January 5, 2021 

Atlantic 10 starts 2021 with first wins, explosive performances, and more program pauses

Rounding up this week's A-10 news

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Rhode Island gathers in a team huddle against La Salle. Photo Credit: Ed LeFurge

Just hours after switching their calendars to 2021, ten Atlantic 10 teams began the year with games. Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s began the year on pause after reporting a positive case within the program in the final days of 2020.

Several players showed brightly in their first games of 2021 including Makira Cook, Megan McConnell, Jasmine Whitney, and Emmanuelle Tahane. 

Davidson

Davidson improved to 2-1 in A-10 play and 6-3 overall after wins over George Washington and George Mason.

The Wildcats’ three-point shooting proved to be the difference in both of their games last weekend. In two games decided by just four points, Davidson made a combined 17 threes when both of its opponents struggled to make threes. 

In both games, balanced scoring helped propel the Wildcats to victory, with three double-digit scorers in each. 

Davidson is scheduled to go up to New England for games at Massachusetts and Rhode Island on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively. 

Dayton 

Dayton improved to 2-0 in conference play and 3-1 overall with wins over St. Bonaventure and Duquesne to open 2021. 

Freshman Makira Cook had a breakout game against St. Bonaventure with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Cook went 6-for-9 from the floor and 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Her performance was especially important for a Dayton team that has played only a handful of games this season and is still trying to find its identity.

Head coach Shauna Green was impressed by her team’s defense Friday night. “I thought our defense was really, really good. We worked on that and have gotten a lot better in practice the last couple weeks because we know that’s what we’re going to hang our hat on, that’s what we’re about here … So really, really proud of our girls, of our defense, and our offense is going to come, and we need to get in a better flow,” she said. 

Though it was less than 48 hours later the Flyers’ offense was more balanced and led by Erin Whalen, one of the team’s cornerstones. This weekend marks the first time Dayton was able to play more than one game in a week. 

The Flyers are currently scheduled to travel to play Mason and GW on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10 respectively. 

Duquesne

Duquesne fell to 1-1 in conference play and 2-4 overall after a loss to Dayton Sunday afternoon. 

At the end of the first quarter, Duquesne’s senior leader Amanda Kalin went down with a non-contact injury and did not return. If Kalin is not able to return for a significant period of time Duquesne will need to find a way to replace both her productivity and her leadership. 

After his team shot just 25.5 percent from the floor, head coach Dan Burt said that in the next week his team will need to find a flow and rhythm, something the team has with freshman Megan McConnell on the floor. McConnell had 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals against the Flyers. 

When asked what the team would do to prepare for its game next Friday Burt said, “You can pretty much be assured that Meg McConnell is going to be a big part of that. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you what’s gonna happen. We have some kids that scrapped tonight, we had some kids that were disappointing.” 

He added, “We really don’t have flow, we don’t have the right combinations yet we’re still trying to find out what works and who works together.” 

Burt and his team have their work cut out for them over the next few days. 

The Dukes are scheduled to host VCU and Richmond on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10 respectively.  

Fordham

Fordham improved to 2-1 in conference play and 5-2 overall after wins over Mason and GW to start 2021. 

The Rams allowed Mason to score just 32 points, second-fewest in program history, and Anna DeWolfe and Kendell Heremaia outscored the Patriots by themselves, combining for 33 points.

It was Fordham’s three-point shooting that helped them in both the blowout win against Mason and the narrow win over GW. The team made 19 threes in the two games this weekend, something that has become part of the team’s identity. Fordham’s ability to stretch the floor and hit threes will continue to propel the team to victory. 

The Rams are scheduled to travel to Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10 respectively. 

George Mason 

Mason fell to 0-2 in A-10 play and 3-6 overall after losses to Fordham and Davidson to open 2021. 

Against Fordham, Mason scored just 32 points, the team’s fewest since they scored 13 vs. Catholic in 1974. In the shot clock era, the previous record was 33 against Maryland on Dec. 22, 2005. 

Senior Marika Korpinen was the only player to score in double figures over the weekend, scoring 10 against Fordham and a career-high 21 points against Davidson. Her success will continue to be critical to the Patriots, but the team will need to return to how they played earlier in the season, spreading the ball around. The team has proven to have many scorers throughout the season but was not able to get them going in the opening weekend of conference play. 

Mason will also need to start making shots from the tip, having scored in single digits in the opening quarter in four of its last five games. 

The Patriots are scheduled to host Dayton and Saint Louis on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively. 

