UMW Sports Press Release:
The University of Montana Western women's basketball team is eager to start the 2022-23 season after a fourth-place finish in Frontier conference play last season. The Bulldogs will begin their season with a home opener against Dickinson State (N.D.) this Saturday, their first home season opener since the 2018-19 National Championship season. After going 15-13 in the regular season, the Bulldogs received an opening round bid to nationals where they lost 67-78 to the University of Science and Arts (Okla.) in Santa Barbara, Calif and finished the season 15-14 overall. The Bulldogs earned a preseason ranking of No. 23 in the country.
"I like the makeup of our team this year." Coach Lindsay Woolley stated. "We have a few kids who have a bunch of experience in Brynley, Mesa, and Shainy; a couple transfers who will add a different dimension to our guard group in Jordan and Payton, and a strong group of freshmen. It might take us a little while to define roles with all of our new faces but we are excited about the team we will have come January."
The Bulldogs are returning six from last seasons squad. Of these six, the Bulldog return all-conference and third-team All-American forward Brynley Fitzgerald. Last season, Fitzgerald started in 25 games and was her team's leading scorer as she averaged 18 points per game. She totaled 451 points on the season, was second in the conference with points per game, fifth for rebounds per game with 6.9, tallied 173 total rebounds on the season, and shot 44.6 percent from the field. "Brynley is extremely competitive and that competitiveness should lead our group. She has improved a different aspect of her game every summer and expect this year to be no different." Coach Lindsay Woolley said.
The Bulldogs are also returning redshirt senior Mesa King, junior Shainy Mack, and sophomore Joelnell Momberg. King started and played in all 25 games last season. She averaged 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while also tacking on 17 blocks. "We can see that Mesa worked really this summer and it will pay off for her during the season. She brings a ton of leadership and experience to the table." Woolley said.
Mack returns after she averaged 9.2 points per game for the Bulldogs last season. She had a 3-point percentage of .322 and tallied 110 rebounds. "Shainy is a tireless worker who sets a standard for her teammates every day. We are expecting a big year for her." Woolley said.
Momberg joined the Bulldogs last season as a freshman and earned an important role for this upcoming season after she averaged 5.4 points per game, shot .354 from the three-point line and .436 from the field. "With a year in our system under her belt now, we can see Nelly getting more comfortable and assertive in her role." Woolley said. "She's a kid with a lot of tools at her disposal on the offensive end and we are expecting to see more of them this year."
The Bulldogs added eight to their roster this season, including three transfers. Jordan Sweeney joins the Bulldogs for her redshirt junior year after transferring from Idaho State University. Sweeney played in 26 games for the Bengals last season and tallied a season high of seven points and six rebounds in a game against Northern Arizona. Payton Hagy joins the Bulldogs as a transfer from North Idaho College. She averaged 9.4 points per game and was her team's leading scorer last season. "Jordan is a highly skilled guard who is going to fit really well with our style of play and Payton is another guard who can handle it, shoot it, and has a really high IQ. This is a talented group we are bringing in. It might be the deepest freshman class we have signed since I have been here. We expect them to push our returners for minutes right away. As a group they are athletic, competitive, and high character student-athletes that are eager to be coached." Woolley said.
The Bulldogs will take to the court this Saturday at home against the Dickinson State (N.D.) at 3PM MST in the Straugh Gymnasium.