February 11, 2021 

‘Any game is really a gift this year’

The Atlantic 10 plays on as several teams are on pause

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St. Bonaventure gathers ahead of a timeout. Photo Credit: St. Bonaventure Athletics.

With only three weeks before the conference tournament, the Atlantic 10 is once again dealing with a series of postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Feb. 4, George Washington, Richmond and VCU announced their weekend games would be postponed.  

On Feb. 5, Duquesne announced due to COVID-19 concerns its game against St. Bonaventure would be postponed.

On Feb. 7, Massachusetts Athletics announced that for at least the next 14 days all athletic activities will be on pause due to a surge of COVID-19 cases at the university. According to the press release the new designation “will only be lifted when public health conditions improve substantially.” 

In light of this, Saint Joseph’s head coach Cindy Griffin said, “Any game is really a gift this year because of so many unknowns … As far as the league, it’s going to take a little bit of a little bit more diligence and a little bit more luck if we can stay out of being paused again, for all of us. And so you’re just holding on really a little bit and take it day-to-day.”

Of the remaining nine teams that stepped on the court last week, several players stood out including Chloe Welch, Catherine Cairns, Ciaja Harbison and Tenin Magassa. 

Davidson

Davidson fell to 3-6 in A-10 play and 6-9 overall after a pair of losses to St. Bonaventure, extending the team’s losing streak to six games. 

The Wildcats shot below 21 percent from behind the arc in both matchups and are 0-7 when making 30 percent or fewer threes. Davidson will need to be more accurate from beyond the arc in order to snap its losing streak. 

Chloe Welch was a bright spot for the Wildcats, scoring 23 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block on Monday. On the season she is averaging 16.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. 

The Wildcats are scheduled to host La Salle and Saint. Joseph’s Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

Dayton 

Dayton improved to 10-1 and 9-0 in conference play with a 68-51 wins over Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

Last week the Flyers won with defense and offense, scoring just 55 points against the Hawks and 95 against La Salle. 

After Friday’s game against the Hawks head coach Shauna Green said, “It was a physical, tough game and I’m happy with how we responded defensively in the second half. We talk all the time about finding a way to win even when our shots aren’t falling. Our defense came through and that is what we hang our hat on. I am proud of our team.”

Tenin Magassa led Dayton with a career-high 20 points on 9-11 shooting and added six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks.  Jenna Giacone, Makira Cook and Erin Whalen also added double-digit points. 

Dayton had 10 players score against La Salle, with each player playing at least 13 minutes. This depth has helped the Flyers remain energetic on short turnarounds and be able to outlast their opponents in games. If this continues, the team is poised to repeat as regular-season conference champions. 

The Flyers are scheduled to host Richmond and VCU on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

Duquesne

Duquesne paused all team activities on Jan. 21 and is next scheduled to play George Mason on Feb. 12.

Fordham

Fordham improved to 10-3 overall and 7-2 in conference play after a 56-53 win over Rhode Island.

The Rams used a second-half surge to defeat Rhode Island for head coach Stephanie Gaitley’s 200th win at the school. 

“We showed so much toughness and resilience against a very good Rhode Island team,” Gaitley said. 

Fordham sent Rhode Island to the line just twice, while taking 10 free throws themselves. The Rams have struggled to get to the free throw line in conference play, but keeping its opponents off the line has helped them win games. 

The Rams are scheduled to host Saint Joseph’s and La Salle on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

George Mason 

George Mason fell to 0-10 in A-10 play and 3-14 overall after a 63-27 loss to Rhode Island.

The 27 points scored is the program’s fewest since joining the NCAA in 1982. The only time the program scored fewer points (13) was in its first-ever game in 1973. 

Vita Stam led Mason with 13 points and was the only player to score more than six points. 

Mason struggled to score against Rhode Island, two points in the second quarter and nine total points in the first half. Head coach Nyla Milleson has changed lineups, increased practice time and made numerous other adjustments and nothing has worked. The team will need to score more points or risk going winless in A-10 play. 

The Patriots are scheduled to return home and host St. Bonaventure and Duquesne on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

George Washington 

GW paused all activities on Feb. 4 after a positive COVID-19 test from a Tier 1 member of the travel party. 

