It’s hard to imagine a team that went 24-4 last season has something to prove, but that’s the mantra the UMass Dartmouth women’s basketball squad is taking into the 2018-19 campaign.
Head Coach Matt Ducharme’s crew recorded a perfect 14-0 slate in Little East Conference play during the regular season last winter, but after falling just short in the league title contest and missing out on a second straight NCAA tournament appearance, the Corsairs are set to begin a journey down the road of redemption. And with a core of experienced veterans and talented newcomers in the fold, this season could once again be a very special one on the South Coast.
Ducharme, who has won 86 of his first 113 games over four seasons at the helm of his alma mater, has continued the tradition of strong leadership that helped make UMass Dartmouth a regional power, and this winter he will turn to seniors Nakira Examond (New Bedford, Mass./Greater New Bedford) and Danyel Gonzalez (Pawtucket, R.I./Saint Raphael Academy), along with junior Ashley Brown (Fairhaven, Mass./Fairhaven), to set that standard as the Corsairs’ tri-captains. Ducharme, a two-time Little East Coach of the Year honoree, describes the trio as “having a complete understanding of what the expectations of the program are. They will set a positive tone both on and off the court, and their commitment to excellence is contagious.”
Here’s a look at how things are shaping up for the 2018-19 edition of Corsair Women’s Basketball:
FRONT COURT. Examond, who earned honorable mention All-America accolades from d3hoops.com after once again collecting first-team all-Little East honors, averaged a double-double effort of 19.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the field a year ago. The 2017-18 conference Player of the Year enters her final collegiate campaign looking to become the first player in school history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds, and she is joined up front by sophomore Lauren Empey (Middleboro, Mass./Middleboro), who averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 27 games off the bench as a newcomer last year. Freshman Shaelyn Carreiro (Fall River, Mass./Durfee) will also be vying for a role in the UMass Dartmouth front court after scoring over 1,000 points in high school.
BACK COURT. Brown, who was named to the Little East all-defensive team last winter, averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds while recording a team-best 1.7 steals per contest and canning 27 three-pointers. Gonzalez lends additional experience in Ducharme’s back court after scoring 48 points and grabbing 48 rebounds off the bench in 2017-18, while senior Jess Korzec (West Brookfield, Mass./Quaboag Regional) averaged 5.5 points in 18 games off the bench that included a 51 percent shooting performance from the floor.
Junior Kayla McMahon (Hanover, Mass./Hanover) provides versatility as a guard and forward after scoring 15 points and collecting eight boards in eight outings last season, while senior Jamie Williams (Lone Tree, Colo./Rock Canyon) and sophomore Agar Felix (Somerville, Mass./Prospect Hill Academy) lend depth and experience for the Corsair guard corps. Williams scored 28 points and grabbed 46 caroms while appearing in all 28 games last winter, while Felix netted eight points in 12 contests as a rookie.
Sophomore Meagan Donovan (Abington, Mass./Archbishop Williams), who transferred to UMass Dartmouth from WPI, joins freshmen Jordan Moretti (Johnston, R.I./Johnston) and Jessica Carroll (Deep River, Conn./Mercy) in vying for roles in Ducharme’s guard rotation this year.
SCHEDULE. In addition to the rigors of the 16-game Little East double round-robin, UMass Dartmouth will face another challenging non-conference schedule that includes home dates with Bridgewater State, Roger Williams and Bowdoin as well as road tests at Johnson & Wales and Regis. The Corsairs will host Coast Guard, Suffolk and Endicott in the LaFrance Hospitality Classic on November 17-18 and will play Saint Lawrence in the opening round of the Babson Alumni Invitational on December 30th in a tournament that includes the host Beavers and Salve Regina.
Matt Ducharme’s fifth season of UMass Dartmouth women’s basketball tips-off on Tuesday, November 13th when the Corsairs welcome Bridgewater State to the Tripp Athletic Center for a non-league clash at 5:30 pm EST.