Morgan Birmelin, one of the nation’s top returning Division III guards, is back to lead a veteran lineup, making DeSales University the favorite to win the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Conference women’s basketball title.
The JB Hoops and Honesdale High School alum will have to get the Bulldogs past two schools from closer to home if she is going to lead DeSales to a Freedom title.
In a preseason poll of conference coaches released Oct. 24, DeSales received six of the eight first-place votes. Misericordia University received the other two votes and King’s College was third in the poll.
Birmelin led the MAC Freedom while ranking fourth among National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III players in assists and eighth in steals last season. That production helped her earn first-team MAC Freedom all-star status, along with first-team All-Region and honorable mention All-American from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Entering her senior season, Birmelin has 738 points, 425 assists, 343 rebounds and 232 steals in her career. She averaged 10.7 points, 6.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 steals while starting all 27 games in the 2017-18 season.
The 5-foot-7 senior guard has ranked in the top 50 nationally in assists in all three seasons of her college career. Birmelin’s 177 assists last season were the second-best in school history and her 104 steals was the third-best ever at DeSales.
DeSales has finished second in the MAC Freedom each of the last three seasons. The Bulldogs were 16-11 last season when they lost to FDU-Florham, 76-59, in the championship game.
Birmelin is one of four returning starters, three of them seniors.