October 31, 2022 

2022-23 Atlantic 10 preview

New coaches, new players and a new member school

The Atlantic 10 welcomes a new program this season in Loyola Chicago, which joined the conference on July 1. 

Rhode Island head coach Tammi Reiss expects this season to be competitive. At media day on Oct. 18 she said it was difficult to pick the rank of the teams in the preseason poll.

“It’s going to be competitive and the unknown makes it even more exciting for me,” she said. “So I’m looking forward to a very, very competitive season, a great season. And again, the addition of a lot of great coaches. I think we’re going to have a really, really spectacular season this year.” 

Here’s the breakdown of what each team is going to look like this season:


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Elle Sutphin celebrates with her team on the sideline.
Elle Sutphin celebrates with her team on the sideline. (Photo credit: Jeff Sochko | DavidsonPhotos.com.)

Davidson

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 9th

The Wildcats finished last season 18-15 (6-10 in the A-10) and participated in the Women’s Basketball Invitational. The team lost to Nevada and defeated Northeastern and Austin Peay in its first trip to the postseason since the 2018-19 season.

“We were able to play some of our younger players quite a bit and they had grown a lot throughout the season and just didn’t get a chance to show that off as much in conference play with just the nature of how conferences kind of are at that time of year,” head coach Gayle Fulks told The Next. “But a lot of them were able to play and play great minutes and give us a lot of great production that I think really is being used as a trampoline into this year.” 

The program’s 18 wins were the most since the 2012-13 season and the most under Fulks. Last season, Davidson had the fourth-best field goal percentage in the conference (41.9%). Davidson returns Elle Sutphin, who was third in the A-10 in field-goal shooting (53.2%). 

Key returners (last season’s stats):

G Suzi-Rose Deegan, 5’10: 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game (16 games)

G Chloe Welch, 5’9: 10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists

F Elle Sutphin, 6’3: 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 blocks

G Issy Morgan, 5’10: 8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals

Key losses (last season’s stats):

G Cassidy Gould, 5’10: 7.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists

Newcomers:

G Maddie Plank, 5’11: Averaged 2.2 points last season at Princeton. Biked across the United States over the course of nine weeks in 2021.

F Millie Prior, 6’2: Averaged 1.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.7 minutes and shot 38.2% from the floor last season at Fordham. Shot 42.3% during the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup. Fulks told The Next that Prior is injured and “won’t be playing this year.”

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 12 vs. Duke 

Nov. 16 @ Maryland 

Dec. 15 @ N.C. State

Head coach: Gayle Fulks, 6th season

Coach’s perspective:

“I think we have a lot of experienced talent. And so I think just our ability to continue to be really good at what we do using everybody, in years past we’ve had some talent but maybe they didn’t have the experience. And so, with the way that we play, it just it took a little bit of time to figure things out but hoping to be a little bit more solid early on.”

On what excites her about this season: “I mean, just the number of people that we have back that have experience. With us only having one newcomer we’re a lot further ahead than we’ve been and we have a lot of players that have gotten better and I think that you’re going to see this being the deepest team that we’ve had. And that’s really exciting to be able to have so many players, that you as a coach feel comfortable going to and that’s somewhere we’ve gotten to with this year’s team.”

On how she hopes this season will be different from last season: “Obviously, being able to compete and have more consistency through conference play. We had some lulls, I would say where we had a couple multiple-game losing streaks and just trying to be quicker to bounce back if we need to. But, I think we have a collection of players that [can] compete for a championship this year. And to be in the hunt, get to a point where we potentially can have a double bye, not having to play on day one or day two of the conference tournament is something we’re really looking forward to doing.” 

Dayton huddles before the A-10 tournament championship game against UMass on March 6. 2022.
Dayton huddles up before the A-10 tournament championship game against UMass on March 6. 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

Dayton

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 1st

Last season, the Flyers went 26-6 (14-1 in the A-10), including a First Four win. Though it lost to Georgia in the first round, Dayton had not played in more than one NCAA Tournament game since 2015, when it went to the Elite Eight. The team also lost 10 players from last season’s roster, five to graduation and five to the transfer portal. In addition, Shauna Green left to be the head coach at Illinois. Tamika Williams-Jeter was hired to take her place and added seven new faces.

Dayton returns 8.8% of its scoring from last season (5.8 points per game from four returning players). This season’s the Flyers will look a lot different than teams past as the program looks to continue its streak of winning seasons — the team has not had a losing season since 2015-16, when Jim Jabir was head coach. 

Key losses:

G Araion Bradshaw, 5’6: 6.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals

G Makira Cook, 5’6: 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals. 2021-22 A-10 Most Improved Player.

F Kyla Whitehead, 6’2: 7.3 points and 7.0 rebounds

G Jenna Giacone, 6’1: 12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.9 steals

G/F Erin Whalen, 6’1: 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists

C Tenin Magassa, 6’5: 5.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks

Newcomers:

G Nayo Lear, 5’10: Played at Example Sports Academy 

G Taisiya Kozlova, 6’1: Averaged 1.3 points and 1.0 rebounds at Maryland

G Anyssa Jones, 5’10: Scored five points in eight games at Ohio State

F Arianna Smith, 6’2: Averaged 7.2 points and 4.5 rebounds at Indiana State. Shot 47.4% from the field.

