HARROGATE, Tenn. -- For the first time since the 1988-89 season and the first time since joining the NCAA, the Lincoln Memorial University women's basketball team will open the season nationally ranked. The Lady Railsplitters are ranked 24th in the WBCA NCAA Division II Coaches' Poll and 12th in the D2SIDA National Media Poll. Both polls were released on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
Last season the women's basketball team had their best-ever season, compiling a 28-5 record. The team also captured the program's first ever South Atlantic Conference championship with an impressive 19-3 run in SAC play and made the championship game of the Southeast Regional Tournament (the NCAA Tournament round of 16) for the first time. The team enters the season looking to take the next step and reach the NCAA Elite Eight, which this season will be held in conjunction with the men's Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They return four of their top six scorers from last year, led by second-team All-SAC performer Shea Coker. Joining Coker are Karsen Sims, Rachel Griffith and Emily Griffith. Other key returners are Ross Mathis, Sydney Duggins, Kendall Caudle, Dasia Maxwell (pictured) and Shermeria Quarles . This year's team will have a balance of experience as well as youth as there are eight newcomers joining the ten returners from last season. Defending national champion Ashland leads the way in both polls, garnering 23 of the 24 points in the coaches' poll and 1 of the 16 votes in the media poll. In the coaches' poll, Virginia Union claims the second spot, followed by Harding, Alaska-Anchorage and CSU-Pueblo. Bentley, Drury, Valdosta State, West Texas A&M and California (Penn.) round out the top 10. Of teams in the poll on LMU's schedule, fellow SAC member Wingate is 14th, followed by their season-opening opponent Lander at 15th. The media poll sees Harding claim the No. 2 spot, followed by Alaska-Anchorage, Columbus State and CSU-Pueblo. IUP, Bentley, Drury, Rollins and Virginia Union round out the top ten. Central Missouri is eleventh, followed by LMU at 12th. Lander is ranked 22nd in the poll, and Wingate is receiving votes. LMU opens up the 2017-18 campaign on Nov. 11 as they face Lander in the SAC/Peach Belt Conference Challenge. They will also face host USC-Aiken on Nov. 12 to close out that tournament. They then will travel to UVa-Wise for the first time since the 2000-01 season to face the Highland Cavaliers on Nov. 15 before their home opener vs. Clayton State on Nov. 18. The Lady Railsplitters ended Clayton State's season last year in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast Regional.
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