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Niagara women's basketball adds two to coaching staff, Jamie Smith promoted to assistant coach


PierceNIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Niagara women's basketball head coach Jada Pierce has announced two additions to the coaching staff for the 2018-19 season. Brianna Chambers has been hired as an assistant coach and Kayla DeCriscio will serve as the director of basketball operations. Jamie Smith, who was the director of basketball operations last season, has been promoted into an assistant coaching position.

Chambers comes to Niagara with a strong coaching background. Most recently, Chambers was an assistant coach at the University of Portland from 2014-18. At Portland, Chambers was the co-defensive coordinator, as well as the guards' skill development coach. She also led leadership and Life After Basketball classes. While at Portland, she coached the 2015 State Farm College 3-Point Championship winner Cassandra Brown, two All-West Coast Conference (WCC) Second Team selections and seven All-WCC honorable mentions and academic team selections.

"Brianna brings a wealth of coaching experience at different levels to Niagara, as well as head coaching experience," said Pierce. "We are thrilled to have someone of Brianna's character, knowledge and passion become part of our basketball family and NU community. I have known Brianna for a number of years and she has always been someone I've admired for her hard work and passion for the game. Our student-athletes will benefit greatly from her wisdom in teaching life lessons through the game."

Prior to Portland, Chambers served as the head women's basketball coach at Dominican University of California from 2007-14. While at Dominican, she assisted in the school's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. Chambers placed a strong focus on academics as her teams maintained an overall grade point average of 3.2. She coached two Third Team PacWest All-Conference and honorable mention selections, one CalPac Freshman of the Year and three CalPac First Team honorees. She started and guided the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for three years and the committee was awarded the Pacific West Community Engagement Award for the 2009-10 season. Chambers began her college coaching career as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Cal State – Monterey Bay, where she worked from 2004-07. Chambers received her associate's degree in liberal arts from Bakersfield College in 1999, where she played basketball and ran track, and completed her bachelor's degree in communications in 2002 at Cal State – Bakersfield, where she played basketball for one season. She went on to pursue a master's in sport management, graduating with her degree from the University of San Francisco in 2009.

"I want to thank Coach Pierce, the administration and everyone at Niagara University for this wonderful opportunity," said Chambers. "I am really looking forward to working with this coaching staff under the Vincentian mission of the university. Things are going in the right direction, and I'm excited to help continue the success."

DeCriscio joins the Purple Eagles after serving as the graduate assistant/director of basketball operations at the University of Detroit Mercy for the past two seasons. Her responsibilities included coordinating travel plans and itineraries for trips, assisting with official and unofficial recruiting visits, assisting with the preparation of scouting reports, tracking specific statistics during games, supervising team managers and helping to run the team's social media pages. DeCriscio also served as the assistant director for all women's basketball summer camps and was the academic liaison for student-athletes and monitored study halls.

"Kayla brings great passion, energy and love for the game," Pierce said. "She comes highly recommended by head coach Bernard Scott, who she worked with at Detroit Mercy as the team's graduate assistant for the past two years. Kayla's experiences are directly related to what she will be doing for us as our director of operations. She is also a former student-athlete who will be very relatable to our players. We are beyond excited to welcome Kayla to our basketball family and the NU community."

DeCriscio played basketball at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, an NCAA Division II institution, and she ranks in the top 20 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) in career 3-point field goal percentage (39%). She graduated in 2016 with bachelor's degrees in secondary education and applied mathematics. She earned her master's degree in curriculum and instruction from Detroit Mercy in April 2018.

"I am truly grateful for this opportunity to work with Coach Pierce and her staff and to be a part of the Niagara University community," said DeCriscio. "I am eager to work alongside and learn from a staff that has such a great vision for the program."

Smith served as the director of women's basketball operations for the Purple Eagles during the 2017-18 season, where her responsibilities included coordinating travel and creating itineraries, coordinating practices, tracking statistics during games, overseeing student managers, uploading film and assisting with official and unofficial recruiting visits.

"We are appreciative of Jamie's hard work and dedication displayed this past season as our director of operations," said Pierce. "Jamie was an integral part of our success and she developed great relationships with our players, earning their respect, so this is a natural progression for her to be elevated into an assistant coaching position. Her successful experience playing point guard in college will aid in the development of our point guards, who she will be working with directly. Jamie is a winner and we are thrilled to promote her to the position of assistant coach!"

Prior to joining the staff at Niagara, Smith served as a graduate assistant coach at Alfred University, where she was a defensive coordinator and handled recruiting. Smith worked as a volunteer assistant coach at Daytona State Community College from 2015-16 and was a coaching intern at George Mason from 2013-15. Smith played college basketball at the Division I level from 2008-12, beginning her career at Saint Peter's before transferring to Morgan State after her freshman season. She was a three-year starter at point guard for Morgan State and served as a team captain. In 2011, she helped lead Morgan State to its first-ever postseason appearance; the team reached the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championships. Smith earned her bachelor's degree in broadcasting and integrated media from Morgan State in 2014.

"I am extremely blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love for a living," said Smith. "I want to stress my extreme gratitude to Coach Pierce for not only seeing my potential, but for allowing me the opportunity to grow. I am humbled to be a part of positive change and continued growth here at Niagara University and I have high hopes for our current and future Purple Eagles."

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