G Sydney Freeman, 5’8: Averaged 11.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals at Ball State

G/F Saija Cleveland, 6’1: Four-year letterwinner at Langham Creek High School

F Eleanor Monyek, 6’: Averaged 17.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.3 assists as a senior and was a four-year letterwinner at Hinsdale Central High School

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 7 @ Providence 

Nov. 21 vs. Mississippi (Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship)

Nov. 23 vs. Kentucky (Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship)

Dec. 4 vs. Florida

Dec. 20 vs. Texas A&M (Las Vegas Invitational)

Head coach: Tamika Williams-Jeter, 1st season

Coach’s perspective:

“We’re a completely new team and new program. So for us just working on some chemistry, which starts with communication. That’s one big focus we’ve had is to talk. We have a team full of introverts, most of them. So growth from a communicative standpoint will be huge, of course. Also our energy level is increased because I think they’ve done the work off the court. So now it’s starting to transfer on the court, which usually is what happens. But the biggest thing is we’re bringing in all new coaches, all new staff, a whole group of new players only really four returners that are familiar with the program, and building that foundation that can help really spark a new culture. So I think that’s what everybody works on every year, except we don’t have any parts that were here last year.” 

“I mean when you come into this situation with all new players and a lot of inexperienced players you can go two ways… You can go and play subpar teams or not too so good teams and come close to winning or win or lose and have a false sense of who we are or where we want this program to be. Or we play people that challenge us big time. And if you don’t show up, you get embarrassed. And of course, I chose that route because I’m crazy like that. But I want not only for the kids on this team to understand what the standard is to place the word Flyer across your chest. I want future Flyers to understand what it means to come to a place like this.”

“[I was] always being put in situations even from high school, or my AAU program where you’re not always the top dog and you have to come in and create an environment that attracts great people and great players to accomplish great things. And I think that’s the most exciting thing about taking over something that has such a rich tradition in winning and dominating a conference and going to the NCAA Tournament and producing really good players to four returners, who haven’t played much, some transfers. A  lot of your production graduates and now you’re sitting here in the same situation, now of course, a few times in the last 20-plus years of my life. And you got to figure out the people, you got to figure out the coaches, you got to figure out the staff, you got to figure out what type of players, how you want them to conduct themselves on and off the court. So to most people that seems tragic and makes them anxious, for me, it’s like I can’t wait to get to work the next day to figure out this puzzle. And that excites me.”

Duquesne poses for its 2022-23 team photo.
Duquesne poses for the team’s 2022-23 team photo. (Photo credit: Phil Pavely | Duquesne Athletics)

Duquesne

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 10th

The Dukes finished last season 11-18, including 6-10 in A-10 play. The team started the season 1-4 and later opened 1-4 in conference play before going on three-game win streaks in both instances, though Duquesne struggled to find sustained success.

The Dukes welcome six new faces after losing two of their top three scorers from last season, Libby Bazelak and Fatou Pouye. The team returns Megan McConnell, who led the conference in steals last season and led the team in rebounding. Duquesne made the third-most 3-pointers per game last season (7.4) and averaged 14.8 assists per game, the most in the A-10.

Key returners:

G Megan McConnell, 5’7: 8.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.6 steals

G Tess Myers, 5’9: 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists

C Precious Johnson, 6’4: 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.1 blocks

G/F Amaya Hamilton, 6’2: 6.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists

Key losses:

G Libby Bazelak, 5’9: 9.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals

G Fatou Pouye, 6’: 12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists

Newcomers:

G Reilly Sunday, 5’9: Averaged 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals as a senior at Moon Area High School. Earned All-State honors and helped lead her team to a 21-6 record and the PIAA Class 5A girls’ basketball quarterfinals as a senior. Totaled 1,389 points in her Moon Area career.

G Naelle Bernard, 5’5: Averaged 9.0 points at Salt Lake City Community College. Shot 34.2% from behind the arc.

G Dea Pushkolli, 5’11: Represented Kosovo at the 2021 European U20 Championships

F Kaitlyn Ammons, 6’3: Averaged 2.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in 9.4 minutes (12 games) for DePaul last season before having her season shortened due to a medical condition

C Selma Kulo, 6’4: Averaged 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds last season for Western Kentucky. Led the team with 21 blocks.

F Ayanna Townsend, 6’2: Averaged 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds in 26.0 minutes. Left Xavier with the seventh-most blocks in program history (80). Named the 2021-22 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 19 @ Pitt 

Dec. 4 @ Delaware 

Dec. 16 @ Temple 

Head coach: Dan Burt, 10th season

Coach’s perspective:

“We’re healthy. … We had suffered substantial injuries over the last 16 months with numerous starters, multiple all-conference players, and to finally be healthy, it has been just an amazing thing. You learn to really appreciate your health and the health of your kids. So we’ve taken a different tact in the way that we’re training. It’s much more of a slower ramp-up as we go into our regular practice season. But just celebrating the health, the positive health of our players, because they’re talented, they’re skilled, we’ve got good size, but we needed them to be healthy and they finally are.”

“The one thing I would want people to know about our team is that we’re going to play fast. And that’s such a cliche statement from a coach. But I think you’re going to see a lot of early offense from us where we’re going to shoot threes early in the shot clock in transition. And we have multiple people that can do that from Precious Johnson, our center last year, to Tess Myers, one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. We’ve added some other weapons there to really attack from the 3-point line and that’s what we plan on doing this season.”

Fordham huddles up during a timeout.
Fordham huddles up during a timeout during a game against George Mason on Jan. 12, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

Fordham

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 6th

Fordham’s 2021-22 season finish (sixth) was its lowest since the 2016 conference tournament, but the team advanced to the WNIT before falling to Bucknell in the first round. On June 30, Fordham announced that Stephanie Gaitley would be leaving Fordham after 11 years, and on July 8, Candice Green, who previously served as an assistant coach for three seasons, was named as the interim head coach.

The Rams return 2020-21 A-10 Co-Player of the Year Anna DeWolfe, who was second in the conference in scoring last season (17.8 points per game). 

