Women’s Basketball Set to Take on Providence College Tonight

Providence, RI- The Brown women’s basketball team is set to open its 2009-10 campaign tonight when it takes on the Friars of Providence College at 8:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live and can be viewed from B2 Networks on brownbears.com. Live stats will also be provided for up-to-date statistics during the game this evening.

Tonight marks the 900th game as the Bears open their 36th season of varsity play. The squad is 14-21 all-time in season openers, as Brown’s last season-opening victory came against Fairfield in the 2005-06 Ivy Championship season.

Providence College was picked to finish 15th in the 2009-10 Big East pre-season coaches poll. Last season, the Friars recorded a 10-20 overall record and were just 4-12 in BE play. The Friars finished in a three-way tie for 13th place n the league standings with a 4-12 record. PC’s four league wins were the most since the 2001-02 campaign when the squad posted a 7-9 mark in Big East regular-season action and finished eighth in the standings.

Tonight marks the 20th time these two teams will battle, as Providence leads the all-time series, 15-4, including victories in each of the last three meetings.

Fans can expect a fast-paced and up-tempo style of play from Head Coach Jean Marie Burr’s team this season, as senior point guard and captain Courtney Lee (Archer, FL) will lead the backcourt. Last season she added 5.1 points and brought down 4.3 rebounds per game while leading the Ivy League in steals (68) averaging 2.4 per game, and ranked seventh overall in assists (87) with 3.1 per game.

Sophomore Hannah Passafuime (Soquel, CA), an excellent long-range shooter, is back from suffering a season-ending injury during the 2008-09 campaign. Passafuime showed promise during her rookie season as she lit up for a career-high 16 points against West Virginia and followed it up with back-to-back double digit scoring games against Boston University (11 points) and Long Island (14 points).

Senior Christina Johnson (Oakland, CA) will also add strength and versatility to the lineup. Johnson tenacity earned her the team’s Defensive Spark Award for the second consecutive year as she saw action in 28 games. Lindsay Steele (Erial, NJ) also returns to the lineup, as freshmen Sheila Dixon (Schenectady, NY), Taylor Masaschi (Chatham, MA) and Lindsay Nickel (Los Altos, CA) will all vie for time on the court.

Brown’s frontcourt will feature the return of four players, three of whom started at least 11 games last season. Six-foot-one senior, Natalie Bonds (Taveres, FL), averaged 26 minutes in 19 games played, and scored seven points and grabbed a team-high 5.3 rebounds-per-game. The forward exploded for a 20-point and nine-rebound performance against Rhode Island, and an 18-point and nine-rebound game against Cornell. She also grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds against Miami and accompanied it with seven points to receive All-Tournament team honors at the UM Holiday Tournament. In Ivy League play, Bonds averaged 10 points and six rebounds in five games before sustaining an injury.

Betsy Jacobson (Rochester, NY) also showed promise, as she earned the Sixth Player Award for the last two seasons. Battling through injuries, Jacobson still competed in 24 games, starting in 11. She shot 68 percent from the free throw line (17-25) and averaged three rebounds per game. Sarah Delk (Atlanta, GA) started in 11 of 28 games and shot 74 percent from the charity stripe (49-66), and scored in double digits in four games, which included a career-high 16 points and nine boards against Princeton.

Also adding depth is Aileen Daniels (Waldwick, NJ), who received the team’s Most Improved Player award and newcomer Caroline King (Valencia, PA). Daniels saw action in 22 games for the Bears last season, as King earned WIPIAL All-Section First Team honors at Oakland Catholic.