AUGUSTA — It’s an understatement to say the University of Maine at Augusta women’s basketball team suffered significant graduation losses.

Gone are two 1,000-career point scorers in Ashley Peaslee and Katie Poirier, who were among national leaders in steals and rebounding, respectively. Poirier was named Yankee Small College Conference Player of the Year and was selected to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association’s All-American team while both Peaslee and Monmouth’s Jenn Lola were honorable mentions. The Moose won the regular-season conference title and finished at 20-8 overall.

As good as those memories are, all of this is yesterday’s news. Coach Jennifer Laney is excited about this year’s team, which begins its season tonight at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.

“I’m definitely feeling optimistic,” Laney said. “This team is different from last year but I think that’s a good thing.”

The Moose return four players, including Haley Madore of Winslow and Katie Gayne of Augusta, who both saw significant playing time a year ago. Both will start, Madore inside and Gayne at off-guard. Also returning are Maranacook graduate Alyssa Betts and Alora Hixon of Richmond.

Laney is excited about some newcomers, including Cony graduate Allyssa Marson, Arreonte Lee of San Antonio, Texas and Mt. Blue graduate Coreinne Dingley. Marson, who played for Daniel Webster College last year, will start at point guard.

“Her all-around game is really strong,” Laney said. “She’s really developed her game since high school. She can really shoot the 3 but she can also take it to the basket.”

Like Marson, Lee is 5-foot-9 and very quick and will be part of a three-guard attack by the Moose.

“She’s also a very strong player,” Laney said. “We’ve got a fast team. We’ll be running up and down the court.”

Dingley, 5-11, will join the 5-10 Madore in the front court.

“She’s going to be a very strong post player in our league,” Laney said. “She just knows how to use her body.”

Hixon and Betts are both guards while Cony graduate Maegan Cloutier will back up the inside players. Angelica Bulgin of Lisbon rounds out the nine-player squad which Laney expects to expand with some additions second semester.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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