Key returners:

F Kaitlyn Downey, 6’1: 8.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals 

G Anna DeWolfe, 5’8: 17.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals

G Asiah Dingle, 5’5: 14.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 steals

F Megan Jonassen, 6’: 4.5 points and 5.9 rebounds

Key losses:

G Kendell Heremaia, 5’9: 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals

Newcomers:

G Faith Pappas, 5’11: Team captain at Pope John XXIII Regional High School. Finished high school with 1,169 career points and was a four-year member of the honor roll. 

F Rose Nelson, 6’1: Played for six years at St. Paul’s and its Division I team, including the last five with the varsity squad in Australia. She also played soccer and futsol. 

G Ashley O’Connor, 5’9: Helped her team finish 32-1, as well as win the Tournament of Champions, win a state title, and secure a top-five finish nationally as a senior. Was a member of the National Honor Society.

F Jada Dapaa, 5’11: Averaged 9.4 points, 12.6 rebounds (third in the country), 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals at Saint Francis last season. Set a single-season program record with 378 rebounds. Named NEC Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player as well as to the All-NEC First Team last season. 

F Kaila Berry, 5’11: Was a team captain at St. John’s Preparatory School and on the Principal’s List with both first and second honors. 

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 7 vs. Yale 

Nov. 13 @ Maryland 

Nov 16 @ Princeton 

Nov. 26 vs. South Dakota (Las Vegas Holiday Classic)

Dec. 17 vs. Seton Hall

Head coach: Candice Green, 1st season

Coach’s perspective:

“For this team I am really hoping that we grow mentally. I want our girls mentally prepared to handle any adversity that comes our way. I also want our kids to start living more in the moment. They are so worried about what has happened and so anxious about the future, they forget the only thing they should be focused on is the now. Last thing I want our kids to internalize is there is no such thing as failure. Kobe Bryant has this great saying that he has never failed, only learned. The only way to fail is if you stop, as long as you learn and progress, you’ve done what’s right. Basically prioritizing growth over outcome. That type of mindset I think is key for us to succeed this year.”

“Every game we have [is] exciting. In particular, our games vs. Maryland and trip to Vegas will be awesome because of the reputation of those schools and the location. I don’t gamble but hopefully, we can take the girls to a cool show. I could really mention every team here though, but the big thing that excites me is just getting ready for conference play. Finally getting to see how different combinations and strategies work is going to be so much fun.”

“I’m just excited for the opportunity. I mean this group is just so much fun to be around — all the buzzwords that you can think of — family, dedicated, accountable, etc. — this group has it. Losing in the [quarterfinals] last year hurt us all deeply. We have six seniors [and] grads with one more chance at this thing. And being honest I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of this year in terms of myself [and the] staff as well. We’re all working with this quiet desperation to do everything we can to accomplish our goals.”

George Mason huddles at its open practice on September 17, 2022
George Mason huddles at its open practice on Sep. 17, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

George Mason

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 14th

George Mason finished last season 10-19, including 3-12 in conference play. On March 2, the Patriots became the first No. 14 seed to win a game in the A-10 tournament and the first last-seeded team to win a conference tournament game since No. 12 seed Rhode Island upset No. 5 seed George Washington in 2009.

In head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis’ first season, Mason defeated Florida, but struggled in conference play, averaging just 55.0 points against A-10 opponents. Amaya Scott, the Patriots’ leading scorer last season, has since gone on to play professionally in Luxembourg, but George Mason returns two of its other top three scorers and adds seven new faces to its roster.

Key returners:

G Taylor Jameson, 5’6: 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals

C Jazmyn Doster, 6’2: 5.6 points and 6.4 rebounds

F Tamia Lawhorne, 6’: 9.0 points and 3.4 rebounds. Made 35.2% of her 3-point attempts, first on the team and 13th in the conference.

Key losses:

F Amaya Scott, 6’1: 15.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.2 steals

G Jordan Wakefield, 6’: 8.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.9 steals

G Jayla Adams, 5’6: 5.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists

Newcomers:

G Sonia Smith, 5’7: Averaged 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals at Sacred Heart and was selected to the All-NEC Third Team last season

F Riley Childs, 6’: Averaged 5.9 points and 6.6 rebounds at Boston. Averaged 7.5 rebounds over her Terrier career, fifth-most in program history.

F Nalani Kaysia, 6’2: Played three seasons of collegiate volleyball at Charlotte. Prior to college, she was a three-sport athlete at Sidwell Friends School, where she totaled 1,035 points and 1,300 rebounds.

G Trey Kennedy, 5’8: Averaged 10.6 points and 4.3 rebounds at Marist and was second on the team in scoring and rebounding

F Nekhu Mitchell, 6’: Two-time captain at McDonogh High School and played AAU for Fairfax Stars

F Zahirah Walton, 5’11: Averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists as a junior in high school

G Jada Brown, 5’6: Played at New Hope Academy and AAU for the DMV Lady Tigers

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 7 vs. Maryland

Nov. 12 @ Pitt

Nov. 24 vs. LSU (Goombay Splash) 

Dec. 3 vs. American 

Head coach: Vanessa Blair-Lewis, 2nd season

Coach’s perspective:

“I think we definitely want to be in the top half of the conference this year. I think that we have the roster and the players, knock on wood, [they] stay healthy, that we’ll be able to accomplish that. Also, I just want to see us defensively become better. I’m a defensive coach. And last year, I think that we gave up a lot of points, something that we’re not really used to as a coaching staff. So getting the buy-in for defense is going to be really important to this team.”

