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Cajuns picked 8th in preseason SBC poll

Open the season November 7th against Loyola
Posted: 9:22 PM, Oct 31, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-31 22:22:21-04
Louisiana Basketball Skylar Goodwin.jpg

NEW ORLEANS — The Little Rock Trojans have been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2019-20 Sun Belt Conference women's basketball title and South Alabama junior forward, Antoinette Lewis, was chosen as the Preseason Player of the Year in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, the Conference office announced on Wednesday.

The league also announced its Preseason All-Sun Belt First, Second and Third Teams.

The Trojans received six of the 12 first-place votes and tallied 127 points. Little Rock won both the Sun Belt regular-season and tournament titles last year after posting a 21-11 (15-3 Sun Belt) record. It was the third tournament title in the last five years for the Trojans.

Three of five starters from last year’s NCAA tournament team return in 2019-20, led by senior guard Kyra Collier, a 2018-19 All-Sun Belt First Team member and the 2019 Sun Belt tournament Most Outstanding Player. Collier was selected to the Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team and teammate, junior guard, Tori Lasker was selected to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team.

Troy was picked second for the second-straight season, earning four first-place votes and 123 points. Troy finished third in the league a season ago, finishing with a 22-9, 13-5 record. The Trojans led the league in scoring for the seventh consecutive season and return three of its five starters from a season ago, including Preseason All-Sun Belt selections Amber Rivers (Second Team) and Japonica James (Third Team).

UTA was picked to finish third as the Mavericks garnered 120 points in the voting and a single first-place vote. The Mavericks are coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history as UTA secured the program's first Sun Belt regular season championship, made their sixth postseason tournament appearance (WNIT) and won a postseason game for the first time in program history. UTA finished the season with 24 wins, with 13 coming in Sun Belt play.

South Alabama was picked to finish fourth in the league. The Jaguars earned 119 points and received the final first-place vote. The Jags enter the season coming off a school-record 25 wins and their second national postseason tournament appearance in as many years after advancing to the second round of the WNIT. It was the second consecutive season the Jaguars posted 20-plus wins and first time since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

USA returns four of its five starters from last year’s team, including Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team selections Lewis and Savannah Jones and Third Team selection, Shaforia Kines.

Appalachian State rounds out the women’s top five teams as the Mountaineers were picked to finish fifth this season. Bayley Plummer, a Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team selection and Pre Stanley, a Preseason All-Sun Belt Third Team selection, lead the Mountaineers. App State posted their best season in recent Mountaineer history with a 22-14 mark capped off with their second Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) championship. App State joined Arizona, VCU, Tennessee Tech, Old Dominion and Ohio as one of the six most improved teams in the country - having won just eight games the year before.

USA’s Lewis is the league's Preseason Player of the Year after posting an average of 14.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per outing, shooting 58.4 percent from the floor while adding 64 blocks, 41 steals and 39 assists. She led the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks, steals and field-goal percentage while being the only member of the squad to start and appear in all 36 games for the Jags. Lewis led the Sun Belt in double-doubles and field-goal percentage, was second in blocks per game, third in rebounds per game and fifth in scoring.

Coastal Carolina's DJ Williams, and Georgia State's Jada Lewis join Little Rock's Collier, and South Alabama's Jones and Lewis on the Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team.

The 2019-20 season begins on Tuesday, Nov. 5. This season’s conference schedule features an 18-game slate with 10 teams advancing to the 2020 Sun Belt Women’s Basketball Championship. The tournament begins with first-round games on Tuesday, March 10 and quarterfinal games on Wednesday, March 11 hosted on campus sites. The four women's teams that advance from the quarterfinals will then converge on New Orleans and the Smoothie King Center, home of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, for semifinals games on Saturday, March 14 and the Championship game on Sunday, March 15. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will receive byes directly to the semifinals. The Championship game of the tournament is set for 6:00 p.m. CT. All tournament games will be carried live on the ESPN family of networks.

2019-20 Conference Women's Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Poll
first-place votes in parentheses

1. Little Rock (6) - 127 pts
2. Troy (4) - 123 pts
3. UTA (1) - 120 pts
4. South Alabama (1) - 119 pts
5. Appalachian State - 100 pts
6. Georgia State - 73 pts
7. Coastal Carolina - 66 pts
8. Louisiana - 64 pts
9. Texas State - 59 pts
10. Arkansas State - 44 pts
11. Georgia Southern - 26 pts
12. ULM - 15 pts

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team
DJ Williams, Coastal Carolina (Senior, Guard, Moreno Valley, Calif.)
Jada Lewis, Georgia State (RS-Junior, Guard, Power Springs, Ga.)
Kyra Collier, Little Rock (Senior, Guard, N. Little Rock, Ark.)
Savannah Jones, South Alabama (RS-Junior, Guard, Ocean Springs, Miss.)
Antoinette Lewis, South Alabama (Junior, Forward, Memphis, Tenn.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team
Bayley Plummer, Appalachian State (Senior, Center, Thomasville, N.C.)
Alexis Brown, Georgia Southern (Senior, Guard, Madison, Ga.)
Tori Lasker, Little Rock (Junior, Guard, Mayflower, Ark.)
Claire Chastain, UTA (Sophomore, Guard, Shawnee, Okla.)
Amber Rivers, Troy (Senior, Forward, Birmingham, Ala.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt Third Team
Pre Stanley, Appalachian State (Junior, Guard, Rockledge, Fla.)
Peyton Martin, Arkansas State (Junior, Forward, Pine Bluff, Ark.)
Shaforia Kines, South Alabama (Senior, Guard, Birmingham, Ala.)
Katie Ferrell, UTA (Sophomore, Forward, Plano, Texas)
Japonica James, Troy (Senior, Forward, Mobile, Ala.)

Preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year
Antoinette Lewis, South Alabama (Junior, Forward, Memphis, Tenn.)