Women's Basketball Picked to Win MAC East Division

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Oct. 20, 2004

CLEVELAND--A year after earning the program's first Mid-American Conference title since 1989-90, Miami University's women's basketball team has been tabbed by the MAC News Media Association to capture its third straight East Division title.

The RedHawks, who are coming off a 22-9 season that included a 14-2 league record, received 14 first-place votes and 169 total points in edging Kent State, which received nine first-place votes, by four points in a tight East Division race. Miami and Kent State have won all seven of the league's East Division titles since 1997-98, with the Golden Flashes winning the first five and the RedHawks prevailing in the last two. Marshall University, a 2004 MAC Semifinalist, was picked third, earning nine first-place votes and 144 total points. Rounding out the projected order of finish in the East were Ohio (78), Buffalo (70) and Akron (47).

"It's nice to see the program receiving that type of respect, but, in a conference this competitive, there are a lot of teams that could rise to the top during the season," head coach Maria Fantanarosa said. "The MAC had a remarkable season last year in sending four teams to postseason play, and, with a lot of talent returning across the league, it could be even better this season."

Eastern Michigan, the defending MAC Tournament Champion, was picked to win the West, receiving 22 first-place votes and 212 total points. Western Michigan, which received eight first-place votes and 175 points, and Bowling Green, which picked up one first-place vote and 153 points, were picked second and third, respectively. Toledo (125), Ball State (124), Northern Illinois (71) and Central Michigan (36) close out the predicted order of finish in the West.

A group of six teams split votes to win the 2005 Kraft MAC Tournament, hosted in Cleveland's Gund Arena. Eastern Michigan picked up 10 votes, followed by Marshall (7), Western Michigan (6), Bowling Green (4), Miami (3) and Kent State (2). The MAC Tournament Champion earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Miami, which enters its seventh season under Fantanarosa, has assembled a string of five consecutive winning seasons, including a league-best four straight trips to the MAC Semifinals. The RedHawks, who return three starters and six letterwinners from last season's team, including preseason all-MAC picks Cindi Merrill (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) and Amanda Jackson (Springfield, Ohio/South).