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Bryant hosts Merrimack in midweek tilt

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. - The Bryant University women's basketball team hosts Merrimack in a midweek tilt on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. The Northeast Conference matchup is a single game that will be streamed on both NEC Front Row and COX YurView New England which is channel 4 for Rhode Island viewers. 

Opponent: Merrimack
Location: Chace Athletic Center (Smithfield, R.I.)
Game Time: 6 p.m.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Watch Live: NEC Front Row | COX YurView New England (RI Channel 4)
Game Notes: Game 13 - Merrimack
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | #AllHeart | #AllHustle | #NECWBB

The Bulldogs host Merrimack on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. Despite the two-game series format of the NEC schedule, the two teams will meet for just one game this season. 
The Warriors swept the Bulldogs last season in their first season competing as a Division I team. Merrimack still can not contend for the NEC postseason. Brooke Bjelko tallied 13 points in both games a year ago leading the Bryant returners.
The two teams are no stranger to each other as the two have an extensive Division II history with one another. Despite the sweep last season, the Bulldogs hold the all-time series record, 30-20, but the Warriors hold the Division I series, 2-0. 
Merrimack isn't finding quite the success that they had a year ago as they post a 3-7 overall and conference record, compared to the 20-9 overall and 13-5 NEC records from its first season as a D1 program. The Warriors have only played against NEC foes this season and were swept by Fairleigh Dickinson, Wagner, and Saint Francis U before picking up a sweep of their own against LIU and splitting the series with Central Connecticut. Merrimack graduated its star player and NEC Player of the Year Denia Davis-Stewart. The upperclassmen duo of Mayson Kimball and Kate Mager have picked up the scoring responsibilities since the absence of Davis-Stewart as they each average double-figure scoring. 
The Warriors showcase a young roster of eight underclassmen and five upperclassmen. The young roster is paired with a brand new head coach, Kelly Morrone, in her first year as head coach of the Warriors. 
The Pioneers swept Bryant over the weekend in back-to-back 14-point deficits. The Bulldogs played the series without two of their biggest scoring contributors and outside shooters, Nicole Gallagher and Alana Perkins. Bryant felt their absence as they shot a combined five-of-24 from three-point range during the two-game series.  From the field, the team shot 30% and below shooting 15-for-56 in game one followed by 16-for-53 in game two. 
Brooke Bjelko led in both games as the lone Bulldog to tally double-figures. Bjelko netted 16 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double in game one, and posted 12 points, five rebounds in game two. 
Bryant is known for its dominating rebounders and nothing has changed in the 2020-21 season. Bryant has outrebounded its opponents in all but three games and leads the conference with 40.58 rebounds per game. Bjelko leads the Bulldogs averaging 9.9 a night and also ranked first in the NEC and 27th nationally with 3.8 offensive boards a night. At Central Connecticut, the team pulled down 48 rebounds, 21 of which were from the offensive side of the floor, led by Bjelko with seven offensive rebounds. 
The Bulldogs are 3-0 when they score 70+ points and are 3-0 when they lead at halftime. Bryant also proves to have its best chance at winning when shooting between 40-49% from the field, as they are 4-2 when they achieve the FG percentage compared to the 1-5 mark when shooting under 40%. Lastly, dominating the boards will continue to lead Bryant to success as all five wins came when the Bulldogs outrebounded their opponent. The Black and Gold dropped all three games where they were outrebounded and fell to Sacred Heart when both teams pulled down 40 rebounds each.