AUGUSTA, GA – The Francis Marion University women's basketball squad has been picked to finish third in the Peach Belt Conference this coming season according to the annual pre-season poll conducted by the league's coaches.
The pre-season ranking is the second straight Top 3 listing for the Patriots.
Lander University, winner of the East Division last season with a 25-8 record, was selected as the preseason favorite. Lander captured eight first-place votes and 116 total points to edge out Columbus State University, which received the remaining four first-place votes and 111 points. CSU captured both the PBC regular season and tournament titles last season with a 31-2 mark and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Quarterfinals.
FMU received three second-place votes, six third-place votes, and two fifth-place votes to total 98 points. Clayton State University (90) was fourth, followed by the University of North Georgia (77), USC Aiken (69), Georgia College (58), UNC Pembroke (54), Flagler College (40), Augusta University (30), Georgia Southwestern State University (30), and Young Harris College (19). Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
Last year, Francis Marion finished 18-12 and placed second in the PBC's East Division standings. At the end of the season, the Patriots won nine straight games before falling to Columbus State in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament.
The Patriots return nine of 12 letterwinners from that squad including four starters: senior forwards Briana Burgins (12.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and Khai Chandler (13.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg), senior center Kristin Tines (2.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and junior guard Shaunice Fulmore (17.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg). FMU also welcomes back the services of shooting guard Victoria Dye (6.2 ppg), now a graduate student, who missed all of the 2016-17 season with an injury.
FMU will open its 2017-18 campaign by hosting the Peach Belt/Conference Carolinas Challenge on Nov. 10-11. The Patriots will play Erskine College at 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 and North Greenville University on Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m.