New York, N.Y. — Returning its top two leading scorers (Audrey Faber and Jaylyn Agnew) as well as its leading rebounder (Agnew) the Creighton women’s basketball team was picked to finish the 2018-19 season fourth by the BIG EAST coaches at the opening of the conference media day on Thursday, Oct. 25.
The Bluejays closed the 2017-18 season with a 19-13 record, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Creighton finished BIG EAST play last season with an 11-7 record, placing fourth behind Marquette, DePaul and Villanova. The exact trio were picked to finish ahead of the Bluejays once more in 2018-19.
Coming off a shared regular-season title, DePaul and Marquette are predicted to once again finish atop the BIG EAST women’s basketball standings in 2018-19, based on a vote by the league’s head coaches. The BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll predicted the Blue Demons and Golden Eagles would tie once more as each team claimed five first-place votes and 77 points apiece, while fellow 2018 NCAA Tournament teams Villanova and Creighton were slotted third and fourth, respectively. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
DePaul claimed at least a share of its fifth consecutive BIG EAST regular-season title in 2017-18 after finishing 15-3, and won its third BIG EAST Tournament crown in March. The Blue Demons, who went 27-8 overall, earned their 16th straight NCAA Tournament berth and were a No. 5 seed, their highest since 2011. Following a 15-3 league finish,Marquette won a share of its first BIG EAST regular-season title and advanced to the BIG EAST Tournament Final for a second consecutive season. The Golden Eagles, who went 24-10 overall, have had their most wins in any two-year span in program history (49) and earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the second consecutive year, marking the first time since 1999-2000 they’ve made back-to-back trips to the Big Dance. MU is the lone team to return all five starters from a year ago – a squad which averaged a league-high 80.1 points per game over 18 conference contests.
Villanova finished the regular season in third place in the BIG EAST standings and earned its first NCAA Tournament at-large selection since 2013. The Wildcats, who return a trio of starters from 2017-18, including reigning BIG EAST Sixth Woman of the Year Mary Gedaka, went 23-9 overall and posted the nation’s second-fewest turnovers at just 9.7 per contest. Rounding out the list of four BIG EAST teams to make the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Creighton was announced as one of the final eight teams under consideration for the Big Dance the night prior to Selection Monday. The Bluejays were the final team announced in the field, marking their first back-to-back NCAA appearances since 2012-13. Creighton upset No. 6 Iowa in the First Round before falling to No. 9 UCLA to finish the year 19-13.
In its first season under the direction of head coach James Howard, Georgetownadvanced to its first BIG EAST Tournament Semifinal in 18 years, while qualifying for the WNIT for a third consecutive season. The Hoyas went 16-16 overall and 9-9 in BIG EAST play, and return two starters, highlighted by 2018 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Dionna White. St. John’s qualified for the national postseason for an 11th consecutive year and advanced to the WNIT Quarterfinals. The Red Storm finished the season 19-15 overall, 9-9 in BIG EAST play, and return four of their top-five scorers from that squad, including reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Qadashah Hoppie.
Butler won a BIG EAST Tournament game for a third consecutive year in 2018, but the Bulldogs aim to avoid the First Round by finishing in the top six in 2019. Butler returns four starters this season, including its top three scorers – Whitney Jennings (16.8 PPG), Tori Schickel (16.4 PPG) and Kristen Spolyar (11.6 PPG) – while also adding a pair of key transfers in Ashanti Thomas (Penn State) and Katherine Strong (VCU). In 2017-18,Seton Hall went 16-16 overall, including a return to the WNIT, and finished BIG EAST play in seventh place at 7-11. The Pirates return a trio of starters this season, but lose their top three scorers from a year ago.
Providence went 10-21 overall, 3-15 in BIG EAST play last season, taking Butler into overtime in the BIG EAST Tournament First Round before falling by six to close out the year in heartbreaking fashion. Including leading scorer Jovana Nogic, seven letterwinners and four starters return. The Musketeers will have a new look in 2018-19 as Xavierreturns just one starter from a year ago in Na’Teshia Owens. Owens started 27 games as a sophomore, including 15 in BIG EAST play where she averaged 8.3 points per game.
While the Bluejay squad was picked to finish fourth, Agnew and Faber were two of 11 players recognized on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.