January 26, 2021
Atlantic 10 gets back on track
A schedule half-empty? Or half-full?
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Sixteen Atlantic 10 games were scheduled to be played this week. Due to the number of programs on pause, only eight games happened as planned.
Rhode Island was able to resume program activities on Jan. 20 after it was determined that the multiple positive COVID-19 tests were false positives.
Richmond, VCU and Saint Joseph’s also resumed basketball activities and were able to play last week.
Eleven teams were able to take to the court last week and several players impressed including Sam Breen, Catherine Cairns, Brooke Flowers and Alayna Gribble.
Davidson’s games against Duquesne and St. Bonaventure were postponed due to the Wildcats’ program pausing all activities on Jan. 15.
The Wildcats are scheduled to return to the court on Jan. 31 against Fordham.
Dayton remains on pause after a positive test within the program. The Flyers are scheduled to return to the court on Jan. 31 against St. Bonaventure.
Duquesne paused all team activities on Jan. 21 and is next scheduled to play Saint Louis on Jan. 31.
Fordham improved to 8-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play after a win over St. Bonaventure.
The Rams hit 13 threes for the second game in a row, led by Anna DeWolfe who went 5-14 from behind the arc.
The was successful on the offensive end, but head coach Stephanie Gaitley was more focused on the other end of the court after the game.
“The kids did a great job defensively and we shared the ball really well. St. Bonaventure is always a tough match-up for us. It is always important to protect our home court and we took care of business,” she said.
Fordham allowed the Bonnies to make just two threes and grab just 20 rebounds, including limiting St. Bonaventure to five offensive rebounds and four second-chance points.
The Rams are scheduled to travel to Davidson on Jan. 31.
George Mason fell to 0-6 in A-10 play and 3-10 overall after a loss to La Salle.
The Patriots led 49-38, but failed to score in the last 6:51, giving up an 18-0 run to lose, 56-49. Mason is no stranger to long scoring droughts, but the team was usually able to find its rhythm by the fourth quarter.
The team’s seven fourth-quarter points hindered the team from getting its first win in conference play.
Despite this, Teodora Popovic shined in her second game, and first start. She had 11 points, two rebounds and three assists. Popovic was the only Patriot in double figures, which demonstrates she has the potential to be a real difference-maker for Mason.
The Patriots are scheduled to travel to Richmond on Jan. 26 and host VCU and Richmond on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
George Washington fell to 4-9 overall and 1-6 in conference play after losses to La Salle and Saint Joseph’s.
GW struggled to get to the free-throw line against La Salle, attempting a season-low six free throws. The team also hindered themselves by committing 20 turnovers, reducing the number of shots it could take.
Against Saint Joseph’s GW started strong with a 22-8 lead, led by turning six Hawks turnovers into 11 points. The Colonials were not able to keep up with Saint Joseph’s three-point shooting. The Hawks made 12 threes to just five for the Colonials. In a conference with many explosive three-point shooters it will be key for GW to increase the number of threes it can make, or find another way to compensate on the offensive end.
The Colonials are scheduled to travel to VCU on Jan. 27 and host Richmond and VCU on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, respectively.
La Salle improved to 4-4 in conference play and 8-7 overall after wins over GW and Mason.
Kayla Spruill, Claire Jacobs and Molly Masciantonio excelled behind the arc, each making three three-pointers. As a team, the Explorers made 11 threes, the sixth time the team made double-digit threes this season (the seventh time would come against Mason). Success behind the arc has been key to La Salle’s success this season.
After Mason built an 11-point lead, its largest of the game, La Salle finished the game on an 18-0 run to secure a victory, its third in a row. The team is over .500 after 15 games for the first time since the 2016-2017 season.
The Explorers proved they could make a comeback and play shutdown defense, as the seven fourth-quarter points allowed are the fewest the team has allowed in a fourth-quarter this season. Being able to mount a comeback and closeout games will be important in the final weeks of conference play.
La Salle is scheduled to travel to Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
Massachusetts improved to 6-2 in conference play and 10-3 overall after splitting the weekend series with Saint Louis.
In both matchups the Minutewomen struggled at the free throw line, shooting below 65 percent from the charity stripe. The team will have to shoot better when given the opportunity for free points.
In Friday night’s win four players scored in double figures, but in Sunday afternoon’s loss just Sydney Taylor was able score more than 10 points, scoring 17.
