WINTHROP, Mass. - The University of Saint Joseph women's basketball team was picked tenth in the 2017-18 GNAC Preseason Coaches' Poll announced on Monday afternoon by the league's front office. The annual poll is voted upon by the conference's 13 head coaches. The Blue Jays will open up the 2017-18 campaign on the road at Bay Path on Wednesday at 8 p.m. before hosting the 20th Annual USJ Tip-Off Tournament on Friday and Saturday inside the O'Connell Center.
Saint Joseph's College of Maine and Emmanuel (Mass) were selected to finish atop the GNAC. Saint Joseph's received nine of a possible 13 first-place votes and 162 poll points, while Emmanuel received two first-place votes and 153 points to take the second spot in the GNAC poll.
Johnson & Wales was just behind Emmanuel in the poll for third place with 152 points and two first-place tallies. The Wildcats get underway at Salve Regina on Saturday, Nov. 18 before taking on William Smith the following weekend at the NYU Tip-Off Tournament.
Newest GNAC member Regis (Mass.) took the fourth spot in the preseason poll with 113 points. The Pride, who won five straight NECC Championships and 112 straight NECC regular-season games dating back the 2010-11 season before joining the GNAC, will take on MIT and Tufts this weekend at the Tufts Invitational.
Suffolk University rounded out the top-five in the poll with 111 points, followed by Norwich University (104), Albertus Magnus College (102) and Simmons College (87). Rivier earned one more point in the poll than USJ and was slotted ninth with 51 points. USJ (50) was picked to finish ahead of Anna Maria (36), Lasell (34) and Mount Ida (28) to round out the 2017-18 GNAC field.
USJ will look to rising seniors and potential 1,000-point career scorers Kayla Guest (Newington, Conn.) and Rajeen Mayo (Middletown, Conn.) to head the offense. They both averaged in double figures last season at 13.6 ppg and 11.0 ppg, respectively. Guest is 183 points shy of 1,000 for her career, while Mayo needs 259 to reach the career milestone.
The Blue Jays open the season on the road at Bay Path on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.
2017-18 GNAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Saint Joseph's Maine (9) - 162
2. Emmanuel (2) - 153
3. Johnson & Wales (2) - 152
4. Regis (Mass.) - 113
5. Suffolk - 111
6. Norwich - 104
7. Albertus Magnus - 102
8. Simmons - 87
9. Rivier - 51
10. Saint Joseph (CT) - 50
11. Anna Maria - 36
12. Lasell - 34
13. Mount Ida - 28
About the GNAC
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 17 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.