COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team begins its 2019-20 season this weekend by hosting the Delta Hotel Northeast-10 Conference/Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Conference Challenge in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights play at 7 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday against squads from the CACC. Delta Hotels by Marriott Burlington in South Burlington is the official host hotel of Saint Michael's Athletics.
Saint Michael's opposes Wilmington (Del.) University for the first time on the opening day before facing Caldwell (N.J.) University for the first time since the 2015-16 season on Saturday. The Purple Knights hold a 2-0 all-time series edge with the Cougars. NE10 counterpart The College of Saint Rose rounds out the four-team challenge and plays in both neutral-site games, squaring off with Caldwell on Friday at 5 p.m. and Wilmington on the final day at 1 p.m.
The Purple Knights host a tournament for the first time since 2014-15, while only one regular from last year's lineup graduated. Players who accounted for three quarters of the team's points, rebounds, assists and steals are back, as are Purple and Gold student-athletes who accumulated 90 of 104 blocks. Junior guard Nicole Anderson (Kittery Point, Maine/Marianapolis Prep) is the top returning scorer (12.6) after finishing seventh in the NE10 in three-pointers made per game (2.2). Senior point guard Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) averaged 9.5 points to go along with 4.9 assists, good for third in the league and fifth in the NCAA East Region. She was fifth in the region in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0). Senior forward Taylor Miller (Falmouth, Mass./Falmouth) turned in 7.2 points and 6.8 rebounds while taking third in the conference and fourth in the region in rejections (2.2).
In 2018-19, Saint Michael's went 11-15 overall and 7-14 in the NE10, but posted a 9-8 mark down the stretch while just missing a postseason berth. The Purple Knights' challenging league schedule left them with 10 losses against squads either nationally or regionally ranked. Saint Rose was 11-16 overall and 4-16 in the NE10, Caldwell finished 11-16 overall and 11-8 in the CACC as runner-up for the North Division title, while Wilmington went 8-19 and 8-11.
Saint Michael's is 43-17 all-time when hosting an in-season tournament, a tradition that dates back to the 1977-78 season. Either home or away, this marks the 10th straight season during which the Purple and Gold plays in a tournament.