South Florida named team to beat in AAC women’s basketball for 2021-22; Pirates picked 7th

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IRVING, Texas – South Florida received all 10 possible first-place votes to emerge as the preseason favorite in American Athletic Conference women’s basketball for the second straight season, finishing atop the 2021-22 preseason coaches’ poll as voted on by The American’s 11 head coaches.

ECU’s women were picked seventh in the poll.

The Bulls, the defending American regular-season and tournament champions, earned the max of 100 voting points to pace the preseason predicted order of finish. Last season’s conference runner-up UCF secured a first-place vote of its own (91 points) to finish ahead of Houston (77 points) for second place in the preseason poll. Tulane finished fourth with 72 points and Temple rounded out the top five with 69 points.

Cincinnati was sixth in the preseason rankings with 44 points, followed by East Carolina (38), Wichita State (36), Tulsa (32), SMU (26) and Memphis (20).

Temple graduate forward Mia Davis were selected as American Preseason Player of the Year for the second straight season. Davis, a three-time all-conference first-team selection and two-time USBWA honorable mention All-American, ranked second in The American last season with 17.7 points per game, fourth with a .439 field-goal percentage and fifth with 7.6 rebounds per contest. Davis tied for third in the conference with five double-doubles last season.

Joining Davis on the preseason all-conference first team was UCF fifth-year guard Tay Sanders (10.4 points, 1.8 steals per game in 2020-21), South Florida redshirt senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (14.1 points, 10.6 rebounds per game at Memphis in 2020-21), South Florida senior forward Bethy Mununga (9.6 points, 12.9 rebounds per game with a conference-high 11 double-doubles in 2020-21), South Florida sophomore guard Elena Tsineke (13.6 points per game in 2020-21) and Wichita State senior forward Asia Strong (15.2 points, 6.6 rebounds per game in 2020-21).

Players named to the all-conference second team were Houston sophomore guard Laila Blair (10.5 points per game in 2020-21), South Florida junior guard Sydni Harvey (11.7 points per game in 2020-21, 2021 American Championship Most Outstanding Player), South Florida junior guard Elisa Pinzan (10.3 points, conference-high 6.5 assists per game in 2020-21), Tulane redshirt senior forward Krystal Freeman (12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds per game in 2020-21) and Tulsa senior guard Maya Mayberry (14.3 points per game in 2020-21).

South Florida earned its first American regular-season championship with a 13-2 conference record last season, outpointing rival UCF by one game for the top seed in the conference tournament. The Bulls locked down the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid by way of a 64-54 win over the Knights in the American Championship round on March 11. Five different teams, South Florida, UCF (12), Houston (12), Tulane (12) and Temple (11), each finished 2020-21 with double-digit conference victories.

All 11 league teams are scheduled to compete for the 2022 American Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The tournament is scheduled for March 7-10 on the ESPN Networks.

2021-22 American Athletic Conference
Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

American Predicted Order of Finish
(Teams cannot vote for themselves)

Team (1st Place Votes)Points
South Florida (10)100
UCF (1)91
East Carolina38
Wichita State36

Preseason Player of the Year
Mia Davis, F, Temple

Preseason All-Conference First Team
Tay Sanders, G, UCF
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, F, South Florida
Bethy Mununga, F, South Florida
Elena Tsineke, G, South Florida
Mia Davis, F, Temple*
Asia Strong, F, Wichita State

Preseason All-Conference Second Team
Laila Blair, G, Houston
Sydni Harvey, G, South Florida
Elisa Pinzan, G, South Florida
Krystal Freeman, F, Tulane
Maya Mayberry, G, Tulsa

*denotes unanimous selection

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