After an 11-20 campaign during the 2015-16 regular season, the College of Charleston women’s basketball team will look to improve under the leadership of third-year head coach Candice Jackson.
“We’ve grown a lot,” Jackson said in an interview with CAASports.com. “As a team, from a leadership standpoint, a lot of girls have really stepped up and given us a lot of great examples. They’ve become vocal leaders, they’ve worked hard in the weight room and it’s just been everything that we’ve really been asking somebody to do in the last two years and that translates a lot more because a lot of the team has bought in a lot more to the process and what we’re trying to do.”
Last season, in the CAA tournament, the Cougars fell in the quarterfinals to No. 1 ranked James Madison, 50-53, after defeating No. 9 ranked UNCW 71-62 in the opening round of tournament action. Noteworthy victories last season included wins against Appalachian State, Winthrop, and a sweep against UNCW.
Following the graduation of Kelsey Booth, Jackie Luna-Castro, and Shannon Hines, the College added three freshmen guards and one forward: Calin Dorsey, Deja Ford, Dajah Logan, and Baleigh Larson. Booth and Luna-Castro are now playing professionally overseas.
Of the 10 teams in the CAA, the preseason coaches’ poll pegged Charleston to finish eighth. With an influx of young talent, the College will rely heavily on the leading returning scorer, Breanna Bolden.
Senior guard Bolden (Edgewater, Md.) performed notably well last season, earning CAA Defensive Player of the Year and CAA All-Defensive team honors for the second consecutive season. As a starter at small forward in 28 games, Bolden saw action in each of the College’s 31 games, averaging 14.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 31.6 minutes per game. She had 91 steals last season, ranking in the top-15 nationally.
Last season, in her second year as the Cougars’ head coach Jackson doubled her win total from her first season and secured her first CAA tournament win in a 71-62 defeat over UNC Wilmington. Prior to being hired by the College, Jackson was an assistant coach and recruitment coordinator at Duke University and Wake Forest University, and began her collegiate coaching career at the University of Richmond in 2005-06.
This season’s marquee match ups for the Cougars include back-to-back tilts with ACC foes; at North Carolina State (Nov. 19) and home versus Virginia Tech (Nov. 22). The season opens at TD Arena against Charlotte (Sunday, 2:00 p.m.).