EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Belmont has been picked to win the 2018-19 Ohio Valley Conference women’s basketball title in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The Bruins earned 240 points, including 20 first-place votes, while UT Martin earned 204 points and three first-place votes for a second-place predicted finish. Jacksonville State is picked to finish third with 180 points while Morehead State (179) and Southeast Missouri (154) round out the top five. SIUE earned the last first-place vote and 149 points for a sixth-place predicted order of finish followed by Tennessee Tech (112), Tennessee State (93), Austin Peay (86), Eastern Kentucky (62), Eastern Illinois (60) and Murray State (58)
Belmont is coming off a season in which it went 31-4 overall and 18-0 in the OVC to capture its second straight OVC regular-season title. The Bruins earned the top seed in the OVC Tournament and defeated UT Martin, 63-56, in overtime in the championship final to win its third straight tourney crown. Belmont made its fourth NCAA appearance, falling to Duke in the first round. The Bruins became the first OVC Team to be ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll since 1992, finishing the regular-season ranked No. 23. Bart Brooks, who was named the OVC Coach of the Year and the WBCA Spalding Maggie Dixon NCAA Rookie Coach the Year, will have a pair of starters returning from last year’s team. The 2018-19 OVC Preseason Player of the Year senior guard Darby Maggard and senior guard Jenny Roy will both be returning this season. Maggard (Larwill, Ind.) finished last year ranked first in the league with 181 total assists while ranking second in three-pointers per game (3.3) and assists per game (5.2). She enters the season ranked third on the OVC’s all-time list for three-pointers made with 317. Roy (Brentwood, Tenn.), who was named to the Preseason All-OVC team, ranked in the league’s top five in rebounds (8.2 per game) and assist (4.4 per game).
UT Martin went 19-15 overall and 13-5 in the OVC to finish in a tie for second place. The Skyhawks earned the second seed in the OVC Tournament and fell to Belmont in overtime in the finals. UT Martin made its eighth postseason appearance as it fell to Indiana in the first round of the WNIT. Kevin McMillan enters his 10th year at the helm of UT Martin and will have two starters among eight players returning from last season. Sophomore forward Chelsey Perry(Middleton, Tenn.) and senior guard Emanye Robertson (Memphis, Tenn.) will be back on the court for the Skyhawks this year. Perry, who was named to the Preseason All-OVC team, is the team’s top returning scorer after recording 11.2 points per game last season. She also ranked among league leaders with 5.7 rebounds per game and 38 total blocks in 2017-18. Robertson was also named to the Preseason All-OVC team after recording 10.9 points and 4.4 assists per game last season.
Jacksonville State finished in a tie for fourth place last season after going 19-12 overall and 12-6 in the league. The Gamecocks earned the fourth seed in the OVC Tournament where the made it to the semifinals before falling to top-seeded Belmont. Rick Pietri is in his sixth year at the helm of Jacksonville State and has three starters among seven players returning this season. Among those returning are sophomore guard Taylor Hawks (Gainesville, Ga.) and senior forwardRayven Pearson (Hazel Green, Ala.). Hawks was second on the team last year with 8.3 points per game while dishing out a team-best 88 assists. Pearson made 42.6 percent of her field goals last year and averaged 7.6 points each time out. She was second in the league with 8.3 rebounds per game last year.
The 2018-19 regular-season beings on Nov. 6 with Conference play starting Jan. 3. Ten different teams have won a regular-season title with Tennessee Tech leading the way with 18.
2018-19 OVC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
- Belmont (20 first-place votes) – 240 points
- UT Martin (3) – 204
- Jacksonville State – 180
- Morehead State – 179
- Southeast Missouri – 154
- SIUE (1) – 149
- Tennessee Tech – 112
- Tennessee State – 93
- Austin Peay – 86
- Eastern Kentucky – 62
- Eastern Illinois – 60
- Murray State – 58
2018-19 All-OVC Preseason Women’s Basketball Team
The 2018-19 Preseason All-OVC team is headlined by Belmont senior guard Darby Maggard who was named the Preseason Player of the Year.
The preseason squad features student-athletes from seven different teams. Belmont, Tennessee State and UT Martin led the way with two selections each. Eastern Illinois, Morehead State, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee Tech each had on pick.
Maggard was an All-OVC First Team pick last season. The Larwill, Ind., native dished out a league-high 181 total assist last season. Her 5.2 assists per game were second in the OVC. She ranked fifth with 16.6 points each time out and was second with 3.3 three-point field goals made per outing. Maggard currently has 317 career made three pointers which is third all time in the OVC.
Earning Preseason All-Conference team honors this year after being named to the All-OVC First Team last season are: Tennessee State redshirt senior Tia Wooten (21.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg); and Morehead State senior guard Miranda Crockett (14.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg).
Southeast Missouri sophomore guard Tesia Thompson (12.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Belmont senior guard Jenny Roy (7.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg) were both named to the Preseason All-OVC team after earning All-Conference second team honors a year ago.
Rounding out the preseason squad are: UT Martin sophomore forward Chelsey Perry (11.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and senior guard Emanye Robertson (10.9 ppg, 4.4 apg); Eastern Illinois redshirt senior guard Grace Lennox (15.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Tennessee State sophomore guard Taylor Roberts (14.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg); and Tennessee Tech sophomore guard Mackenzie Coleman (10.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
2018-19 Women’s Basketball Preseason All-OVC Team
Darby Maggard, Belmont
Tia Wooten, Tennessee State
Miranda Crockett, Morehead State
Tesia Thompson, Southeast Missouri
Jenny Roy, Belmont
Chelsey Perry, UT Martin
Grace Lennox, Eastern Illinois
Emanye Robertson, UT Martin
Mackenzie Coleman, Tennessee Tech
Taylor Roberts, Tennessee State