ROCK HILL, S.C. --- The Tusculum University women's basketball team has been selected to finish fourth in the South Atlantic Conference preseason coaches poll, the league office announced Wednesday.
Senior guard Mia Long was named first-team preseason All-SAC for the Pioneers, who will tip off their 2019-20 season against Belmont Abbey on Friday, Nov. 9 at King University as part of the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge.
Tusculum is coming off its first 20-win season since 2010-11, after going 20-9 overall and finishing in a tie for fifth in the conference standings with an 8-8 record. Head coach Devan Carter begins his fifth season with two returning starters from last year's squad along with the returns from medical redshirts of former All-Conference selections Sydney Wilson and Kasey Johnson.
Long was named second-team All-SAC last season and SAC Defensive Player of the Year after leading Tusculum in scoring at 12.6 points per game and leading all of NCAA Division II in steals per game at 3.96. The Ann Arbor, Michigan native reached double figures in scoring 20 times last season, including season highs of 23 points against Coker on Jan. 12 and Catawba on Jan. 26.
Her 107 total steals in 27 games were the second-most in a single season in program history, and included at least one steal in each game in which she played. Long had a career-high eight steals against Coker on Jan. 12 and had at least four steals in 17 of her 27 games, part of a streak of 24 straight games with two or more steals to end the regular season.
In two seasons at Tusculum, Long is averaging 11.7 points per game and shooting 47.2 percent from the field. She has recorded 176 steals in 54 career games, ranking her tenth on the Tusculum all-time list. Her 3.5 assists per game are seventh-best in Pioneer program history.
Defending SAC champion Anderson earned 11 of 12 first place votes from the conference's head coaches and took the top spot in the preseason poll with 121 points, with Carson-Newman earning the other first-place vote and ranking second by one point ahead of Wingate, which was third with 100 points. Tusculum had 93 points in the poll, followed by Lenoir-Rhyne (75), Catawba (72), Lincoln Memorial (66) and Newberry (55) in positions five through eight. The rest of the poll consisted of Queens (43 points), Coker (30), league newcomer UVa-Wise (26) and Mars Hill (11).
Joining Long as preseason first-team All-Conference were reigning SAC Player of the Year Alexy Mollenhauer of Anderson and her teammate Madison Baggett, along with Addison Byrd and Kayla Marosites of Carson-Newman and Talia Barnes of Catawba. Second-team picks were Taisha DeShazo of Catawba, Teliyah Jeter of Wingate, Madeline Hardy of Lenoir-Rhyne, Kristian Eanes of Queens, Kelsey McDermott of Newberry and Cynita Webb of UVa-Wise.
2019-20 SAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll Rk School Pts (1st) 1. Anderson 121 (11) 2. Carson-Newman 101 (1) 3. Wingate 100 4. Tusculum 93 5. Lenoir-Rhyne 75 6. Catawba 72 7. Lincoln Memorial 66 8. Newberry 55 9. Queens 43 10. Coker 30 11. UVa-Wise 26 12. Mars Hill 11
2019-20 SAC Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference
Alexy Mollenhauer, Anderson
Mia Long, Tusculum
Madison Baggett, Anderson
Addison Byrd, Carson-Newman
Kayla Marosites, Carson-Newman
Talia Barnes, Catawba
Taisha DeSazo, Catawba
Teliyah Jeter, Wingate
Madeline Hardy, Lenoir-Rhyne
Kristian Eanes, Queens
Kelsey McDermott, Newberry
Cynita Webb, UVa-Wise