The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team tips of the 2019-20 season this weekend at the STAC Conference Challenge. Coming off an impressive 2018-19 season which saw the Spartans finish with a 26-5 record and their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Spartans were projected to finish in 2nd place in the East Coast Conference preseason coaches' poll, behind only defending conference champion NYIT.
Last year, the Spartans were nearly unstoppable during the regular season, with just three losses in 29 contests, including a 17-1 mark which secured the ECC Regular Season Championship. STAC suffered a tough semi-final loss in the ECC Tournament to a motivated LIU Post team, then dropping a 55-43 decision to LeMoyne College in the NCAA East Regional.
Despite the loss of seniors Julia Winnik and Chelsea Murphy, an extremely talented group of returnees and newcomers provide reason for continued optimism in a program which has amassed a dominant 53-10 overall record over the previous two seasons, including the program's first ever ECC Tournament title, and first ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Key starters returning are junior Emily Preston (11.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and redshirt junior Kellyann Averill (31 games, 30 starts, 6.0 rpg), while redshirt senior Ruth Adams (team-leading 11.2 ppg), senior Missy Sadler (9.1 ppg), and junior Zaria Thomas (10.1 ppg, 66 3-pt FG) each saw 10 games or more in the starting five.
Other returnees include sophomores Alexa Huertas, Victoria Kurisko, Chanel Brodeur-Muir, and Stefania Georgiou; and juniors Georgia Smith and Skye Burris. Newcomers for this season include redshirt freshman Sarah Scerbak, along with freshmen Melissa Alifano and Taniesha Gilbert.
The 27-game regular-season schedule tips off on Friday and Saturday, November 8 and 9, as STAC squares off with American International College and Dominican College, respectively. Tough non-conference match-ups include Pace, Caldwell, Southern Connecticut, USciences and New Haven, while the ECC slate promises challenges from the likes of the aforementioned NYIT, as well as Daemen, Roberts Wesleyan and Bridgeport.