By Jared Prenda
There is a lot of hype surrounding the 2017-18 CUA women’s basketball team this season. The team tied with Moravian for the 1st seed in the Landmark Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll with 58 points each, and was followed by Scranton who earned 56 votes. The team has also been ranked 20th overall by the 2017-18 Women’s D-III News Preseason National Top-25 Poll.
Last season, head coach Matt Donahue led his team to a 23-5 overall record, going 13-1 in conference play to secure the Landmark Conference Regular Season Title. The team fell to Scranton (ranked 13th in the preseason poll) in the Landmark Championships, and made an early exit after securing a bid in the NCAA National Tournament.
The team, however, lost a key component to their system following the graduation of All-American point guard and Landmark Player of the Year Michelle DeSantis. DeSantis was a prolific scorer during her time with the Cards, shooting 51.7% from the field and 47.1% from outside the arc to average 16.4 points per game. Sophomore Mollie Reynolds will be taking over the starting point guard position after spending last season as the team’s sixth man.
The Lady Cards will see 9 players returning from last year’s roster including starters sophomore Megan Stafford and senior Payton Smith. They will also see the return of key bench players sophomores Caroline Sullivan and Sydney Poindexter who each saw action in 23 games last season. Senior Sam Cowan, who played in 27 games this past season, will also return.
The team is also looking forward to the newest addition of senior All-American Briana Bull, who transferred to CUA from Landmark foe Goucher. Bull has been a force on the court, winning the Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season with a conference leading 94 steals. She also averaged 20.6 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game. The guard has already shown an impact on her new team by scoring 17, grabbing 7 boards, and registering 4 steals and a block in the season-opener over St. Mary’s College.
The team won the annual “One Bird Family” matchup over St. Mary’s College of Maryland, 60-41 this past Wednesday. Bull was not the only Card to have an impressive season debut, as Poindexter snagged a team-high 9 rebounds while Stafford led the game by dishing out 9 assists. Cowan tied rookie CC Mooney for the team lead of 9 points off the bench.
As a team, the Birds performed exceptionally well. Defensively they held the Seahawks to 19.6% from the field, and forced 23 turnovers. They were able to generate 18 points off those turnovers, and scored 15 on second chances. The bench outscored the St. Mary’s 25-18, and the Cards dominated down low with 22 points to the Seahawks’ 8 points in the paint.
The Cardinals will not begin Landmark play until December 9th, when they travel to Madison, New Jersey for a 4 PM tip-off against the Rangers of Drew University. They will not play rivals Scranton until January 20th at the DuFour Center, and then on February 10th in the Electric City. They will play Moravian on February 17th in the final game of the regular season.