LANCASTER, Pa. – A year removed from its first playoff appearance since 2012, the Ursinus College women's basketball team was picked to retain its position as the fifth-ranked team in the Centennial Conference preseason poll.
Defending champion Gettysburg collected 14 first-place votes and topped the prognostication with 190 points, while Johns Hopkins was slotted second with eight first-place votes and 179 points. Muhlenberg (164 points), Haverford (146), and Ursinus (128) completed the projected postseason field. Dickinson (103 points) was sixth, followed by McDaniel (92), Franklin & Marshall (90), Washington College (58), Swarthmore (40), and Bryn Mawr (20).
Last year was a stepping-stone campaign for head coach Margaret White and the Bears, who made their long-awaited return to the conference playoffs. A 62-56 setback at Johns Hopkins ended its season, but Ursinus has designs on doing more than just getting in this time around.
Along with the Blue Jays, White's squad is one of just two in the conference to bring back almost everyone. The Bears return four starters to a lineup headlined by junior forward Lydia Konstanzer. A two-time second team All-CC selection, Konstanzer continued to solidify herself as one of the league's premier stars in averaging 16.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. In addition to those eye-popping numbers, each of which ranked third in the CC, Konstanzer led the conference in steals (59). She was second in points (431) and field goals made (180), third in total rebounds (254) and offensive rebounds (88), fourth in field-goal percentage (47.1) and minutes per game (32.3), and fifth in points per 40 minutes (20.5).
Junior forward Toni Suler is set to return to the fold after missing the final 12 games with a season-ending injury. Suler is the perfect complement to Konstanzer on one of the region's most imposing front lines – a defensive stalwart, Suler averaged 7.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while racking up an incredible 49 blocks in her 14 appearances. Suler is already the all-time program record-holder in blocks (144) and is well on her way to breaking the CC mark of 271.
Sophomores Aliyah Stephens (9.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG) and Maya Kornfeld (6.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.8 APG) were big factors in the Bears' return to the postseason and combine to form a quick, athletic backcourt. Stephens scored in double figures in each of the last seven games of the year, including a double-double against F&M and a 14-point, 7-rebound effort in the playoff loss to Johns Hopkins, while Kornfeld posted 12 games with at least three assists and three rebounds.
Sophomores Marisa Morano (3.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG) and Sydney Fail (2.8 PPG) received valuable minutes off the bench a year ago, and junior Francesca Bogiatzis and sophomores Elizabeth Burke and Katherine Eckhoff will provide depth.
The Bears tip off the 2018-19 campaign at home against Alvernia on Saturday, November 10.