Bulldogs face Mids in Monday showdown

Photo by Tom O'Brien

BULLDOGS HIT THE ROAD TO FACE MIDSHIPMEN MONDAY NIGHT AT 7 P.M.

FULL GAME NOTES
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THE PARTICULARS
Bryant hits the road after three-straight home games and travels to Annapolis, Md., for a Monday night matchup against first-time opponent Navy (7 p.m.). The contest is the Bulldogs' second against a service academy this season after taking down Army in Smithfield, R.I., to open December action.

THE SERIES
This is the first meeting between the Bulldogs and the Midshipmen in the history of the two programs at any level.

SCOUTING THE MIDS
Monday's contest marks Navy's third-straight game against a Northeast Conference opponent, and the Mids are 1-1 against the league after topping Monmouth, 85-66, and falling to Mount St. Mary's, 72-65, on the road over the last week. Navy is 5-6 overall on the year and are paced by Tilman Dunbar's 10.5 points per game. Dunbar posted his top two scoring performances of the season in his last two outings, averaging 19 points per game against the NEC. Brandon Venturini is good for 8.9 points per game for the Mids, while Worth Smith posts 8.8 per contest with a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game.  Smith also leads the squad in steals (15) and blocks (14), while Dunbar has handed out 60 assists on the season so far. As a team, Navy shoots 42.4 percent from the floor and 34.7 percent from long range, led by Venturini (23-67) and Kendall Knorr (18-43).

BRYANT vs. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE
Bryant enters Saturday's matchup 1-7 against current Patriot League members in its short Division I history and earned its first win over the conference in nine all-time meetings earlier this month with a 70-59 victory over Army. Six of Bryant's tilts against Patriot League constituents have come against the Black Knights (1-5), with two more coming against Lehigh (0-2) and the final meeting coming on neutral ground against Bucknell (0-1) in 2009-10. Monday's game marks the second of three such matchups for the Bulldogs not just this year, but this month, and Bryant wraps up play against the Patriot League when it visits Lehigh on Dec. 29.

FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME
The Bulldogs got back on track Saturday afternoon against Binghamton after seeing their four-game winning streak snapped by Yale Wednesday night, recording new season bests in points (78), 3-pointer made (12), rebounds (40), assists (20) and 3-point field goal percentage (.522) against the Bearcats. Bryant scored 51 points in the opening half alone, marking the first time the program has scored 50 or more in a single frame since Feb. 8, 2012 (51 at Sacred Heart). As a team, the Bulldogs dished out 20 assists for the first time in nearly 22 months (23 vs. Central Connecticut Feb. 12, 2011). Dyami Starks, who tied his career high with 25 first-half points against the Bearcats, connected a season-best six 3-pointers as well ­­­— the first time a Bulldog player has hit that many triples since teammate Corey Maynard did so against Quinnipiac nearly a year ago (Dec. 3, 2011).

ALMOST ANNIVERSARIES
Coach Tim O'Shea approaches his 150th-career win as a head coach and enters Monday's contest with 145. Meanwhile, the Bryant men's basketball program sits just two wins away from its 650th all time.

LEAGUE LEADERS
After his six-trey performance against the Bearcats Saturday, sophomore guard Dyami Starks now leads the Northeast Conference in 3-pointers per game, averaging 3.25 each time out. He isn't the only one at the top of the standings, though, as teammate and senior captain Frankie Dobbs posts a league-best 2.50 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Bulldogs themselves sit at the top of the NEC ladder with a .625 winning percentage (5-3), a place they've never been prior to the 2012-13 season, and the team leads the conference in 3-point field goal defense, limiting opponents to a 28.9 percent clip from downtown.

A STARK CONTRAST
The Bulldogs have been a different team with the arrival of sophomore guard Dyami Starks. Starks leads the team in points per game (18.3), field goals made (53), 3-pointers made (26), 3-point field goal percentage (.406) and free throw percentage (.824) in 2012-13, and the Columbia transfer averages 20.8 points per game with a .521 shooting percentage in Bryant's five wins this year. The Minnesota native has scored 20 or more points in three-straight outings and in four of the team's last five games, hitting a career-high 25 at Brown Nov. 21 and again versus Binghamton Saturday. Starks's scoring average ranks fourth in the Northeast Conference, and he was awarded the program's first-ever Northeast Conference Player of the Week accolade on Nov. 26. The guard — who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules — averages 34.5 minutes per game  and has four of the five highest single-game scoring outputs for the Bulldogs this season.

UP NEXT
The Bulldogs return home to the Chace Athletic Center for their final pre-holiday contest Dec. 22 against Dartmouth (1 p.m.) but not before taking an 11-day break for final exams. Fans can watch the contest live on NECFrontRow.com or hear it on WOON 1240AM.

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