SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University women's basketball team continues the opening week of the season as it travels to Providence to take on Ocean State rival Brown on Sunday afternoon. The game will be played at the Pizzitola Sports Center and is slated for a 1 p.m. tip-off.
SCOUTING THE BROWN BEARS:
Sunday will be the first game of the season for Brown. Last season, Brown ended the year with a 17-13 record and finished fourth in the Ivy League with a 7-7 record in conference play.
Justine Gaziano led the Bears in scoring last season, averaging 16.5 points per game and shot 48% from the floor. Shayna Mehtra also returns the team after averaging 15.7 points for the Bears a season ago.
The head coach for Brown is Sarah Behn, who will begin her fourth season at Brown when the team's square off on Sunday. Behn has led the team to a 42-44 record in her three years as the Brown leader, improving each season she's been at the helm.
SERIES HISTORY vs. BROWN
Sunday marks the 10th meeting between the two schools. The Bears lead the series, holding a 5-4 edge over the Bulldogs. Bryant won the last meeting between the two schools last season when the Bulldogs topped the Brown, 70-67.
The Bulldogs fell to Boston College to start the season, but the Nov. 10 matchup with the Eagles marked the start of basketball season.
Senior Naomi Ashley (Hamilton, Ont.) had a breakout season last year, and started right where she left off at Boston College. Ashley led the Bulldogs with 12 points, and was tied for the game-high with nine rebounds. For her play last season, Ashley was named to the Northeast Conference All-Tournament Team.
MEET THE NEWCOMERS
The Bryant University women's basketball team welcomes ve new faces to the team this season. Mary Besselink (Kingston, Ont.) and Kandis Taylor (Sunrise, Fla.) are new guards for Mary Burke's squad this year, while Hannah Scanlan (Rumson, N.J.) and Julia Kelner (Fayetteville, N.Y.) will see time at the forward position. Brooke Bjelko (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) comes to the Bulldogs as a center.
NOTHING CAN STOP ME, I'M HOLLOWAY UP
Sophomore wing Sydney Holloway (Morgantown, W. Va.) was named to the NEC All-Rookie team last season after an impressive first-year campaign. Holloway had averages of 8.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1 steal per game last season. Holloway's best performance came at Sacred Heart, when she went for 21 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, had four steals and two blocks, all career-highs.
Kierra Palmer (Aberdeen, Md.) led the NEC in assists last season, totaling 155 on the season (4.8/game). Palmer had double-digit assists in three contests in the 2016-17 season, including a Division I program record of 14 against Saint Francis U on Feb. 18. Palmer also scored 12 points that game, earning the first double-double of her career.
Junior Haley Connors (West Hartford, Conn.) was third in the NEC last season in 3-point field goal percentage. Connors was 39.9% from long range last season, behind only Robert Morris' Megan Smith (46.5%) and Sacred Heart's Shelby Hickey (40%). In the NEC Seminal win over SHU, Connors was 5-5 from downtown and finished the game with 17 points, which tied a career high.
Bryant led the Northeast Conference in rebounds last season, crashing the glass and collecting 1,274 boards. The Bulldogs held opponents to 1,089 rebounds over the course of the season, which equated to a difference of 5.8 per game in Bryant's favor. They outrebounded opponents in 23 of the 32 games played last season.
POWER FIVE DRAW
With Bryant's beginning the season at Boston College, it marked the eighth time over the past five years that the Bulldogs have played a team in one of the Power 5 conferences. Last season, Bryant played at Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Providence and opened the season at Seton Hall in 2015.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Bryant is scheduled to play six schools that made national postseason appearances last season. Robert Morris received a bid into the NCAA Tournament, while Sacred Heart, New Hampshire, and James Madison all participated in the WNIT. Saint Francis U and Brown were both selected to participate in the WBI.
EVERSON NAMED CAPTAIN
Bryant senior Kathleen Everson (Farmingville, N.Y.) was named a captain ahead of the 2017-18 season by head coach Mary Burke. Everson, a forward from Farmingville, New York, scored a career-high eight points and had four rebounds at Boston College in the season opener on Nov. 10.
TICKET TO RIDE
Season ticket packages are available for the 2017-18 Bryant University men's and women's basketball seasons. Fans can purchase tickets online at bryantbulldogs.com/tickets or by calling the Bryant Athletics Ticket Office at 401-319-TIXX.