SPARTANBURG, S.C. ( --- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team was picked to finish first in the Southern Conference Coaches’ and Media Preseason polls and junior Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) was selected the preseason favorite for Player of the Year.

Joyner is joined on the coaches’ all-conference team by senior Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) and junior Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.). The Mocs were the only team to have three players on the 10-person all-league team. ETSU and Furman each placed two members on the team, joined by Mercer, Samford and UNCG with one each.

Payne was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year last season but was not named to the All-Conference team. Joyner and Shumpert both earned spots on the all-conference team and Joyner was tabbed the SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

She averaged 12 points and 8.2 rebounds last season and four blocked shots per game. Her 132 swats smashed the league record for a single season and she ranks in the SoCon top 10 in that category. In the NCAA standings, Joyner ranked fifth in the nation for blocked shots, 25th for field goal percentage (52.7) and 105th for rebounds per game.

Shumpert, along with all-conference honors, was selected to the league all-tournament first team. She was 10-of-18 from the floor in the championship game against ETSU with three 3-pointers for a career-high 26 points in the overtime contest. She was second on the team in scoring with 11.5 points per game and had a team-best 68 treys. She was ranked 85th in the country with a 3-point field goal percentage of 36.6 and 133rd for 3-point field goals per game.

Payne, an all-tournament 2nd team selection, ranked 19th in the nation with a SoCon-best 2.39 assist-turnover ratio and was one of 250 players ranked in the nation for assists per game (193) and steals per game (166). She was second on the team with 61 steals and had a team-best 110 assists with just 46 turnovers. She averaged 5.4 points at the point guard position and had 2.9 rebounds per game.

Chattanooga received all possible first place votes in the coaches’ poll with 49 points followed by Furman (36) in second and ETSU (35) and Samford (35) tied for third. UTC garnered 19 of 20 first place votes in the SoCon media poll for 159 points followed by ETSU with 122 points and the remaining first place vote. Samford was third (113) followed by Furman (103) and Mercer in fifth with 101 votes.

The Mocs enter the season with nine players returning from a team last season that ranked as high as 17th in the AP Top 25 Poll and 18th in the USA Today Coaches Top 25. Along with the trio, UTC head coach Jim Foster returns all-freshman team member Keiana Gilbert (Pulaski, Tenn.) who earned ESPNW National Player of the Week honors for her performance in the Mocs win over No. 4 Tennessee and her sister Aryanna Gilbert who was a starter before a season-ending knee injury sidelined her in early December.

UTC ranked first in the nation for fewest personal fouls per game (11.1) and were second for scoring defense, allowing opponents just 50.5 points per game. Chattanooga was ninth for won-lost percentage (87.9), 18th for blocked shots per game (5.7) and 19th for 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.6). The Mocs averaged 44.2 percent from the field (21st) and outscored opponents by 12.2 points per game (25th).

Also returning are juniors Moses Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.), and Sydney Vanlandingham (Hermitage, Tenn.) along with sophomores Anna Claire Noblit (Tuscumbia, Ala.) and Ansley Chilton (Trenton, Ga.). Queen Alford (Decatur, Ga.) and Ashlyn Wert (Lancaster, Pa.) both sat out last season and will join the roster along with freshmen Nakeia Burks (Huntsville, Ala.) and Molly Melton (Knoxville, Tenn.).

Alford is a two-time Atlantic Sun All-Conference performer and was the league Freshman of the Year in 2013. She led Jacksonville University in scoring both years and was second on the team in rebounding her sophomore season.

The Mocs open the season Friday, November 13 at home against McNeese State in the preseason Women’s NIT. Chattanooga will also play host to reigning National Champion UConn on Monday, November 30 at the Roundhouse.

Tickets for the 2015-16 season are on sale at the McKenzie Arena box office. Reserved and general admission seating is available. Fans can also purchase a four-pack to guarantee seating for the game against the Huskies. Single game tickets are not yet on sale.

SoCon Coaches Poll

Predicted Order of Finish

Team (First-Place Votes)              Total

1. Chattanooga (7)                        49

2. Furman                                          36

3.  ETSU                                                35

      Samford (1)                                  35          

5. Mercer                                           29

6. UNCG                                             19

7. Western Carolina                       11

8. Wofford                                         10

2015-16 Preseason All-Conference Team

Shamauria Bridges, ETSU

Tianna Tarter, ETSU

Whitney Bunn, Furman

Holli Wilkins, Furman

Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer

Lucy Mason, UNCG

Taylor Reece, Samford

Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga

Alicia Payne, Chattanooga

Chelsey Shumpert, Chattanooga

2015-16 Preseason Player of the Year

Jasmine Joyner, Chattanooga

SoCon Women’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish – Media Poll

Team (First-Place Votes)              Total

1. Chattanooga (19)                       159

2. ETSU (1)                                          122

3. Samford                                          113

4. Furman                                            103

5. Mercer                                            101

6. Western Carolina                        49

7. Wofford                                          40

8. UNCG                                               33