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Bulldogs set for first road series at CCSU

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University women's basketball team will take the floor on Tuesday, Feb. 9 after not playing a single game in just under a month. The Bulldogs are set to travel to Central Connecticut for a two-game series on Feb. 9 and 10 at 4 and 7 p.m. The road series marks the first time that Bryant will hit the road for an NEC matchup.

Central Connecticut
Detrick Gymnasium (New Britain, Conn.)
Game Time:
Game one – 4 p.m. | Game two – 7 p.m.
Live Stats: 
Presto Stats Game one | Game two 
Watch Live:
NEC Front Row - Game one | Game two 
Game Notes:
Game 9/10 – Central Connecticut
Social Media:
 Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | #AllHeart | #AllHustle | #NECWBB

Last season, Bryant swept the Blue Devils in two double-digit victories (59-47 & 62-51). Brooke Bjelko led the Black and Gold in game one last year with 15 points and nine rebounds, but it was Nicole Gallagher who led the returners in game two with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Despite last season's sweep, CCSU still holds the all-time series record, 7-5, in Detrick Gymnasium. Bryant's 62-51 triumph last year was the first that the Bulldogs pulled out in Connecticut since 2015.

Central Connecticut posts a 2-6 record so far this season and has only played against NEC opponents. Central's two wins came in the first game of the 2020-21 season when they topped St. Francis Brooklyn, 87-72, and then in the second game of the Fairleigh Dickinson series, 77-56. Against the Terriers, senior Emma McCamus tied her career-high of 30 points and was accompanied by Ashley Forker (17) and Ashley Berube (14) in the double-digit club. In their second win of the season, the Blue Devils posted four double-digit scorers led by junior Forever Toppin with 16 points. Since the 21-point victory against FDU, Central endured a four-game losing streak thanks to a pair of series sweeps from Mount St. Mary's and Sacred Heart.

Berube leads the team in scoring and rebounding averaging 15 points and 9.3 rebounds a night. But its Central's ability to handle the ball that's the key to its success as they rank first in the conference in assists per game (13.5) and the fewest turnovers (132 total and 16.5 a game). On the defensive end, the Blue Devils lead the conference and rank fourth nationally with seven blocks a game after posting three double-digit block performances so far this season. Sophomore forward Jamey Napolean leads the team with 19 on the year averaging 2.4 per game.  

Saint Francis handed Bryant its first pair of NEC losses with a sweep in Smithfield.

Bjelko shined in game one with a career-high 30 points off 14-of-18 shooting. Sophomore Alana Perkins also chipped in double figures with 10 points thanks to 2-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.

In game two, it was Fatou Jallow who led the Bryant offense with 17 points, but Nicole Gallagher trailed closely behind with 16. The second game of the series saw six lead changes but an 8-0 push by the Red Flash in the fourth quarter put the nail in the coffin.

Saint Francis outrebounded the Bulldogs in both games which was out of character for Bryant who typically controls the boards.

Junior transfer, Fatou Jallow, has made an immediate impact on the Bulldogs this season. A transfer from Salt Lake City Community College, Jallow posted double-figure scoring in three games so far this season averaging 8.5 a night. Most recently, Jallow set a career-best while wearing the Black and Gold with 17 points and five steals against Saint Francis U. The Stockholm, Sweden native also leads Bryant as one of three captains.

Brooke Bjelko posts four double-double efforts in the first eight games to start the season. She has been key in Bryant's success this season with three 20+ point performances including a career-high 30 points against Saint Francis. The senior is the first Bulldogs since Jenniqua Bailey '15 in 2014 to accomplish the 30-point feat. Bjelko was also awarded the first three NEC Player of the Week nods, marking the first Bulldog to earn three-straight in the D1 era. Bjelko averages a double-double with 18.3 ppg and 10.6 rebounds per game.

As a team, Bryant posted a season-best 15 steals in game two against Saint Francis U. Both Nicole Gallagher and Fatou Jallow led the team with five apiece followed by Alana Perkins with four, and one from Kandis Taylor. The 15-steal performance ties the team for ninth all-time. The record is set at 17 team steals in a single game which was accomplished at Colgate in 2011 and against Saint Francis U in 2012.