in the 2018 GNAC Tournament, the Monks defeated Mount Ida College and Albertus Magnus College in the quarter and semi finals, respectively, and toppled Suffolk University, 73-59, in the GNAC Championship at the Harold Alfond Center on February 24th. In the NCAA Tournament, St. Joe's drew Little East Conference Champion UMass.-Boston and rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat the Beacons, 61-56, and claim the first NCAA tourney triumph in program history.
Saint Joseph's faced off against reigning National Champion Amherst College - on their home court - in second round action the following day. In a game featuring six lead changes and five tie scores, the Monks pushed the Mammoths to the edge but eventually fell, 53-47, to a team went on to defend their national crown and extend their winning streak to 66 games in the process.
The Mammoths - who toppled Becker College, 61-12, in the first round - proceeded to defeat their following four NCAA Tournament opponents by an average of 18.3 points, including a 65-45 victory over Bowdoin College in the National Championship on March 17th.