On who she expects to step up and continue to shine this year:“ I think Taylor [Jameson] is going to be a really big part of what we do this year. [Jazmyn Doster] has an amazing upside it’s just been really good to be able to work with her for a year, her presence down there in the post. Tamia Lawhorne just working on her shot all this summer and being able to do things off the ball is going to be huge. She’s a terrific shooter. With the addition of players like Sonia [Smith] coming in and as a point guard is going to be great. Paula [Suárez] I think one year [of] not being a freshman anymore is going to be huge for her. She just looked really good this summer, being such a big point guard for us. Also, I think Trey [Kennedy] is going to do well for us being on the wing being able to provide some inside, outside punch. And J-Naya [Ephraim], staying healthy. With J-Naya down there being able to get her mid-range shot off and being able to be a big defensive rebounding presence for us.”

George Washington huddles during a timeout against George Mason on January 29, 2022.
George Washington huddles during a timeout against George Mason on Jan. 29, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

George Washington

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 12th

The Colonials went 13-18 last season, including 4-11 in conference play, and rattled off two wins in the A-10 tournament before falling to VCU in the quarterfinals. George Washington averaged 51.6 points last season, last in the A-10, and no individual averaged more than 8.9 points. The team’s defense shined, allowing the second-fewest points in the conference (55.2). In addition, Mayowa Taiwo was fourth in the conference in rebounding (8.7 per game). In head coach Caroline McCombs’ second season, the Colonials return four of their top six scorers and welcome five new faces.

Key returners:

F Mayowa Taiwo, 6’: 8.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.6 steals

G Sheslanie Laureano, 5’10: 8.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 steals

G Nya Lok, 5’11: 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds

G Maxine Engel, 6’: 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds

Key losses:

G Kyara Frames, 5’2: 7.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists

F Tyasia Moore, 6’: 7.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals (McCombs said that Moore was “ineligible” after last playing Jan. 5)

Newcomers:

Nya Robertson*, 5’7: Earned two First-Team All-District honors and two Fort Worth Star Offensive MVP honors at Boswell High School. Was the 6A 3-point leader in Texas with 114.

G Jayla Thornton, 5’10: Averaged 5.6 points and 1.8 rebounds in five games at Syracuse. In four seasons at Howard, she totaled 1,222 points and 275 3-pointers and was named the MEAC Player of the Year in 2021.

Caia Loving*, 6’2: Averaged 8.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks at Riverdale Baptist School

G Mia Lakstigala, 5’11: Averaged 10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals at Penn

G Asjah Inniss, 5’9: Averaged 5.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists at Northwest Florida State College

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 7 @ Virginia 

Nov. 17 @ American 

Dec. 5 @ TCU 

Head coach: Caroline McCombs, 2nd season

Coach’s perspective:

“We actually don’t talk about goals, we don’t have goals, we talk about commitments and controllables. So those are all things that — we are a process-oriented team. And so we try to get better every day, we try to stay focused on the little things. Little things are big things for us. And so again, we don’t talk about big picture, we try to stay the course. … But just taking those things, day by day, obviously. For us committing to each other to be at the best that we can be every day is something that’s really important. We evaluate that. Our team has a very high standard. And so we try to come in every day and meet that standard and hold each other accountable and call each other up to a higher level of living. And so we just try to do that on a daily basis and let the rest take care of itself.”

On what excites her about the nonconference schedule: “I just think the opportunity to prepare for A-10 play. We’ll open up at Virginia, have a few home games, go to a stretch in Las Vegas, where we’re able to simulate the A-10 tournament where you’re playing back-to-back games. So I think that’s always important to be able to do. I think everything in the nonconference is just preparing us for A-10 play. So I think it’s a competitive schedule. And we just want to be ready, come January.”

Kayla Spruill (yellow jersey) goes up for a shot over Amaya Scott of George Mason (black jersey) on January 21, 2022.
La Salle’s Kayla Spruill goes up for a shot over Amaya Scott of George Mason on Jan. 21, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

La Salle

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 5th

The Explorers finished last season 16-12, including 9-6 in the A-10, with more wins than losses for the first time under head coach Mountain MacGillivray. La Salle earned the No. 5 seed, its highest since the A-10 did away with the East and West divisions for the 2006 conference tournament. This season, MacGillivray hopes to be playing in more than one game in the A-10 tournament, after falling to GW 64-54 last season in the second round. Last season the team averaged 8.5 made 3-pointers per game (second in the conference), led by 2.2 threes per game on 45.9% shooting by Kayla Spruill.

Key returners:

G Claire Jacobs, 6’: 10.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals

G Molly Masciantonio, 5’10: 6.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.1 steals

G/F Kayla Spruill, 6’: 15.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 steals

F Gabby Crawford, 6’2: 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals (16 games) 

G Jaye Haynes, 5’8: 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.9 steals

G Amy Jacobs, 6’: 5.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals

Newcomers:

G Fiona Connolly, 5’8: Played at Brewster Academy.  

G Emma Egan, 5’8: Ranked fifth academically in her graduating class at Bullitt East High School

F Mia Jacobs, 6’2: A Perth Lynx development player. Younger sister of Amy and Claire Jacobs. 

G Charity Shears, 5’9: Averaged 12.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.4 steals in her four seasons at West Virginia State (D-II). Named to the All-MEC Second Team as a junior and senior.

C Gabriela Falcão, 6’4: Averaged 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks at the 2021 FIBA U18 Women’s European Challengers

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 29 vs. Penn 

Dec. 5 @ Temple 

Dec. 17 @ USF

Dec. 21 @ Villanova 

Head coach: Mountain MacGillivray, 5th season

Coach’s perspective:

“I think we’re looking forward to taking a major step with regards to playing games as the team that is expected to win. We’ve had a lot of games this past season, where we started to be the favorite in those games. And I don’t think we handled that very well. The expectation, the added pressure, the maybe even looking past sometimes, but I don’t think that was it as much, are all steps as you’re building something that you’ve got to go through. And so I think, this season, that’s kind of a theme for us is being able to handle that. I think the expectations are very high, I think we’re going to be favored in a lot of the games we play. Now we have to be able to perform with those expectations on us.”

