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Panthers receive six of eight first-place votes
HALIFAX – First-year head coach Matt Gamblin and his UPEI Panthers have been selected as the pre-season favourites to capture the 2018-19 banner in Atlantic University Sport women's basketball, according to the coaches' poll released Thursday.
This marks the fourth year for the AUS pre-season coaches poll, which is voted on by the league's eight head coaches, who rank the other seven squads, and are not permitted to vote for their own teams.
The Panthers received six first-place votes and 48 points to come in at No. 1.
UPEI and former head coach Greg Gould finished third in the AUS standings last year at 11-9 (won-lost). At the AUS championship in Halifax, the Panthers defeated UNB 76-70 in quarter-final action, upset Cape Breton 78-73 in the semifinals, before falling to the top-seeded Acadia Axewomen in the final 80-58.
Last season’s AUS rookie-of-the-year Reese Baxendale returns to UPEI after starting in all 20 contests, averaging 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
UPEI will also look to Carolina Del Santo, the reigning defensive player of the year, second-team all-star Jenna Mae Ellsworth and senior Jane McLaughlin to be key contributors as they chase their first Atlantic conference banner since 1997-98.
In the men’s poll, the Dalhousie Tigers finished in first with 47 points, three more than Saint Mary’s.
The Panthers were eighth with seven points.
The 2018-19 regular seasons open this week.
AUS basketball coaches poll:
1. UPEI (6), 48 points.
2. Cape Breton (1), 40.
T3. Memorial (1), 35.
T3. Acadia, 35.
5. UNB, 23.
6. Dalhousie, 19.
7. Saint Mary's, 17.
8. St. Francis Xavier, 7.
1. Dalhousie (5), 47 points.
2. Saint Mary’s (3), 44.
3. UNB, 36.
4. Acadia, 32.
5. St. Francis Xavier, 25.
6. Cape Breton, 19.
7. Memorial, 14.
8. UPEI, 7.
Note: First-place votes in parenthesis.