December 15, 2020 

Atlantic 10 notebook: Stars shine, programs pause

COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on the A-10

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Ali Brigham of GW defends against a JMU player. Photo courtesy of GW Athletics.

As the number of games continues to add up, so does the number of teams impacted by COVID-19.

This week Dayton, Richmond and Saint Louis announced they had paused all team activities. 

When scheduled games were still able to be played, several players still stood out, including Chloe Welch, Emmanuelle Tahane and Sam Breen. Let’s take a team-by-team look at the conference:

Davidson

Davidson earned its first two wins of the season last week against Charleston Southern and Appalachian State, improving to 2-3. 

Against Charleston Southern, all nine active Davidson players recorded at least one point, rebound and assist. The Wildcats were less balanced against Appalachian State, but were led by Chloe Welch who scored a career-high 32 points, 18 of which came in the fourth quarter. Welch went 13-17 from the floor and an impressive 4-6 from behind the arc. 

Davidson will need to continue its consistency and team effort in order to continue winning games and put its early losing streak behind them. 

The Wildcats travel to Charlotte on Dec. 15 before returning home to host East Tennessee State on Dec. 18 to wrap up their currently scheduled nonconference season. 

Dayton 

Dayton announced on Dec. 7 the team’s Dec. 10 game against Charlotte was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns within the Flyers’ program. The team’s Dec. 13 game against Alabama A&M was also canceled. 

The team is currently scheduled to host Indiana State on Dec. 20. 

Duquesne

The Dukes opened conference play with a 71-63 win over St. Bonaventure, fueled by a 25-point fourth-quarter push. After trailing 51-46 early in the fourth quarter, Duquesne went on an 18-2 run. 

Duquesne had six players score at least nine points, led by Kiersten Elliott (15 points), who averaged just 2.5 points last season.

Precious Johnson, who is tied for second in the A-10 in blocks, had five blocks against the Bonnies. Laia Solé is third in the conference in rebounding, averaging 9.3 rebounds per game, close to twice as many as she averaged last year. 

Johnson, Elliott and Sole have taken steps forward in the team’s first three games, something that will continue to benefit the Dukes as the season goes on. 

Fordham

On Dec. 8 Fordham announced the team’s scheduled home opener against Fairleigh Dickinson that evening would be canceled after the Rams head coach Stephanie Gaitley came into contact with someone outside of the program who tested positive for COVID-19. 

Gaitley will quarantine for 14 days according to protocols set forward by the state of New York and the university. 

Fordham was scheduled to play Seton Hall on Dec. 13. However, according to the Fordham Athletics’ website “the Rams have cancelled Sunday’s contest at Seton Hall out of caution of possible exposure for all involved.” This was noted to be related to Gaitley’s exposure to someone who tested positive earlier in the week. 

The Rams next game is scheduled for Dec. 18 against Hofstra. 

George Mason 

On Dec. 10 the Patriots announced the team’s Dec. 13 game against Georgetown was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Hoyas’ program. 

On. Dec. 11 the Patriots announced the team added a home game against William and Mary scheduled for Dec. 16. 

George Washington

GW went 0-2 last week, losing by 10 to both James Madison and Howard. In both games the Colonials struggled from behind the arc, going a combined 5-for-31 over the two games. Over the course of the season the Colonials are making just 16.1 percent of their threes, and just 2.3 threes per game, last in both categories in the league. 

The Colonials will need to improve their three point shooting in order to return to winning games. 

Ali Brigham has provided a bright spot for the team, averaging 12 points in 22 minutes per game as a freshman. 

La Salle 

La Salle went 0-2 last week, losing to Villanova and a close defeat against Howard. After struggling to make threes against the Wildcats, the Explorers knocked down 10 threes against the Bison. 

Claire Jacobs led the way for La Salle in both games, combining for 31 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in both games last week.  

Moving forward the Explorers will have to clean up their play, averaging 20.5 turnovers per game last week and 16.4 turnovers per game on the season.

