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Fox led the Saints with a game-high 21 points
Fox led the Saints with a game-high 21 points

WINTHROP, Mass. – Two-time defending league champion Saint Joseph's College of Maine has captured the top spot in the 2017-18 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Poll, the GNAC office announced on Monday. The Monks edged out Emmanuel College for the top spot as the two teams have met in each of the last two GNAC Championship games.

The Monks, who have won three conference crowns in the last four years, garnered nine of 13 first-place votes and 162 points in the poll, which was voted upon by the league's head coaches. SJC returns reigning GNAC Player of the Year and junior Kelsi McNamara, who last season averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 36.4 percent from three-point territory.

SJC finished an impressive 15-1 in GNAC play in 2016-17 under head coach Mike McDevitt, who last season became the 30th in NCAA Division III women's hoop coaching laurels to reach the 500-win mark. His program earned a double-overtime win over Johnson & Wales University in the GNAC Tournament semifinals before an overtime victory against Emmanuel College in the GNAC Championship. The Monks will open up their schedule on Wednesday, November 15 at Maine Maritime before taking on Babson on Friday, Nov, 17 as part of the Keene State Tip-Off Tournament.

Emmanuel finished second in the preseason poll with 153 points and two-first place votes, as the Saints open up 2017-18 play this weekend with at the Emmanuel Tip-Off Classic before hosting Brandeis on Tuesday, Nov. 21 and traveling to the NESCAC's Amherst on Tues, Nov. 28. EC looks to return to the NCAA Tournament after winning seven straight GNAC titles from 2007-13.

Saint Joseph's will travel to Emmanuel to open up GNAC play on Saturday, December 2.

JWU was just behind EC 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 with 104 points, Albertus Magnus College with 102 points and Simmons College with 87 points. For the rest of the results, please see below.

The GNAC Tournament rounds are set for the quarterfinals on Tuesday, February 20, the semis on Thursday, Feb. 22 and the GNAC title game on Saturday, Feb. 24. Be sure to catch all of the action live on thegnac.tv or watch your favorite GNAC teams on one of our four custom digital streaming apps.

2017 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 

*Release courtesy of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference