February 4, 2021 

Top teams begin to emerge in the Atlantic 10

Anna DeWolfe and Kendell Heremaia are unstoppable for Fordham

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Emmanuelle Tahane drives to the basket. Photo Credit: PhotoByFriday – Alan Hubbard

With only four weekends left before the conference tournament, Dayton, Richmond, Rhode Island, VCU and Fordham have all won at least 75 percent of their conference games so far. 

With all five teams trending in the right direction, the final few weeks will be important to determine seeding, though there is a lot of basketball that has yet to be played. 

In an exciting week of action, several players stood out, including Kendell Heremaia, Ciaja Harbison, Emmanuelle Tahane and Ali Brigham. 

Davidson

Davidson fell to 3-4 in A-10 play and 6-7 overall after a loss to Fordham, extending the team’s losing streak to four games. 

The Wildcats struggled offensively in their first game in 17 days, scoring 13 or fewer points in each of the first three quarters. 

Suzi-Rose Deegan and Chloe Welch were the only two players to score in double figures, putting up 15 and 11 points, respectively. The team has struggled to win with just two players in double figures and will need to continue to spread the ball around in order to get back to winning. 

The Wildcats are scheduled to travel to VCU and Richmond on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7 respectively. 

Dayton 

Dayton improved to 8-1 and 7-0 in conference play with a 68-51 win over St. Bonaventure.

Rebounds were key to the Flyers’ success, outrebounding St. Bonaventure 42-22. Eleven players grabbed a rebound and Araion Bradshaw led the team with 11.

Dayton’s success behind the arc was one of the difference makers, the team shot 41.2 percent from behind the arc. 

Against Saint Louis, the scoreboard was even after the second, third and fourth quarters, it was the team’s overtime defense that decided the game. The Flyers outscored the Billikens 9-2, allowing one bucket in the overtime period. 

“I am so proud of our team and the toughness we displayed for 45 minutes,” said head coach Shauna Green. “A complete team effort and a lot of people who made big plays throughout. Saint Louis is a really good team and it’s always very hard to get a win there.”

The Flyers are scheduled to travel to Saint Joseph’s and La Salle on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

Duquesne

Duquesne paused all team activities on Jan. 21 and is next scheduled to play St. Bonaventure on Feb. 7. 

Fordham

Fordham improved to 9-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play after a 73-55 win over Davidson.

“Super effort on the road. We have a tough road stretch, every team is tough, great kick-off victory. Some great individual performances by Anna [DeWolfe] and Kendell [Heremaia]. Makes it even better especially when you find out your flight is cancelled and you have to bus back into a snow storm,”  head coach Stephanie Gaitley said. 

Anna DeWolfe and Kendell Heremaia combined for 47 points. DeWolfe had 27 points, two assists and two steals while Heremaia had 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. 

DeWolfe and Heremaia combined for five of the team’s nine made threes, once again leading the charge from behind the arc. Fordham did not have its best three point shooting night percentage-wise, making 33.3 percent, the volume was enough to make a difference as Davidson made just five threes. 

Making threes and bountiful scoring from DeWolfe and Heremaia proved once again to be a recipe for success for Fordham. 

The Rams are scheduled to travel to Richmond and VCU on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

George Mason 

George Mason fell to 0-9 in A-10 play and 3-13 overall after two losses to Richmond and a loss to VCU. 

The Patriots scored more than fifty points in two straight games for the first time since Dec. 1 and Dec. 6 after scoring 56 points against VCU on Jan. 29 and 52 points against Richmond on Jan. 31. 

After the team’s game against VCU, head coach Nyla Milleson said the team was embarrassed on Jan. 26 in its game against Richmond, the team lost 86-48. 

The 64-56 overtime loss to VCU was the team’s first overtime game this season, and the Patriots were outscored 11-3. 

Milleson reflected on the performance saying, “When we got to overtime, I think fatigue smacked us in the face pretty hard but I think more than anything we had two freshmen two sophomores and a grad transfer on the floor, and they had four seniors and their freshman point guard.” 

Mason’s second matchup against Richmond was better, a 15 point loss, but the issues that have plagued the team throughout the season continued.

“Same story, same results. We struggled to score and today we could not get an adjustment made,” Milleson said in her opening statement. 

The Patriots are scheduled to travel to Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

George Washington 

George Washington fell to 4-12 overall and 1-9 in conference play after a pair of losses to VCU and a loss to Richmond. 

Ali Brigham totaled 26 points in the team’s first loss to VCU, going 12-15 from the floor. She also added four rebounds and one steal. Brigham was one of just two players to score in double figures, if the Colonials want to get back in the win column spreading the ball around will be necessary. 

Against Richmond, GW could not capitalize on the turnovers it forced, netting just 15 points off of the 25 Spider turnovers. The Colonials need to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes and its own successes, like the season-high 16 steals. 

For the third game in a row, on Feb. 1 GW jumped out to a lead at the end of the first quarter, but would ultimately fall short of the win. Single-digit second and fourth quarters slowed the Colonials, who kept pace with the Rams during the first and third quarters. Remaining consistent offensively will help GW get closer to its second conference win of the season. 

The Colonials are scheduled to travel to Massahusetts and Rhode Island on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively.

La Salle 

La Salle improved to 5-5 in conference play and 9-8 overall after losing to Rhode Island and defeating Massachusetts. 

The Explorers managed to score just four points off of the 11 turnovers they forced. Rhode Island outrebounded La Salle 36-29 and the Explorers managed just six offensive rebounds. 

The Explorers rebounded quickly, defeating Massachusetts for the first time since the 2016-2017 season. The team came out strong, leading 16-8 at the end of the first quarter, a lead they maintained for most of the game. 

La Salle limited its turnovers, committing just 11 while forcing 19. Strong starts and limiting turnovers will be key for the team to continue to win. 

The Explorers are scheduled to host Saint Louis and Dayton on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts fell to 6-4 in conference play and 10-5 overall after weekend losses to Saint Joseph’s and La Salle. 

Despite having four players in double figures against Saint Joseph’s, Massachusetts was hurt by its poor three point shooting, the team made just six of its 30 attempts. Four of the team’s five losses have been games in which the team made less than 33.3 percent of its threes. 

Against La Salle, the Minutewomen came out slowly, ending the first quarter down 16-8. 

Head coach Tory Verdi reflected on his team’s performance saying, “We were just tentative and didn’t play and we didn’t play to our strengths and we didn’t play off instincts either.” 

In order to put an end to the team’s three game losing streak the team will have to return to playing confidently and playing to its strengths. 

The Minutewomen are scheduled to host GW and Mason on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

Rhode Island 

Rhode Island improved to 7-2 in conference play at 7-5 overall after wins over La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. 

Emmanuelle Tahane led the team once again against La Salle, leading the team with 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. 

Head coach Tammi Reiss described Tahane as someone who “sets the example on how to be a college student-athlete.” 

She added, “When you work hard every day of your life and you do it the right way, you’re going to be successful.” 

Tahane has set the foundation for the Rams’ success averaging 16.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per season, and her success often means a win for her team. 

The Rams’ defense led the way against Saint Joseph’s allowing 10 or fewer points in three of the four quarters. 

Defense was also the key to the team’s win in overtime. 

“I am very proud of the kids for grinding an ugly basketball game out. And then I’m very proud of them for getting that stop we needed. It’s always really fulfilling to win a basketball game on a defensive stop when you need one. And we got one,” Reiss said. 

To continue its winning streak Rhode Island will need to continue playing defense at a high level. 

The Rams currently scheduled to host Mason and GW on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

Richmond

Richmond improved to 10-4 overall and 7-2 in conference play after a pair of wins over Mason and a win over GW. 

In the team’s first win over Mason, the Spiders scored a season-high 86 points, with Elaina Chapman leading the way with a career-high 18 points in 22 minutes.  

Head coach Aaron Roussell was impressed by Chapman saying, “Elaina set the tone early and she has been finishing really well at the basket. I think you can see the excitement from her teammates when she has games like this.”

Richmond used its three point attack to defeat Mason the second time, making 15 of its 31 attempts, including six in the first quarter to set the tone for the game. 

The Spiders’ defense led the team to victory against GW, with 13 steals, seven blocks and 21 turnovers. 

Winning in multiple ways will continue to help Richmond’s as the season continues. If the offense or defense has an off night the team knows the team can improve the other and remain in the game. 

The Spiders are currently scheduled to host Fordham and Davidson on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively.

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure fell to 1-8 in conference play and 2-10 overall after double-digit losses to Saint Louis and Dayton. 

Saint Louis’ defense dominated St. Bonaventure’s offense, blocking ten shots and outrebounding the Bonnies 48-31. St. Bonaventure struggled offensively, making just 28.6 percent of its shots. 

The Bonnies struggled from behind the arc against Dayton, making just three of their 17 attempts. The bright spot for the team was Deja Francis, who tied a season-high with 13 points and added three rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.   

St. Bonaventure will need to find a solution to its offensive woes in order to get its second conference win of the season. 

The Bonnies are scheduled to host Duquesne on Feb. 7. 

Saint Joseph’s

Saint Joseph’s improved to 3-2 in conference play and 5-2 overall after a win against Massachusetts and an overtime loss to Rhode Island. 

The Hawks balanced offensive attack led the team to victory over the Minutewomen. Four plays scored in double figures: Alexsis Santarelli (15 points), Alayna Gribble (15 points), Lovin Marsicano (12 points) and Katie Mayock (11 points). 

Against Rhode Island, Gabby Smalls was the only Hawk in double figures with 11 points. With so many players capable of scoring in large quantities, offensive consistency will be key for the team moving forward, especially with difficult matchups scheduled for next weekend.  

The Hawks are scheduled to host Dayton and Saint Louis on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively.

Saint Louis 

Saint Louis improved to 4-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play after a win against St. Bonaventure and an overtime loss to Dayton. 

The Billikens’ defense was the key to the team’s win over St. Bonaventure, with a season-high 10 blocks. The team allowed the Bonnies to make just 28.6 percent of their shots. 

After falling behind early, Saint Louis used a strong second quarter to even the score, but ran out of steam by the overtime period, scoring just two points in the final five minutes. 

Ciaja Harbison posted a team-best 19 points and added four assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two assists. 

While Saint Louis’ defense may be able to keep the team in the running, offense will be key in the final minutes of games, especially as the season continues. 

The Billikens are scheduled to travel to La Salle and Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, respectively. 

VCU

VCU improved to 7-2 in conference play and 9-7 overall after a pair of wins over GW and a win over Mason. 

The Rams successfully closed out close games in regulation against GW and in overtime against Mason, something the team failed to do in their previous games against Massachusetts and Richmond. 

In each game VCU had at least three players in double figures, a balanced scoring attack that has continued to work for the team throughout the season. To live up to preseason expectations the Rams will need to continue to spread the ball around and put their best effort in for the entire 40 minutes (or more) of every game. 

VCU is scheduled to host Davidson and Fordham on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, 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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