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UTM women’s hoop team picked to finish sixth in preseason poll

UTM women’s hoop team picked to finish sixth in preseason poll
UTM women’s hoop team picked to finish sixth in preseason poll | Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks basketball, Ohio Valley Conference women's basketball, Samford, Austin Peay, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Morehead State, Jacksonville State

Phyllisha Mitchell
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks women’s basketball team, after finishing a point short in overtime of reaching the Ohio Valley Conference championship game last season, have been tabbed to finish sixth in the conference in the annual preseason poll. Skyhawk junior center/forward Phyllisha Mitchell was named to the preseason All-OVC squad.
Southeast Missouri has been selected to win the 2007-08 OVC women’s basketball title in a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. The Redhawks received 19 first-place votes and 199 points while Samford collected two first-place nods for 161 points. Murray State earned 155 points. Eastern Illinois picked up the remaining first-place vote and 119 points for a fourth-place finish while Tennessee Tech received 114 points to round out the top five.
Completing the poll were UT Martin, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Austin Peay, Tennessee State and Jacksonville State.
Southeast Missouri earned its second straight OVC regular-season and tournament title last year. The 2006-07 OVC Coach of the Year John Ishee returns four starters from a team that went 24-8 overall and 16-4 in the OVC last year. Among the returning starters is 2007-08 Preseason OVC Player of the Year Missy Whitney. The senior forward/center averaged 13.2 points per game while also bringing down 7.8 rebounds per outing to rank among league leaders. Sonya Daugherty, a junior guard/forward, will also return this year after putting up 14.2 points per game last season to finish seventh in the OVC.
Samford ended the 2006-07 with an 18-13 overall record and a 12-8 league mark. Mike Morris, who enters his sixth season at the helm of the Bulldogs, welcomes back three starters from last year including the team’s top scorer in Alex Munday. The senior forward tallied 14.0 points per game in 2006-07. Munday also finished second in the OVC in free throw percentage (84.1 percent) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (40.5 percent). Senior Taryn Towns also returns this season after finishing third on the team with a 45.3 field goal percentage. Towns averaged 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds last year.
Murray State is coming off a year in which it went 21-10 overall and 15-5 in the OVC to finish second. The Racers, who advanced to the championship game of the OVC Tournament for just the third time in program history, will be under the new direction of first-year head coach Jody Adams and will have four starters back from a year ago. Juniors Amber Guffey and Ashley N. Hayes will be back for Murray State this season. Guffey ranked among league leaders in points (13.0 ppg), assists (4.26 apg), free throw percentage (84.1 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.3 percent). Hayes was third on the team with 12.5 points to rank 13th in the OVC last season. She also brought down 6.8 rebounds to finish ninth in the league.
The 2007-08 All-OVC preseason women’s basketball team is headlined by Southeast Missouri forward/center Missy Whitney, who was selected as the OVC Preseason Player of the Year. She is joined by nine players, including two first-team All-OVC selections from last year and three second-team picks from a year ago. Whitney, who was selected to the All-OVC second team last year, ranked in the league’s top 10 in points (13.2 ppg) and rebounds (7.8 ppg). The Charleston, Missouri, native also led the Redhawks with 45 blocks last year. Whitney sank 42.8 percent of her field goals while nailing 38.8 percent of her 3-point field goal attempts.
Eastern Illinois’ Rachel Galligan and Samford’s Alex Munday are the two returning first-team selections from last season. Galligan, a junior forward, is the league’s top returning scorer and blocker after posting 17.2 points and 1.59 blocks per game. She also led the Panthers with 8.3 rebounds per outing last season. Munday, a senior forward, ranked in the OVC top 10 in scoring (14.0), free throw percentage (84.1 percent) and 3 point field goal percentage (40.5 percent).
Joining Whitney as a second-team returnee is Eastern Illinois’ Jessica Huffman , Eastern Kentucky’s Crystal Jones and Murray State’s Amber Guffey. Huffman, a sophomore guard, was selected as the 2006-07 OVC Freshman of the Year after finishing with 16.9 points per game to rank third in the league. Jones, a senior guard, was also an all-newcomer pick from last year. She averaged 16.1 points while hitting 48.9 percent of her field goal attempts. A junior guard, Guffey ranked among league leaders in points (13.0 ppg), assists (4.26 apg), free throw percentage (84.1 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.3 percent).
The preseason All-OVC team also features four players who didn’t receive All-Conference honors last year. That includes Southeast Missouri’s Sonya Daugherty, Murray State’s Ashley N. Hayes, UT Martin’s Phyllisha Mitchell and Tennessee State’s Obiageli Okafor.
Daugherty, who was selected as the 2007 OVC Tournament MVP, ranked seventh in the league with 14.2 points per game. Hayes tallied 12.5 points per game while Mitchell averaged 12.1 points to rank among league leaders. Okafor put up 14.2 points per outing to finish sixth in the conference.

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