Sugar Bears picked 2nd in Southland hoops

After a historic run in 2015-16 in which the Universsity of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears win a program record 28 games and claim their first Southland Conference tournament championship en route to their debut appearance in the Division I NCAA tournament, UCA again expected to compete for the Southland crown as the Sugar Bears were selected second in the league’s preseason polls, announced Monday.

 

After a second-place finish last season, when they were 16-2 in conference play behind only Abilene Christian’s 17-1, the Sugar Bears are projected to be among the league’s elite again this season with four starters and seven players in all returning from last year’s team. The Sugar Bears were selected behind only the defending regular-season champion Wildcats by both the league’s coaches and sports information directors. The Sugar Bears received three first-place votes in the coaches poll and two in the SID poll, with ACU getting the remainder in each.

One of the primary reasons for the lofty expectations is the All-Southland duo of senior guards Maggie Proffitt and Brianna Mullins, both named to the league’s preseason all-conference teams. Proffitt was named to the first team and Mullins the second after being All-Southland performers in each of the last two seasons.

Proffitt was a first team All-Southland selection last season after averaging a team-high 14.2 points per game with a 36.0 3-point percentage and a program-record 89.4 free throw percentage. Proffitt enters her senior season with 1,161 career points (third in the program’s Division I history and 17th overall and is the program’s Division I career leader with 195 3-pointers made, 77 shy of breaking Carone Harris’ program record of 271 set in 2005 during the program’s Division II era.

Mullins is coming off a season in which she was one of just two Southland players to average at least 10 points, five rebounds and four assists per game during the conference season.

Along with Proffitt and Mullins, the Sugar Bears also return seniors Raquel Logan and Taylor Strickland, juniors Taylor Baudoin and Angel Williams, and sophomore Olivia McWilliams. Sophomore forward Tierney Paylor is out for the season after suffering an achilles injury in the preseason.

The Sugar Bears tip off the season Nov. 11 in the Farris Center against crosstown foe Hendrix, before hitting the road to take on No. 23 Texas A&M on Nov. 13 in College Station. The Sugar Bears will host 14 games in the Farris Center this season, and make non-conference trips to A&M, Texas Tech and Alcorn State along with neutral-site games against Houston and Liberty at UTSA before opening Southland play against Lamar on Dec. 31.

2016-17 SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE PRESEASON WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(First-place votes

in parentheses)

Coaches Poll

1. Abilene Christian (10) 142

2. Central Arkansas (3) 135

3. Stephen F. Austin 117

4. Lamar 110

5. McNeese 86

6. Northwestern State 79

7. Nicholls 76

8. Houston Baptist 68

9. Sam Houston State 66

10. A&M-Corpus Christi 60

11. New Orleans 34

12. Southeastern Louisiana 28

13. UIW 23

SID Poll

1. Abilene Christian (11) 143

2. Central Arkansas (2) 133

3. Stephen F. Austin 119

4. McNeese 94

T5. Lamar 92

T5. Northwestern State 92

7. Nicholls 75

8. Houston Baptist 73

9. Sam Houston State 60

10. A&M-Corpus Christi 57

11. New Orleans 34

12. Southeastern Louisiana 23

13. UIW 19

———

2016-17 SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE PRESEASON WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAMS

First Team

Name Class Position School

Alexis Mason Sr. G Abilene Christian

Maggie Proffitt Sr. G Central Arkansas

Taylor Ross Sr. G Stephen F. Austin

Suzzy Dimba Sr. F Abilene Christian

Randi Brown Jr. G New Orleans

Second Team

Name Class Position School

Brianna Mullins Sr. G Central Arkansas

Sydney Shelstead Sr. F Abilene Christian

Beatrice Attura Sr. G Northwestern State

Chastadie Barrs So. G Lamar

Lizzy Dimba Sr. F Abilene Christian

 

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