UMass

UMass went 3-0 last week, defeating Rhode Island, New Hampshire and St. John’s to improve to 5-1 on the season. 

Against Rhode Island, Destiney Philoxy, Sydney Taylor and Ber’Nyah Mayo all scored at least 18 points and shot at least 50 percent from the floor. The Minutewomen led for all 40 minutes of their first A-10 game of the season. 

Taylor and Sam Breen led the way with 17 points each against UNH. The team also outrebounded the Wildcats 48-24 and did not trail in the game. 

Breen, Taylor and Philoxy all scored in double figures against St. John’s, leading the team to a fourth straight victory. 

UMass has a core group of scorers, something that benefited them last week and will continue to throughout the season. 

The Minutewomen are next scheduled to play Jan. 1 against Saint Joseph’s.

Rhode Island 

Rhode Island fell to 0-4 this week after losing to A-10 opponent UMass and Maine. In both matchups the Rams struggled to find a rhythm offensively, scoring a season-low 47 points against Maine. 

Against UMass, Rhode Island had two players score more than 20 points, Johanna Muzet and Emmanuelle Tahane, though just four other Rams scored. Against Maine, just Tahane scored in double figures. 

In order to get its first win of the season Rhode Island will need to find a rhythm on the offensive end and work to develop additional scorers to pair with Tahane, the only Ram to score in double figures every game this season. 

The Rams are currently scheduled to return to action on Jan. 1 against La Salle. 

Richmond

On Dec. 11 Richmond announced the team would pause all activities “due to COVID testing results.” The Spiders announced that they would not play their next two games against St. Francis (Dec. 13) and at Norfolk State (Dec. 17). 

St. Bonaventure

On Dec. 11, St. Bonaventure opened its season with a 71-63 loss to Duquesne. After leading for most of the game, the Bonnies gave up a 15-0 run early in the fourth quarter which proved to be the difference. 

Tori Harris, a transfer from James Madison, had 16 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal in her St. Bonaventure debut. 

St. Bonaventure entered this season with a goal to improve its rebounding, having only had the rebounding advantage five times last season

On Dec. 12, Marshall announced it paused all team-related activities and that its game against St. Bonaventure would be canceled. The Bonnies are scheduled to play their second game on Dec. 16 against Binghamton. 

Saint Joseph’s

Saint Joseph’s opened its season with a 72-64 win over Lincoln (PA). The Hawks were able to keep their scoring balanced with five players in double figures, Alexis Santarelli, Katie Jekot, Alayna Gribble, Gabby Smalls and Kaliah Henderson. 

Santarelli, a graduate transfer from Lafayette College, led the way in her first game as a Hawk with 15 points, as well as, six rebounds, two steals and four blocks in 23 minutes. 

While Saint Joseph’s is just getting its season started the team will have to clean up its offense which turned the ball over 18 times against Lincoln. Taking care of the the ball will be critical to winning games as the season goes on. 

The Hawks are scheduled to take on Monmouth on Dec. 15 before opening conference play against Dec. 19 against La Salle. 

Saint Louis 

On Dec. 8, Saint Louis announced the program paused all team activities after someone within the program tested positive for COVID-19. 

The team also announced that four games would not be played as scheduled: Dec. 9 (Tulsa), Dec. 11 (Southern Illinois), Dec. 17 (Indiana State) and Dec. 20 (Illinois State).

VCU

Despite leading by four with 3:46 left in the game, VCU went on to lose 58-55 to East Carolina after surrendering a 9-2 run to end the game. 

VCU, which has hung its hat on defense in the past, allowed ECU to grab 15 offensive rebounds, losing the total rebounding battle 35-32. 

The Rams will need to clean up their offense prior to conference play if they look to live up to their preseason predicted position atop the A-10. VCU is currently fifth in the conference in turnovers, averaging 16.5 per game. 

VCU is scheduled to play Vanderbilt on Dec. 17 before beginning conference play on Dec. 20 against Richmond. 

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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