College Basketball: Chanelle Melton returns to Bridgewater State

College Basketball: Chanelle Melton returns to Bridgewater State

By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- The course of the 2016-17 Bridgewater State University women's basketball season changed only 2:05 into the opening game.

That is when the top scorer from the previous year, Chanelle Melton of Brockton, suffered a season-ending left knee injury.

The shorthanded Bears went 12-15 for their first sub-.500 record since the 2003-04 season as they missed Melton, who had 748 points and 362 rebounds in three year.

Melton, who underwent surgery last December, has returned as a fifth-year senior. She is expected to come off the bench in the early part of the season while continuing to get the knee as healthy as possible.

"It hurt not having her," said coach Bridgett Casey, now in her 21st season. "We're hopeful she'll come back close to 100 percent by conference play.

"She's a lot further than I thought she'd be in her rehab. Getting her back sooner than I thought is great. She is great not only on the court but off. She's a great communicator and makes things happen."

The Bears open the season by hosting the Cave Classic at the Tinsley Center. BSU plays Endicott Friday at 5:30 p.m. and will face either Colby-Sawyer or Norwich on Saturday afternoon.

BSU returns just two starters – Rhiana Page and Sara DaSilva – and will have more size than it usually does.

"It's a new look for us," said Casey. "It's a different type of Bridgewater State team. We're a little bit bigger in the post. We're still looking to get out and run, but we have a half-court set now."

Page was the Bears' top scorer, averaging 10.8 points to go with 5.7 rebounds as a junior.

"She'll play anywhere from the (point guard) to (power forward," said Casey. "She's really a key for us this year. She's the type of kid wherever we need her, that's where she'll be."

DaSilva was third on the team, averaging 8.8 points "and had some games where she made an impact," said Casey.

Senior Megan Ianiro, who appeared in 20 games, will start at the point.

"Her basketball IQ is extremely high," said Casey. "This is her team this year.″

Up front will be sophomore Kayla Carter, who played 17.3 minutes off the bench, and freshman Destiny Fitzgerald until Melton is ready to start.

The bench includes freshman Leah Simmons of Abington, a Fontbonne graduate, Janet Maher, Olivia DelGrosso and Payton Viner.

Three key reserves – Jennifer Whyte, Nicole Bostick of Bridgewater and Elise McGovern of Raynham – have been dealing with either illness or injuries and will provide a boost when they are ready.

BSU finished 6-6 in the MASCAC last season, losing to Westfield State in double overtime in the semifinal round of the conference tourney. This year, the Bears are picked to finish third in the conference preseason poll.

2017-2018 MASCAC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll (PDF)