“I think our last few years you kind of knew, it was going to be Kayla Spruill and Claire Jacobs who were going to score for you. And who knows what else was going to happen. But I think you should still reasonably expect that those two are going to perform, but there’s competition in every position on our roster. And I’m really excited about the fact that I think on any given night, it could be somebody different who has an impact that maybe we weren’t expecting or our opponent wasn’t expecting. And the best teams that I’ve been a part of, that’s kind of the way it was, the system isn’t built around necessarily having a star player. It’s built around having a situation where anybody can be that person on any given night.”

“I think that we are in a position to do things that haven’t been done around here in a long time. And the added expectation and pressure that goes along with that is fun to engage in. It really is. It’s much better to be expected to perform well than it is to have people think there’s nothing expected of you. So, that means we’ve put ourselves in a situation to be recognized with the top teams in a really, really good basketball league. And now we get an opportunity to go out there and prove that we belong there. And, as a coach, that’s a fun position to be in, to have something to strive for, to try to raise the level of everybody on the team. But on the other side, just excited to see the maturity and the growth of each one of these young women who’ve been here. They’ve been sacrificing a lot. They’ve been really coming together. And, I’m excited to see how that pays off on the court. It’s already been wonderful for the coaches’ and the players’ experience off the court. But looking to see it pay dividends on the basketball court.”


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The Loyola Chicago women's basketball team huddles around head coach Kate Achter
Loyola Chicago huddles around now-former head coach Kate Achter. (Photo credit: Steve Woltmann/Loyola Athletics)

Loyola Chicago

2021-22 MVC standing: 5th

The Ramblers finished last season 18-12 and 10-8 in the Missouri Valley Conference, their most wins since the 1988-89 season. Loyola Chicago is the fourth team to join the A-10 since 2012 and the team looks to be the first team during that time to have more than four conference wins in its first Atlantic 10 season.

Loyola announced it would not renew then-head coach Kate Achter’s contract on March 24 and named Allison Guth head coach on April 8. The school joined the A-10 officially on July 1. The Ramblers welcome five new faces, including three freshmen and two transfers. 

Key returners:

G Maya Chandler, 5’7: 10.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists

G Sam Galanopoulos, 5’8: 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists

F Sitori Tanin, 6’2: 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists

F Julia Hoefling, 6’1: 4.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.8 blocks

Key losses:

F Allison Day, 6’1: 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists

G Bre Hampton-Bey, 5’6: 8.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals

Newcomers:

G Kira Chivers, 5’3: Played at Marist High School. 

G Sophia Nolan, 6’1: Averaged 0.4 points and 0.4 rebounds in three seasons at St. John’s

G Whitney Dunn, 5’9: Played at Kenwood Academy

G Mallory Ramage, 5’10: Played at Mattoon High School

F Emma Nolan, 6’1: Averaged 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in three seasons at St. John’s

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 16 vs. Virginia

Nov. 22 vs. Miami

Dec. 7 vs. DePaul

Dec. 10 at Marquette 

Head coach: Allison Guth, 1st season

Coach’s perspective:

“In trying to build culture, that takes time, we’re really focused on things that define our identity. We want to be great teammates every day. In terms of our offensive system, we want to play fast, we think we can play with some freedom. And we think that’s fun when we share the ball, so we’re trying to do that. So that’s an identity piece. And we’re trying to defend as a unit, as a team together. And we’re doing that in terms of our identity as well. So from a basketball perspective, I think how we show up for one another every day is a focus, because we really want to play some unselfish basketball. I think from the offensive standpoint, you can understand our style and defensively in terms of, we run the pack. So we’re trying to lock down and grow in those areas. But I can tell you, there’s not a place across the board that we aren’t touched on in terms of a growth mindset. It’s part of our standard of our program.

On Loyola’s first season in the A-10: “We say a lot, no matter what happens this is going to be a record-setting year for Loyola because it’s our first time.”

“I think there’s an importance in scheduling to make sure you’re building and preparing your team for what you hope to be postseason play. I also think there’s an importance of building morale and buy-in. I think we’re going to have to find ways, between taking some tough ones on the chin, finding ways to [have] those losses, help us learn moving forward. So it’s challenging, the exciting piece is we’re playing the best to be the best. The challenging piece is maintaining our process-driven attitude, while we play some teams that are just more experienced, veteran and at a different place in their program culture than we are.”

UMass holds its ticket to the NCAA Tournament after winning the team's first Atlantic 10 Championship after a 62-56 win over Dayton on March 6. Photo Credit: Domenic Allegra.
UMass holds its ticket to the NCAA Tournament after winning the team’s first Atlantic 10 championship, 62-56 win over Dayton, on March 6. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

UMass

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 3rd

The Minutewomen won their first A-10 tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 (third time overall) last season. Though the team fell to No. 5 seed Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, UMass returns its top six scorers from last season, including 2021-22 A-10 Player of the Year Sam Breen, and adds four new faces. The Minutewomen finished 26-7 last season (11-4 in the A-10), the most wins in program history. They led the Atlantic 10 in points per game (71.7) and were second in field goal percentage (43.9%), rebounds (40.0), steals (7.8) and assists per game (14.6). 

Key returners:

G Sydney Taylor, 5’9: 15.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists

F Sam Breen, 6’1: 17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals

G Ber’Nyah Mayo, 5’6: 9.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 steals

G Destiney Philoxy, 5’7: 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals

F Angelique Ngalakulondi, 6’2: 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in 22.0 minutes

F Makennah White, 6’2: 6.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in 19.2 minutes

Newcomers:

G Lilly Ferguson, 5’10: Four-year letterwinner at Newington High School and as a junior helped her team win its first Central Connecticut Conference title. Was named team MVP as a freshman and averaged 16.7 points per game as a senior. Scored 1,266 points in her NHS career, a school record.

G Kristin Williams, 5’8: Averaged 13.4 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals at Pensacola State College

F Laila Fair, 6’2: Averaged 8.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.9 blocks for Saint Joseph’s. Named to the 2021-22 A-10 All-Rookie Team and 2022 A-10 All-Championship Team.

F Piath Gabriel, 6’5: Averaged 3.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in 4.9 minutes (13 games) at UConn

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 10 @ Tennessee 

Nov. 18 @ Harvard 

Dec. 2 vs. Arizona State (Arizona State Tournament)

Dec. 3 vs. Missouri (Arizona State Tournament)

Dec. 10 vs. Columbia 

Head coach: Tory Verdi, 7th season

Coach’s perspective:

“I know that we’re going to be capable of playing at a certain level, we want to sustain playing at a successful level through the 40 minutes of a game. So looking for that, but then I’m also looking for our team to get acclimated with one another. We have some new players on the team. So we’re looking to really develop our depth and have those new players help impact the game.”

“We’re a better team. I think that on any given day we can have some players step up. Sam Breen is obviously the A-10 Player of the Year and I expect her to be consistent and provide us with a bulk of the scoring and rebounding. Sydney Taylor I think is one of the best scoring guards in the A-10 and so to me, those two right there are a dynamic duo. But then it’s like Ber’Nyah Mayo has really developed her skill set. Destiney Philoxy’s a fifth year so we have a lot of pieces in place already. But it wouldn’t surprise me if we have four to five players in double figures each and every single night.”

“We know that we’re going to get everyone’s best each and every single night. And it’s been a journey and last year, we won the A-10 championship and this year is different but we want to have the same results and we don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. We want to sustain success. … Our intentions were to be a better team this year than we were a year ago and I think that on paper we’ve done that, but now we got to go out on the court and we’ve got to prove it.

Rhode Island team huddle
Rhode Island huddles as a team against Boston University on Dec. 19, 2021. (Photo credit: Alan Hubbard | Rhode Island Athletics)

Rhode Island

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 2nd

After an impressive regular season, including setting the program record for wins in a season with a 22-7 finish (12-2 in the A-10), the Rams struggled in the postseason, falling in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament for the second year in a row. Rhode Island has not won a game in the A-10 tournament since the 2015-16 season. The team also lost to Quinnipiac in the first round of the WNIT.

With a 10-year contract in tow, head coach Tammi Reiss brought in three intraconference transfers (Madison Hattix-Covington, Emma Squires and Tenin Magassa) and four other new faces to help mitigate the loss of 83.1% of the team’s scoring from last season. Reiss accomplished her goal last season of setting a program record in wins, and this season hopes her team is able to have fun and enjoy the ride.

Key returner:

G Dolly Cairns, 5’7: 10.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists

Key losses:

G Chanell Williams, 5’5: 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals

F Marie-Paule Foppossi, 6’1: 11.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals

G Dez Elmore, 5’10: 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks

F Emmanuelle Tahane, 6’1: 13.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals

Newcomers:

F Anaelle Dutat, 6’: Attended Lycée Victor Hugo in France

F Emma Squires, 6’2: Averaged 10.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists at Richmond. 2021-22 A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year.

G Madison Hattix-Covington, 5’10: Averaged 6.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals at VCU. 2019-20 A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year.

C Tenin Magassa, 6’5: Averaged 5.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.1 blocks at Dayton

C Anete Adler, 6’5: Averaged 3.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in the 2019 FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship while representing Estonia. Participated in the NBA Academy program in 2021. 

G Ines Debroise, 5’9: Attended Insep School in France and placed third at the U16 European Championship in 2018

G Sayawni Lassiter, 5’10: Averaged 4.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals in 19.0 minutes at Rutgers

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 7 @ Harvard 

Nov. 14 vs. Providence 

Dec. 1 vs. Buffalo

Dec. 22 @ Wake Forest 

Dec. 28 vs. Princeton 

Head coach: Tammi Reiss, 4th season

Coach’s perspective:

On the three intraconference transfers: “First, they were successful in conference, all three of them. Tenin [Magassa], Madison [Hattix-Covington] and Emma [Squires] were all sixth [player] of the year at one time or another. So they were successful in-conference. They know our conference. So they know scout, they know everything, they’ve been in conference for quite a few years. And it just so happened that we needed those types of players and they happen to be in-conference. I didn’t expect to take intra[conference transfers]. But when they showed interest in us, it was a perfect fit. Emma, we needed great 3-point shooting and a stretch 4. She hit seven threes against us last year when we played Richmond. She single-handedly almost won the game for them. So from our 4 spot, we desperately needed more 3-point shooting. It’s why we didn’t win last year, we couldn’t stretch the floor. So getting her it just, it fit us and she’s from [Massachusetts] so she’s right up the way here. She’s an hour from our campus. So that just kind of fell into our lap. Madison, same thing. We need an athletic 3 that can run the floor, get out in the break. Madison happened to be that and then the last one was we wanted the monster center. That probably was the only center that gave [Emmanuelle] Tahane problems. And [Tahane] is at one time A-10 Player of the Year and she had massive problems with [Tenin]. Tenin is just a beast. She’s huge. So those three are exactly what we needed and they happen to be in-conference. So it was a win-win for us. That we knew them. I know their character. I know how they play. It’s not like you’re just picking out of a hat and going ‘oh, we’re going to take this kid, I don’t really know her I’m gambling on it.’ I know these kids. I’ve watched them play for years. And I love each and every one of them.”

“Last year, we were the front-[runner]. Everyone was like, ‘Oh, Rhode Island, we’re picking them top of the conference.’ We had a lot of returners, player of the year and so you kind of knew what you had, the expectation was there. When I walked into practice, I knew what we had from day one. With this squad, it’s like the sky’s the limit. It’s a blank canvas. And I’m interested to see how this unfolds, who’s going to step up? Who’s going to assume this role and that role, and then again, how quickly we can come together? Because they are, they’re very talented, but some of them are very inexperienced. So I’m just excited because I don’t know exactly what we have yet. I don’t. When the bright lights come on, it’ll be very interesting to see them and so that makes me excited. I can say this about this team. They will go through a brick wall for me… They probably represent who I am a lot more than our last team did from a standpoint of blue collar, show up every day, what do I need to get better, Coach, tell me and I’ll do it. That’s what makes this team so enjoyable is that they’ll do anything to get better. And I really appreciate that and that’s why I love, I do I love going to practice every day and being around these kids.”

Grace Townsend brings the ball up the court against George Mason on January 19. 2022
Richmond’s Grace Townsend brings the ball up the court against George Mason on Jan. 19, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

Richmond

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 8th

The Spiders finished last season 16-14, including 7-9 in A-10 play. The team will need to replace the productivity of two of its top three scorers (Kate Klimkiewicz and Emma Squires). It returns last season’s leading scorer, Addie Budnik, who also was second in the conference in blocks per game (2.6). The Spiders also return Grace Townsend, who was second in the conference in assists (5.3) and averaged 5.1 rebounds per game last season as a 5’5 guard. Richmond led the conference in made threes per game (9.2) and was second in the Atlantic 10 in 3-point field goal percentage (34.1%).

Key returners:

G Grace Townsend, 5’5: 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.2 steals

F Addie Budnik, 6’2: 13.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.6 blocks

G Siobhan Ryan, 6’: 8.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists

Key losses:

F Emma Squires, 6’2: Averaged 10.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists. 2021-22 A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year.

G Kate Klimkiewicz, 6’3: 11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.0 steals

Newcomers:

F Jada Green, 6’1: Played at St. Thomas Aquinas High School

G Torin Rogers, 6’1: Played at Murphy High School

G Rachel Ullstrom, 6’1: Played at Marianapolis Preparatory School

F Emilija Krista Grava, 6’2: Averaged 13.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists in four seasons at Wagner. Was named to the All-NEC First Team each of the past three seasons.

F Maggie Doogan, 6’2: Played at Cardinal O’Hara High School

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 13 @ Clemson

Dec. 1 @ William & Mary 

Dec. 4 vs. Duke 

Dec. 20 vs. Ball State (Puerto Rico Clasico)

Head coach: Aaron Roussell, 4th season

Coach’s perspective:

“I think we’re unique in the sense that we do have some experience back. I think we have three juniors that have logged quite a bit of minutes in our program with Siobhan Ryan and Grace Townsend and Addie Budnik. But we’re unique also in the sense that we have a transfer from Wagner that’s played a lot of minutes, both internationally but also a three-time all-conference kid up at Wagner. So we do have some experience, but we don’t have a lot of seniors. So I think we still have some youth to us. I think our sophomore class gained some great experience last year, and I really like our freshmen. So I think the biggest thing right now is trying to build on chemistry. 

On how he hopes this season will be different from last season: “I think we had some signs for optimism early. I think we had a really good nonconference portion of the schedule. I think we did really well at the beginning of January and then just hit some roadblocks and I think a lot of that was due to some defensive lapses. And probably even more specifically with the defense, I just didn’t think we rebounded the ball very well. And I think that got us in some trouble both offensively on the poor shooting nights, we didn’t give ourselves a lot of second chances. And, I thought defensively we extended too many possessions, with not ending the possession with the rebound. So that’s something that we’ve addressed and hopefully I think have talked a lot about.”

I'yanna Lops puts up a shot against George Mason on January 23, 2022.
St. Bonaventure’s I’yanna Lops puts up a shot against George Mason on Jan. 23, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

St. Bonaventure

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 13th

The Bonnies finished last season with a 12-16 record, including 4-12 in conference play, the first season in head coach Jesse Fleming’s six-year tenure in which the team finished with more than 10 wins. St. Bonaventure lost its two leading scorers from last season in Tori Harris and Asianae Johnson; the pair were also its second- and third- leading rebounders, respectively. Johnson led the conference in scoring last season (18.1 points per game). Fleming believes that the team will need to have multiple people step up every night and have three to four players score in double figures every game.  

Key returners:

F I’yanna Lops, 6’3: 8.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.6 blocks

G Tianna Johnson, 5’10: 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals

G/F Maddie Dziezgowski, 5’10: 6.3 points and 3.2 rebounds

Key losses:

G Tori Harris, 6’: 11.1 points and 5.2 rebounds

G Asianae Johnson, 5’8: 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals

Newcomers:

G Breauna Ware, 5’8: Averaged 22.1 points at Mary Louis Academy

G Nadechka Laccen, 5’6: Averaged 15.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists at Tyler Junior College

G Kirah Dandridge, 5’10: Graduated from New Hope Academy

G Aaniya Webb, 5’11: Averaged 18.1 points at Omaha Central High School

G Payton Fields, 6’: Averaged 6.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.5 steals at Western Nebraska Community College

F Flera Vinerte, 6’2: Played in 13 games at San Diego State due to injury and averaged 0.8 points and 1.6 rebounds

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 30 @ Bucknell

Dec. 4 @ Kent State

Dec. 28 vs. Buffalo 

Head coach: Jesse Fleming, 7th season

Coach’s perspective:

“I’d like us to get just a little tougher a little more mentally tougher, a little more physically tougher so that we can be peaking a little later in the season, and be one of those teams in the A-10 that’s finishing the year really strong.” 

