GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Coming off the winningest season in over a decade, Furman's women's basketball team tipped off preseason practice Monday with a two-hour practice at Timmons Arena.
The Paladins, who posted a 19-14 record and qualified for postseason play for the second consecutive year, return three starters, including a pair of All-Southern Conference performers, and seven letterwinners under head coach Jackie Carson, who is entering her sixth season in charge of the program.
"The first day of practice requires a lot of teaching and helping younger players adjust to a college practice and the time, concentration, and energy that is required, so that was a lot of what we did today," said Carson. "Overall, it was a pretty good first day and something we can build on."
Four freshmen -- guard De'Asia Brown, wing Taylor Darks, forward Kaitlyn Duncan, and post Sydney Bozeman -- join redshirt sophomore guard Meagan Tucker in giving the Paladins five new faces on this year's team. Tucker is eligible after sitting out the 2014-15 season following her transfer from Auburn. Another newcomer, 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore forward DeAnneisha Jackson, will practice with the squad but is ineligible this year after transferring to Furman from High Point.
The newcomers join a veteran group led by a trio of seniors — wing Holli Wilkins (12.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg), guard Kelsey Ellis (6.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg), and post Shianne Goodwin (1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg). Wilkins, a former SoCon Freshman of the Year, all-conference performer as a sophomore, and three-year starter, heads into the 2015-16 campaign having scored 1,095 points, good for 16th in program history. Ellis, meanwhile, ranked second in the SoCon in 3-point shooting (39.5 percent) a year ago.
Furman's junior class features All-SoCon point guard Whitney Bunn (14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg), wing Allison Beasley (6.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg), and 6-foot-1 post Tiara Wood (1.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg). Bunn is coming off a 2014-15 campaign that saw her register a Furman record 226 assists and fourth highest 3-point shooting percentage (38.6 percent) in the SoCon. Beasley converted 38.1 percent of her treys a year ago to rank sixth in the league.
Cierra Carter, a 5-foot-11 small forward, fashioned a solid freshman campaign a year ago, averaging 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds en route to earning SoCon All-Freshman Team honors.
The Paladins' top personnel losses from a year ago include graduated All-SoCon forward Brittany Hodges (13.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and forward Sarah Durdaller (8.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Furman will entertain Queens (N.C.) College in an exhibition game on Nov. 5 before opening the season on Nov. 13 at home versus Davidson.
Hunter Reid, Sports Information