The Francis Marion University women's basketball squad has been picked to finish fourth 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 third straight Top 4 listing for the Patriots.
The University of North Georgia, defending regular-season and tournament champion with a 29-5 record, was selected as the preseason favorite receiving every possible first-place vote and a total of 121 points. Columbus State University received 103 points to finish second, followed by Lander University (93) and FMU and Flagler tied for fourth with 90 points each. Both CSU and Lander were also NCAA Tournament selection teams last year.
Georgia College (70) was sixth, followed by Clayton State University (61), UNC Pembroke (57), USC Aiken (35), Georgia Southwestern State University (30), Augusta University (27), and Young Harris College (15). Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
Fourth-year FMU head coach Jeri Porter welcomes back 10 letterwinners, including three starters, from last year's 16-12 squad that placed sixth in the final PBC standings.
Two-time All-Conference selection and honorable mention All-American (2017-18) pick Shaunice Fulmore heads the returnees. The 5-10 senior forward was second in the conference in scoring at 19.3 points per game last season, sixth in blocks (34), eighth in steals (48), and 12th in rebounding (7.3). Junior 5-6 point guard Abigail Bullock (12.1 ppg) also returns, while 5-8 forward graduate student Briana Burgins (12.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg) was granted a fifth year of eligibility after suffering a season-ending injury early last season. Fulmore and Burgins own career scoring totals of 1,358 and 1,001 points respectively.
Junior 6-2 center Tatyana McClaney (3.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) is also back after starting 13 contests last season.
Two NCAA Division I transfers, two junior college transfers, and two freshmen comprise the squad's six newcomers.
FMU will open its 2018-19 campaign on the road at 21st-ranked Wingate University on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The Patriots' home opener will be on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. against Chowan University.
The 26-game regular-season schedule includes 13 home contests.