The Colonials are scheduled to host Duquesne and St. Bonaventure on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

La Salle 

La Salle fell to 5-7 in conference play and 9-10 overall after losses to Saint Louis and Dayton. 

The Explorers struggled in the paint in both games and while the team usually finds its success from behind the arc, three-pointers were not enough to push the team ahead. 

Dayton outscored La Salle 50-24 in the paint Sunday afternoon. The Explorers have had some success playing without a traditional center, though Dayton and Saint Louis proved that three-point shooting will not be enough for La Salle to pull out a victory. 

The Explorers are scheduled to travel to Davidson and Fordham on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts canceled its Feb. 7 against Mason and its games against Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne. 

The Minutewomen are next scheduled to take on VCU and Richmond on Feb. 26 and Feb. 28 respectively. 

Rhode Island 

Rhode Island ended the week to 8-3 in conference play at 8-6 overall after beating Mason and losing to Fordham. 

The Rams dominated every facet of the game against Mason, allowing just nine first-half points and knocking down 12 three-pointers. 

Catherine Cairns made six of the team’s threes, totaling 18 points, three rebounds and one steal.

After the game head coach Tammi Reiss said, “We harp on the same things every day as part of our process and we’re trying to teach these kids, my staff and I, about habits, champion habits, every day, no matter who you play. So for us, I think it’s just really embracing that every day and our preparation doesn’t change.” 

Rhode Island’s six-game win streak was snapped on Sunday with a 56-53 loss to Fordham. The Rams had a chance to win it but a deep three from Marta Vargas fell short. 

The Rams are currently scheduled to travel to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure on Feb. 18 and Feb. 20 respectively after their Feb. 14 game against Massachusetts was canceled. 

Richmond

Richmond announced its games against Fordham and Davidson would be postponed on Feb. 4 after results from COVID-19 contract tracing and testing. 

The Spiders are currently scheduled to travel to Dayton and Saint Louis on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14  respectively.

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure improved to 3-8 in conference play and 4-10 overall after a pair of wins over Davidson. 

The Bonnies have struggled to rebound in recent weeks. The struggles continued on Sunday afternoon, losing the rebounding battle 41-29, but St. Bonaventure was able to create 25 points off of 21 turnovers.  

Monday afternoon was a different story, St. Bonaventure outrebounded Davidson, 34-29. The team also five players score in double figures for its second win in as many days.

Asianae Johnson led the team with 20 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. I’yanna Lops (13), Tori Harris (12), Deja Francis (11) and Jurnee President (11) also scored in double figures. 

It will be key for the Bonnies to continue rebounding, converting turnovers into points and balanced scoring to continue its winning streak. 

The Bonnies are scheduled to travel to Mason and GW on Feb. 12 and 14 respectively. 

Saint Joseph’s

Saint Joseph’s fell to 3-5 in conference play and 5-5 overall after a loss to Dayton and a pair of losses to Saint Louis. 

Against Dayton, the Hawks struggled from behind the arc, going just 3-19. 

Saint Joseph’s controlled most of Sunday’s game against Saint Louis but struggled to score in the final quarter. “I thought we just went really really cold there and we couldn’t score and we kind of gave it away,” Griffin said. 

Monday’s game against Saint Louis was a different story, Saint Joseph’s struggled to defend against the Billikens’ high-powered offense, allowing 10 three-pointers. 

Saint Joseph’s will need to find more consistency before it is able to get back into the win column.

The Hawks are scheduled to travel to Fordham and Davidson on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14. 

Saint Louis 

Saint Louis improved to7-3 overall and 5-3 in conference play after a win over La Salle and a pair of wins over Saint Joseph’s. 

Ciaja Harbison was a critical part of the Billikens trio of wins last week. She averaged 23.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Her career-high 30 points on Feb. 8 was the most points by a Saint Louis player since Maddison Gitts on Jan. 31, 2018.

Her consistency will continue to be key as Saint Louis looks to finish the end of the regular season strong. 

The Billikens are scheduled to host VCU and Richmond on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

VCU

VCU  announced it was pausing all team activities on Feb. 4 due to COVID-10 protocols within the program. 

VCU is scheduled to travel to Saint Louis and Dayton on Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 respectively. 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been covering women’s basketball since February 2019 and currently covers both the Atlantic 10 and the WNBA.

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