Denise Bierly enters her 24th season as head women's basketball coach as the department's current senior coach as it relates to years and games coached and wins, and as the winningest active women's basketball coach (second among men's and women's coaches) in the Little East Conference.
In 23 seasons, Bierly has coached 640 games and won 436 times (19.0 wins per game) with a winning percentage of 68.1. In 2015-16, she won her 400th game with a 56-45 decision over SUNY Poly at the Arizona Shootout Dec. 29 and coached her 600th game Jan. 27 against Keene State College at Geissler Gymnasium.
Among active New England Division III head coaches, the 2014-15 New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) Coach-of-the-Year ranks ninth in winning percentage (49th nationally) and ninth in victories (28th).
In 23 years of conference play, Bierly has won 69.9 percent of 316 regular-season games, recording her 200th LEC regular-season triumph in 2015-16. She is 252-113 (69.0) overall in 365 LEC regular-season and tournament contests.
In 2016/17, Eastern won its sixth LEC regular-season title (third straight) and earned a third straight berth in the LEC tournament under Bierly, who had led the Warriors to a second straight LEC tournament crown the year prior. After winning the 2014-15 title, Eastern advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 by beating No. 12 University of Scranton on the Royals' home court and ending Baruch College's 21-game winning streak in the regional final. After losing five of its first 11 games, Eastern captured 16 of 19 en route to the Sweet 16.
With her second win of the 2009/10 season, Bierly became the fourth head coach (only current one) in Eastern intercollegiate history to record as many as 300 wins, and on the final day of the regular season in 2010/11, became the winningest head women's basketball coach in program history. In the second round of the 2012/13 Eastern Tip-Off Tournament, Bierly coached her 500th game at Eastern.
In 23 seasons as a head coach – all of them at Eastern -- Bierly has led the Warriors to 12 post-season tournament berths, a No. 1 national ranking, and a spot in a national championship game.
At left: Head coach Denise Bierly with 2016/17 seniors (from left) Jordyn Nappi, Lexis Foster and Julia DePoi.
Eleven times in the last 17 years under Bierly, the Warriors have won at least 20 games. In 2008/09, the team won 25 games – the fourth time in eight years that the team had posted at least 25 victories.That team was also ranked as high as 17th nationally, and captured a season-record 16 consecutive wins. The team's 23 regular-season triumphs prior to conference tournament play were the most in program history, and he team's 13-1 conference record also provided it with its first outright conference regular-season title (it has shared three regular-season championships) since the 1990/91 season.
In the first four years of the decade under Bierly, Eastern won at least 80 percent of its games each season– a feat never before accomplished in the history of the program.
In 2004/05, Bierly recorded her 200th coaching win. Incredibly, it took her just four years (120 games) – to win games 101 through 200.
Since winning ten of 26 games in her first season (after inheriting a 3-22 club), the Lafayette, Ohio native has led Eastern to at least 17 victories 18 times, with a program-record 28 wins coming during the run to the 2003 national title game. Bierly was named Little East Conference Coach-of-the-Year in her second season in 1995/96. Coming off a 4-8 conference record and fourth-place finish in Bierly’s first season, the Warriors won ten of 12 LEC games that year, good enough for a second-place finish in the regular-season standings. They went on to win the conference tournament title later that year.
Three times in all, Bierly has been selected Little East Conference Coach-of-the-Year. In 2008-09, she shared the honor after the Warriors equalled their most regular-season conference wins ever. In 2000/01, she was voted LEC Coach-of-the-Year outright when the Warriors shared first place in the regular season.
In Bierly’s tenure, Eastern has featured four E-Club Hall of Famers in Allison Coleman (2013), Jennifer Zabek (2015), Darcy Mund (2016) and Ashley McFetridge (2017) seven All-Americas, one CoSIDA Academic All-America, one national Player-of-the-Year, two CoSIDA Academic All-District selections, six New England players of the year, one New England Rookie-of-the-Year, 15 All-New England and eight All-District performers, 19 NEWBA Senior Classic picks, seven conference players of the year, five conference rookies of the year, and 47 all-conference selections. Fifty-eight have earned an Eastern/E-Club Scholar-Athlete Award, and 45 have qualified for spots on the all-conference academic honor roll in the ten years in which the honor has been awarded. Thirteen have been awarded the Holly E. Zimmerman Memorial Award (which recognizes devotion to the team and to athletics), four have received the Bonnie J. Edmondson Senior Female SportsPerson-of-the-Year, seven have been selected Eastern’s Female Athlete-of-the-Year, and four have been named Eastern’s Female Rookie-of-the-Year. Additionally, 11 players have attained the 1,000-career point mark.
In September of 2003, Bierly was honored as the New England Collegiate Coach-of-the-Year by the New England College Basketball Hall of Fame at its annual induction dinner and awards banquet. She is also a member of the Defiance (OH) College Alumni Varsity D and Allen East High School Halls of Fame and in the spring of 2017, was inducted into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Her induction into her high school Hall of Fame came during charter induction ceremonies. In four years in high school, Bierly set program records for points in a career (1,395), season (475) and game (44)
Bierly holds a B.S. Degree in Sports Management from Defiance College and an M.S. Degree in Education from Bowling Green (OH) State University.
|EASTERN WOMEN'S BASKETBALL UNDER HEAD COACH DENISE BIERLY|
+-NCAA Division III tournament (national finalist in 2002/03)
#-ECAC Division III New England tournament