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Eighth-ranked Knights extend regional win streak to 24 games

Eighth-ranked Knights extend regional win streak to 24 games

Aiming for a historic regional three-peat, the Community College of Rhode Island women’s basketball team is off to another strong start against its NJCAA Division III Region XXI rivals.

Currently ranked No. 8 in the nation, the Knights are 3-1 overall and 2-0 in regional play heading into a well-deserved weekend off; CCRI resumes play next Tuesday, November 21 at home against Quinsigamond Community College.

The Knights entered the 2023-24 season as defending back-to-back Region XXI champions, including back-to-back trips to the NJCAA D-III National Championships, with an unprecedented 22-game win streak against their regional opponents dating back to the 2021-22 season. That streak is now at 24 consecutive wins following victories against Roxbury and Springfield Tech earlier this month.

The Knights beat Roxbury, 81-37, on November 7 in their home opener and crushed Springfield Tech, 90-11, a week later, also at home.

With 2022-23 NJCAA D-III Second Team All-American Maggie Schwab now playing at the University of New England, sophomore guard Nysia Ortiz (Providence, RI) has emerged into a legitimate scoring threat, averaging a team-high 22.7 points per game in three starts.

Freshman guard Angelisse Melendez (Pawtucket, RI), a Saint Raphael Academy graduate, dropped 34 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc against Roxbury and is now second behind Ortiz at 18.3 points per game. A key reserve on last year’s team, sophomore guard Alissia O’Hagan (Woonsocket, RI) is averaging 11.0 points per game while freshman center and Classical High School Class of 2023 graduate Stephanie Walker (Providence, RI) has started all four games and is averaging a team-best 9.0 rebounds per game.

The list of departures from last year’s team also includes standouts Elizabeth Bruno, Michelle Moreno, Ashley Lima, and Chloe Rayko, but the Knights remain the class of the northeast under the guidance of head coach Doug Haynes, who has brought in another talented freshman class anchored by Melendez, Walker, forward Tatiana Pereira (Pawtucket, RI), and guard Brianlys Simono (Warwick, RI).

As the Knights look to climb the D-III national rankings, where they reached as high as fifth last year, their toughest competition in the region figures to be Massasoit, last year’s runner-up, which just beat Quinsigamond by 90 points in its season opener, and Northern Essex, which had its program reinstated for the 2023-24 season after a 13-year stretch of dormancy and is 1-1 following a recent 104-14 win over Springfield Tech.

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