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Bulldogs earn No. 5 seed in NEC Tournament

DSPics.com Photo
DSPics.com Photo

TOURNAMENT CENTRAL | TOURNAMENT BRACKET

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – For the sixth-straight season, the Bryant University women's basketball team will compete in the Northeast Conference Tournament after earning the five-seed with an 8-10 conference record. In a new tournament format, the Bulldogs will head to Loretto, Pennsylvania, on the campus of Saint Francis U to meet Sacred Heart in the quarterfinal round. The Red Flash and Fairleigh Dickinson Knights meet in the other game at the SFU pod.

THE PARTICULARS

Opponent: Sacred Heart University
Game Time: Wednesday, March 7 – 8 p.m.
Watch Live: ESPN3 (PxP: Paul Dottino; Color: Pam Roecker)
Live Stats: Saint Francis U
Game Notes: Bryant | Sacred Heart

SCOUTING THE POD
No. 1
Saint Francis U
The Red Flash earned the number one overall seed in the NEC Tournament, finishing the year with a 21-9 record and a 16-2 mark in league play. SFU won the tiebreaker with Robert Morris for the one seed, earning a higher spot in the NCAA RPI to come away with the top spot in the conference. Saint Francis U will take on Fairleigh Dickinson in the opening game of the day, meeting the Knights at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Jessica Kovatch leads both the Red Flash and NEC in scoring, posting 24 points per game in the 2017-18 season. Ace Harrison continues to be a force in the conference, posting averages of 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game for her team.

SFU is coached by Joe Haigh, who has led his team to a 90-87 record in his six seasons with the program.

No. 4 – Sacred Heart
The Pioneers finished the regular season with a 13-16 record with a 9-9 mark against NEC opponents and earned the fourth seed in the tournament.

Candice Leatherwood comes into the tournament as SHU's leader in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game this season. Katherine Haines has also been a standout on the court for the Pioneers and is among the league leaders in both scoring (12.3 points) and rebounding (8.6 boards per game).

Sacred Heart is coached by Jessica Mannetti, who is in her fifth year at the school. She has led the Pioneers to a 78-75 record heading into the tournament and has earned a berth into the postseason each year.

No. 8 – Fairleigh Dickinson
After a 15-14 season and a 7-11 league record, Fairleigh Dickinson earned the eight-seed in the NEC Tournament.

Amina Markovic finished the regular season with averages of 12.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Madelyn Comly also averages double-figures for the Knights, posting 10.4 points and 4.2 rebounds on the year.

FDU is coached by Peter Cinella, who is in his 11th season with the school. He has led the Knights to NEC Tournament appearances in each of the last four seasons, including the 2017-18 campaign. Since taking over, Cinella has posted a 118-211 record at FDU.

SERIES HISTORY vs. THE POD
No. 1 – Saint Francis U

Bryant and Saint Francis U are almost even in the all-time series, with the Red Flash having an 9-8 advantage against the Bulldogs. The teams have met twice this season, with both games going in favor of SFU.

No. 4 – Sacred Heart
The Bulldogs and Pioneers have met 20 times previous, with Sacred Heart leading the all-time series, 14-6. The two squads have met up twice this season, with Bryant coming away victorious in both games, including a 60-56 thriller at the Chace Athletic Center on Feb. 5.

No. 8 – Fairleigh Dickinson
Bryant leads the all-time series with Fairleigh Dickinson, 13-4. The teams split the season series this year: Bryant winning at Fairleigh Dickinson and FDU winning on the road in Smithfield. In the Feb. 3 between the two schools, Bryant sophomore Sydney Holloway (Morgantown, W.Va.) posted career highs in both scoring (29) and rebounds (22). Her rebounding mark tied the program record.

WHAT TO KNOW: BULLDOG EDITION
Holloway heads into the NEC Tournament as the team leader in both scoring, 17.4 points, and rebounding, 10.5 rebounds per game. The sophomore heads into the matchup with Sacred Heart with six-consecutive double-doubles and is averaging 19 points and 13.3 rebounds in her last six games. She is the only NEC player to average a double-double on the season and won the NEC Player of the Week award on Feb. 21.

Redshirt junior Naomi Ashley (Hamilton, Ont.) has been one of the most versatile players in the conference. At the conclusion of the regular season, Ashley posted averages of 9.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 2.6 assists per game. She set the Division I program record for steals in a game earlier this season, coming away with 9 steals against Holy Cross on Nov. 26.

Junior Kierra Palmer (Aberdeen, Md.) ends the regular-season as the league leader in assists per game, averaging a career-best 5.3 helpers per game. After suffering an injury and missing five games, the Bulldogs won five-straight games upon Palmer's return. In those games, Palmer averaged 5.7 helpers per contest.

Freshman forward Hannah Scanlan (Rumson, N.J.) took home two-straight NEC Rookie of the Week awards. On Dec. 29 versus Wagner, Scanlan scored 27 points against the Seahawks, which is a Division I program record for a freshman. She had another 20-point performance at home against LIU Brooklyn, scoring 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor. Scanlan finished the regular season as the league leader in field goal percentage, shooting at a .529 clip.

The Bulldogs are coached by Mary Burke, who is in her 27th season as the Bulldog leader. Burke enters the 2018 NEC Tournament just 10 wins shy of 400, compiling a record of 390-391.