Trio of women’s basketball players enter transfer portal after Rizzotti’s firing

Media Credit: File Photo

Redshirt junior forward Neila Luma looks to pass during a game against George Mason. Luma is one of three players to leave the team since head coach Jennifer Rizzotti was fired last week.

Redshirt junior forward Neila Luma, freshman center Ali Brigham and freshman forward Caranda Perea intend to transfer from the women’s basketball program, athletic department spokesperson Kevin Burke confirmed last week. 

The trio departed the team after head coach Jennifer Rizzotti and her coaching staff were fired March 15. The three players combined for 23.4 points per game, firing at a 44.8 percent clip, and 13.1 rebounds per game.

All three players did not return requests for comment. 

Luma has been a key starter in Rizzotti’s squad since her freshman year. In her debut season in 2017-18, Luma started all but two games, netting 7.1 points a contest. She averaged 9.3 points and 5.5 boards during the team’s Atlantic 10 tournament run, helping the program nab its seventh A-10 crown

Her presence on the court expanded during the 2018-19 season when she secured a team-leading 10.4 points and 6.1 boards. She started another 28 games, playing 28.1 minutes a game. 

Luma’s junior season was cut short after she suffered a knee injury against Maryland five games into the season. 

The Macungie, Pennsylvania, native made her return to the court for the 2020-21 season. Luma averaged 40 percent from the floor and 7.7 points a game in her final season with the Colonials. She amassed a season-high 18 points against Old Dominion.

In her last game donning the buff and blue, Luma finished 2-of-6 from the field and five rebounds in the Colonials’ (9-14, 5-9 A-10) 5854 overtime loss to No. 6 Richmond in the second round of the A-10 tournament March 11.

She also contributed to off-the-court efforts to promote racial equality and social justice, serving as the vice president of Athletes Driving Change. Luma also nabbed spots on the A-10 preseason All-Conference Second Team in 2019-20 and the preseason All-Conference Third Team in 2020-21. 

Brigham and Perea were in their first years with GW. The offense flowed through Brigham for the majority of the season. She averaged a team-leading 11.9 points on a team-high 50.4 percent from the field. She netted 21.2 percent of the team’s total points. 

The center was the second  in her family to play for the Colonials after her father Bill Brigham competed with the men’s basketball program for two seasons, helping his squad reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. 

Perea missed the first two games of the season but saw her first minutes against Virginia Tech. In an off-the-bench role, Perea scored a career-high 10 points against Fordham five games later. She missed three more games before scoring two points in 11 minutes against George Mason. In her 16.5 minutes per game, Perea scored 4.2 points and ripped 2.3 boards off the glass per game. 

After the coaching staff was let go last week, 10 of the 12 players on the roster released a statement in support of Rizzotti and her staff. Brigham and Perea attached their names to the statement, but Luma and graduate student guard Sydney Zambrotta did not.

“Each of us has relationships with our coaching staff that go beyond basketball and we will forever have their backs, as they did ours,” the players wrote in the statement. “Unfortunately, we understand that this is a business decision, but for us this is more personal because this is our family.”

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