The Minutewomen are scheduled to travel to St. Joseph’s and La Salle on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
Rhode Island improved to 5-2 in conference play at 5-5 overall after a 76-60 win over St. Bonaventure.
Freshman Catherine Cairns led the Rams with a season-high 22 points off the bench, and added two rebounds and two assists. Cairns went 6-of-9 from behind the arc, after making no more than two threes in any other game this season. The Rams have lacked a primary three-point scorer, though Cairns has made her case for why she can be one for Rhode Island.
Cairns has been a key part to the Rams’ balanced scoring this season, but had yet to be the primary scorer. She has now proven herself capable of being one, as well as continued to prove herself as a scoring spark off the bench.
The Rams currently scheduled to host La Salle and Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
Richmond improved to 7-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play after a 69-64 win over VCU, the team’s first win at VCU since 2018.
Head coach Aaron Roussell said, “I am really proud of our effort. A huge difference for us was the ability to score in the offensive end. VCU is a very good team and to win a rivalry game like this is great for our team. I am thrilled that we are able to enjoy this one.”
The Spiders shot a season-high 54.0 percent from the floor, led by freshmen Addie Budnik (14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four blocks) and Grace Townsend (14 points, three rebounds and two assists). The success so early in their careers are a good sign for the program this season and moving forward.
The Spiders are currently scheduled to host Mason on Jan. 26 and travel to GW and Mason on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
St. Bonaventure fell to 1-6 in conference play and 2-8 overall after double-digit losses to Fordham and Rhode Island.
The Bonnies entered the season looking to improve on rebounding, something that the team continued to struggle with last weekend. St. Bonaventure was outrebounded 36-20 by Fordham and 37-24 by Rhode Island. Both sides of the ball will improve if the team is able to get a few more rebounds per game.
I’yanna Lops had a career-high 14 points against Rhode Island, and added five rebounds, one steal and two blocks. Lops was a perfect 5-5 from the floor and 4-4 from the free-throw line. She scored in double figures two previous times this season, and has provided a spark and another scoring threat for the Bonnies, something the team will continue to need as the season progresses.
The Bonnies are scheduled to host Saint Louis and Dayton on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
Saint Joseph’s improved to 2-1 in conference play and 4-1 overall after a win over GW.
In just her third game this season, and first since Dec. 15, Alayna Gribble led the team with 17 points and also added two rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. Katie Jekot added 14 points, three assists and one steal.
After the game head coach Cindy Griffin commented on the offensive combination of Gribble and Jekot saying, “It gives us spacing on the floor and gives us confidence that the offense is working. Any point guard is always better with somebody that complements them. They really complement each other, and it’s nice to see that they’re working well together and that their experience is shining through.”
Having Gribble back could prove to be the spark the Hawks need to make a run in the second half of conference play.
The Hawks are scheduled to travel to Massachusetts and Rhode Island on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
Saint Louis improved to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in conference play after splitting a weekend series against Massachusetts.
Friday’s matchup against Massachusetts was head coach Lisa Stone’s 1,000th game as head coach. The Billikens struggled on the offensive end, shooting 26.1 percent from behind the arc and 32.8 percent from the floor.
The team’s offensive output was better, shooting 35.3 percent from behind the arc and 38.9 percent from behind the arc. It was Brooke Flowers’ 21 rebounds, which tied a program record, that fueled the team’s defense against the Minutewomen. Strong offense and rebounding are proving to be a recipe for success for Saint Louis.
The Billikens are scheduled to travel to St. Bonaventure and Duquesne on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, respectively.
VCU fell to 4-2 in conference play and 6-7 overall after a 69-64 loss to Richmond on Jan. 24.
Taya Robinson’s team-high 16 points was enough to get her to 1,000 in her career, but it was not enough to stop Richmond’s second-half comeback.
While the Rams’ defense held strong in the first half, allowing just 30 points, the Spiders opened the second half with a 13-2 run to take the lead.
VCU has struggled to close out close games this season, something that will need to change if the team lives up to its predicted first-place finish in the A-10. The team will need to continue the lockdown defense it is best known for in order to make this a reality.
The Rams are scheduled to host GW on Jan. 27 and travel to Mason and GW on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, respectively.
Written by Natalie Heavren
Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.
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