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Clayton State and USC Aiken Tie Atop Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll

AUGUSTA, GA – For the first time in league history, there is a tie at the top of the Peach Belt Conference women's basketball preseason coaches poll.  Clayton State and USC Aiken will begin the 2012-13 season in a race too close to call as both teams collected 150 points from the league's head coaches.  USC Aiken had seven first-place votes with four second-place and one third place while Clayton State had six first-place and six second-place votes.  Columbus State was third in the voting with Lander in fourth, UNC Pembroke fifth and North Georgia sixth.  Georgia Southwestern, newcomer Young Harris, Augusta State, Armstrong Atlantic State, Montevallo, Georgia College, Francis Marion and Flagler rounded out the voting.

USC Aiken is coming off of a historic season that saw their first PBC Tournament championship and serve as host of the NCAA Southeast Regional for the first time.  The Pacers finished 27-4 overall, the best single-season winning percentage in school history, and were nationally-ranked all season long, climbing as high as #7.  Four starters and eight letterwinners return from that team, including Preseason All-Conference selection Kayla Harris along with seniors Mia Antoine and Daniela Tarailo.   Junior guard Brittany Hill also returns after starting all 31 games a year ago.

Clayton State won the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship and returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2012 for the eighth straight time, reaching the round of 32.  Clayton State is the defending PBC regular-season champions after going 16-1 in league play last year and reaching the finals of the PBC Tournament.  Seven players return from last year's team that went 29-4 overall.  Four seniors highlight the returners including guards Keona Dixon and Drameka Griggs, who was named PBC All-Conference a year ago.  Also returning are senior forward Kayla Mobley and senior center Shannon Smith.

Columbus State finished second in the PBC west division in 2011-12, their best result since the 06-07 campaign. Head coach Jonathan Norton has six returners from last year's  16-11 team that lost to UNC Pembroke in the opening round of the PBC Tournament. Senior Shan Basley is the top returning scorer at 9.0 points per game. The Lady Cougars will also have the services once again of Tandria Milton. The senior was the second leading scorer in 2010-11 but redshirted last season.

Lander made school history last season by winning their first NCAA Southeast Regional Championship and playing in the NCAA Elite Eight.  However, the 2012-13 Bearcats face the challenge of replacing over 90 percent of their scoring and rebounding from a year ago.  Only senior post player Precious Elkins returns from last year's team.  The 2012-13 Bearcats have a dozen new players with junior college transfers Lea Saunders and Aarika Judge and sophomore Bria Lonon the only ones with collegiate experience.  The other nine newcomers are all freshman.   However, few programs have earned the respect that Lander has, with an 80-16 record over the last three seasons.

The 2012-13 PBC landscape will have a slightly different look than in years past.  For the first time since the 08-09 season every team in the league will play the same amount of conference games.  That is thanks to the addition of Young Harris College, who begins their first year of league membership and provides balance to the divisions as they become the seventh team in the west.

The women's basketball season begins on Nov. 9 with league play getting underway in mid-December.  The season goes on through the PBC Tournament March 7-10, 2013, at Columbus State University.

The 2012-13 preseason coaches poll is below. Teams were given 13 points for a first-place vote, 12 for a second and so on.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own team.

Rank

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

11th

12th

13th

Total

t1. Clayton State 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 150
t1. USC Aiken 7 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 150
3. Columbus State 0 2 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 124
4. Lander 0 1 4 3 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 115
5. UNC Pembroke 0 0 3 2 3 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 106
6. North Georgia 0 0 1 2 5 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 102
7. Georgia Southwestern 0 0 0 1 0 4 2 1 0 2 1 1 0 75
8. Young Harris 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 3 2 2 0 1 1 72
9. Augusta State 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 1 0 5 1 1 0 64
10. Armstrong 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 1 0 1 3 0 62
11. Montevallo 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 1 3 1 2 2 0 57
12. Georgia College 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 3 3 1 1 50
13. Francis Marion 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 4 3 1 40
14. Flagler 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 10 15