George Washington 

GW fell to 3-5 overall and 0-2 in conference play after close losses to Davidson and Fordham over the weekend. 

After leading by eight with three minutes to go against Davidson, GW allowed a 12-0 Wildcat run to end the game. Once again poor three-point shooting hurt GW, as the team hit just three to Davidson’s nine. 

Jasmine Whitney put up a well-rounded performance against the Wildcats with 18 points, seven assists, six steals, and five rebounds.

GW and Fordham were tied with a minute to go, though the Rams went on a 9-3 run to defeat the Colonials. 

The Colonials are scheduled to host Saint Louis and Dayton on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively. 

La Salle 

After losses to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, La Salle fell to 0-2 in conference play and 3-5 overall. 

Against Rhode Island, La Salle had 10 players score, though just two in double figures, something head coach Mountain MacGillivray did not have a problem with. 

“I don’t really have an issue with the way the ball was spread around, I have an issue with the 19 turnovers,” he said. “So, we have to have the discipline to look for a shot when it’s there. And if it’s not there to not be in a hurry to go somewhere, particularly if that’s not your strength, and we had, I think, at least four travels, probably five on balls we probably should have shot. And so we have to be better at that.”

Against Massachusetts, La Salle had three players in double figures for the first time this season. Balanced scoring was not enough as the Minutewomen dominated the paint, outsourcing the Explorers 38-22, and La Salle’s turnover troubles continued — the team committed 18 of them.  

La Salle is scheduled to return to the court against local rival Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 10. 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts improved to 2-0 in conference play and 6-1 overall after a 78-61 win over La Salle on Sunday afternoon. The team’s win was its fifth straight and 600th all-time in program history. 

Sam Breen led the team with 25 points and 13 rebounds for her third consecutive double-double. Breen is second in the A-10 in scoring (20.4 points per game) and third in rebounding (9.0 rebounds per game). Her consistency has helped drive the Minutewomen to five straight wins and a top-two position in the conference. 

The Minutewomen are scheduled to host Rhode Island, Davidson, and Fordham this week on Jan. 5, Jan. 8, and Jan. 10, respectively. 

Rhode Island 

Rhode Island picked up its first win of the season against La Salle on Jan. 1. 

The Rams built a double-digit lead by halftime and held off a late surge by the Explorers to earn a three-point victory. 

Emmanuelle Tahane led Rhode Island in scoring with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and one steal. The transfer from Missouri has made her impact in the post from the team’s first game. Senior guard Marta Vargas had a season-high 13 points, as well as two rebounds and three assists. 

As a team, Rhode Island needs to improve its free-throw shooting as it is currently last in the conference, making just 56.5 percent of its attempts. Against La Salle, the Rams made just 5 of its 15 attempts. When the opportunity presents itself to score without taking time off the clock the team will need to take it. 

Rhode Island is currently scheduled to play three A-10 games this week: against Massachusetts on Jan. 5, Fordham on Jan. 8, and Davidson on Jan. 10. 

Richmond

Richmond began 2021 with a scheduled week without games. The Spiders are scheduled to begin their 2021 slate with trips to St. Bonaventure and Duquesne on Jan. 8 and 10. 

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure fell to 0-2 in conference play and 1-4 overall after a 56-47 loss to Dayton on Jan. 1. The Bonnies struggled on the offensive end, making 29.1% from the floor and 18.8 percent from behind the arc. This scoring difficulty included an eight-minute scoring drought that covered the end of the first quarter and most of the second. 

Only Asianae Johnson scored in double figures, leading St. Bonaventure with 14 points. If the team is going to find its first conference win of the year, the team will need to both shoot the ball better and develop more double-digit scorers. 

The Bonnies are scheduled to host Richmond and VCU on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively. 

Saint Joseph’s

On Dec. 30 Saint Joseph’s announced that the women’s basketball team had paused all team activities due to a positive COVID-19 test result within the program’s “Tier 1” personnel. This is the team’s second pause of the program due to a positive test and third overall this season. 

The Hawks are currently scheduled to take the court on Jan. 10 against La Salle. 

Saint Louis 

On Dec. 30, Saint Louis announced that the team had paused all team activities after someone within the program tested positive for COVID-19. This is the third time the team has paused team activities since November.

The Billikens are currently scheduled to resume play on Jan. 8 against GW. Saint Louis will only resume program activities after all personnel are cleared via the university’s campus COVID-19 testing procedures and protocols.

VCU

VCU began 2021 with a scheduled week without games. The Rams are scheduled to travel to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure to begin the 2021 chunk of their season on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10. 

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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