North Georgia Chosen as Women’s Basketball Preseason Favorite

North Georgia Chosen as Women’s Basketball Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – The North Georgia Nighthawks have been chosen as the preseason favorite in a poll of Peach Belt Conference women's basketball coaches released on Wednesday.  UNG received 10 first-place votes and 120 total points, finishing ahead of Lander in second with 112 points.  Clayton State was third in the poll with Columbus State fourth, USC Aiken fifth and Francis Marion sixth.  Flagler was selected seventh with UNC Pembroke eighth and Augusta ninth.  Georgia College, Georgia Southwestern and Young Harris rounded out the voting.

North Georgia has won the last two PBC regular-season championships and the last two PBC tournament titles.  The Nighthawks also won their first NCAA Southeast Regional championship last year to advance to the Elite Eight and finished with a 30-5 overall record.  UNG will return one senior and six juniors for 2019-20, led by junior forward Julianne Sutton who was a second-team All-Conference selection.  Junior guard Abbie Franklin was fourth on the team in scoring and second in assists.  UNG is ranked #23 in the WBCA preseason national poll.

Lander has already gotten the 2019-20 season off to a big start as they defeated Clemson 74-72 in an exhibition game earlier in the week.  Ranked #21 in the WBCA preseason Top 25, the Bearcats were 24-9 overall last season, 18-4 in conference play, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the fifth year in a row.  This season, Lander returns five of their top seven scorers including senior guard Jessica Harris, the reigning PBC Player of the Year.  Also returning is senior forward Tabitha Dailey, who was fourth on the team in scoring and second in rebounding.

Clayton State reached the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in the last 15 years in 2018-19, finishing with a 21-10 overall record, 16-6 in conference play.  The Lakers return five senior or graduate students for 19-20, led by third-team All-Conference guard Taneria Wilson, who was second on the team in scoring, third in rebounding and was second in the PBC in steals.

Columbus State reached the championship game of the 2019 PBC Tournament as the #6 seed, their fifth appearance in the final in the last six years.  The Cougars return one of the more experienced teams in the PBC for 2019-20 with four seniors and four juniors on the roster for new head coach Matt Houser.  LeeAysia Williamson returns for her junior year after being named All-Conference last season, she was second on the team in scoring and fourth in rebounding.

Houser is one of four new or changed head coaches in PBC women's basketball this season.  Maurice Smith takes over at Flagler after departing Georgia College, Ross Jolly has come in as the new Bobcats head coach.   Justin Payne takes over at Georgia Southwestern while Lindsey Huffman starts at Young Harris.

The preseason coaches poll is listed below.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

2019-20 PBC Women's Basketball
Preseason Coaches Poll

Rank Team Points
1. North Georgia 120
2. Lander 112
3. Clayton State 91
4. Columbus State 84
5. USC Aiken 76
6. Francis Marion 75
7. Flagler 69
8. UNC Pembroke 52
9. Augusta 42
10. Georgia College 34
11. Georgia Southwestern 26
12. Young Harris 11