EKU women picked to finish second in OVC East

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Eastern Kentucky University women’s basketball team has been picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference East Division in 2012-13, the league announced today from its Media Day event.

EKU, which received six first-place votes in the poll, returns all five starters from a team that reached the quarterfinals of the OVC Tournament in 2011-12, including junior guard Marie Carpenter, who was the lone Lady Colonel named to the Preseason All-OVC Team.

Carpenter led EKU in scoring at 13.4 points per game as a sophomore. The Nashville native shot a sizzling 41.8 percent from three-point range and 81.9 percent from the free throw line. Her three-point shooting percentage was the second-best by a sophomore in EKU history, and it also ranked second in the OVC last year.

Carpenter is not alone, however. Joining her in the EKU backcourt are seniors Raechele Gray and Brittany Coles. Gray started all 29 games at point guard for the Lady Colonels in 2011-12 and led the team in assists, steals and free throw percentage, while Coles enters her final year at Eastern seven three-pointers shy of reaching the school’s top-10 list in that category.

EKU also returns talent and experience in the paint. Senior forward Alex Jones, a two-time second team All-OVC performer, became the 21st member of the Lady Colonels’ 1,000-point club last year, while senior center Jade Barber was second on the team in scoring (11.2 ppg) and was named the OVC Newcomer of the Week five times in 2011-12.

OVC basketball will have a new look in 2012-13, as the conference welcomes Belmont and also debuts its new divisional format.

Tennessee Tech received 15 first-place votes and 121 points to take the top spot in the East Division poll. EKU, with six first-place votes and 108 points, was not far behind. Newcomer Belmont earned three first-place votes and 86 points to finish third, while Morehead State (69 points), Tennessee State (68 points) and Jacksonville State (40 points) rounded out the poll.

Defending OVC champion UT Martin was picked to finish first in the West Division. The Skyhawks’ Heather Butler, meanwhile, was selected as the preseason conference Player of the Year.

Voting for the preseason all-conference team and the preseason poll was conducted by the OVC’s 12 head coaches and 12 sports information women’s basketball contacts.

EKU will play an exhibition game at home against Georgetown College on November 2 before opening the regular season by hosting Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m.

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