On who he expects to step up this season: “It’s going to be a very different setup, where we really fed the ball to Asianae Johnson last year. When I think of step up, I really think it’s going to be a number, I think it’s going to be a bunch of players. I think we’re going to have to have three to four, double-figure scorers every night. Not a team that has ‘Hey, somebody that scores 20,’ and then the rest scores between six and eight. We’re going to need multiple people to step up every single night and that can be the returners with Nikki Oppenheimer and Tianna Johnson and Maddie Dziezgowski and I’yanna Lops and Taylor Napper. That can be the newcomers that we brought in as well. It’s got to be a group effort.”

Saint Joseph's huddles up against UMass on March 5, 2022.
Saint Joseph’s huddles up during its game against UMass on March 5, 2022. Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

Saint Joseph’s

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 7th

The Hawks finished 13-17 last season and 7-8 in A-10 play. As the No. 7 seed, the team won a game in the A-10 tournament for the first time since the 2018-19 season and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since the 2017-18 season. Saint Joseph’s returns three of its top five scorers from last year, including 2021-22 A-10 Rookie of the Year Talya Brugler. The Hawks had two in-season transfers and two postseason transfers last season and welcome four new faces to the team this season.  

Key returners:

G Katie Jekot, 5’9: 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game

F Talya Brugler, 6’1: 10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists. 2021-22 A-10 Rookie of the Year.

G Julia Nyström, 5’7: 4.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals. Named to the 2021-22 A-10 All-Rookie Team.

G Mackenzie Smith, 5’10: 9.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 0.9 assists. Named to the 2021-22 A-10 All-Rookie Team.

Key losses:

G Kaliah Henderson, 5’10: 10.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists (12 games)

F Lovin Marsicano, 6’1: 5.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists

F Laila Fair, 6’2: Averaged 8.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.9 blocks. Named to the 2021-22 A-10 All-Rookie Team and 2022 A-10 All-Championship Team.

G Alayna Gribble, 6’: 5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists

Newcomers:

F Laura Ziegler, 6’2: Averaged 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while playing for IK Eos Lund in the highest division in Sweden (Svenska Basketligan Dam). Made her senior debut with the Denmark Women’s National Team when she was 18. Was named the Kvindebasketligaen Young Player of the Year in 2020-21 having averaged 15.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 blocks.

F Judit Ambrona, 6’2: Played for Santfeliuenc Basketball Club in the Federacio Catalana de Basquetbol

F Paula Maurina, 6’: Averaged 13.0 points and 3.9 rebounds at Hartford last season.

G Emirson Devenie, 6’1: Won a Hardwood Classix Championship during her time at Royal Crown Academic School in Canada. Was a development player for the Melbourne Boomers.

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 11 vs. Yale

Nov. 15 vs. Penn 

Nov. 23 vs. Temple 

Dec. 10 @ Villanova 

Head coach: Cindy Griffin, 22nd season

Coach’s perspective:

“I think we’re looking to grow offensively. We want to really [score] more than 60 points a game, we’re looking to add about five to seven more points in that category. So we’re looking to obviously shoot with a little bit more efficiency and getting the shots that we want and knowing the shots that we want. And every shot’s a good shot, but we want great shots. I think we can push the ball in transition and get some more easy baskets.”

“We need to get off to a really good start. Last year we won our first game and then we dropped like five or six in a row. So we really need to get off to a great start. And it’s important for this team to get confidence early and maintain that level of composure throughout the season.”


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Brooke Flowers goes up for a layup against a George Mason defender.
Saint Louis star Brooke Flowers goes up for a layup against Amaya Scott on Feb. 23, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

Saint Louis

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 11th

The Billikens finished last season 9-18, including 5-9 in conference play, the program’s worst winning percentage since 2010-11. After an injury-riddled year, including four players suffering season-ending injuries, Saint Louis looks to rebound. The team returns just one of its top three scorers from last season, 2021-22 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Brooke Flowers. The team returns five other players that scored at least 5.0 points per game and welcomes nine new faces. This includes four transfers from Longwood, where head coach Rebecca Tillett previously coached for four years before taking the Saint Louis job in April.

Key returners:

F/C Brooke Flowers, 6’5: 11.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 3.5 blocks. 2021-22 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

G Marisa Warren, 5’8: 7.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals

G Julia Martinez, 5’10: 5.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals

F Sevval Gul, 6’4: 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds

G Kiley Bess, 6’: 6.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals

F Peyton Kennedy, 5’11: 5.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists

Key losses:

G Ciaja Harbison, 5’6: 17.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals

G Natalie McNeal, 5’8: 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.9 steals

Newcomers:

G Kyla McMakin, 5’11: Averaged 18.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 steals at Longwood over three seasons. Was named to the Big South All-Conference First Team each of those three seasons.

G Camree Clegg, 5’5: Averaged 6.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists at St. John’s

G Abby Liber, 6’: Scored 1,139 points in her Avon High School career, a program record

PG Kennedy Calhoun, 5’5: Averaged 6.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.6 steals at Longwood last season.

G Isabel Tillett, 5’9: Redshirted last season at Longwood. Averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals as a senior at Cosby High School.

G Ashleigh Connor, 5’11: Scored 1,776 points in her career at Mount Lebanon High School.

F Nafatoumata Haidara, 6’5: Averaged 2.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.4 minutes at Chicago State

G/F Mia Nicastro, 6’2: Averaged 21.2 points and 8.9 rebounds as a junior at St. Charles West High School. Was also a two-time Gateway Athletic Conference North champion and two-time Gateway Athletic Conference North Player of the Year.

G/F Briana Johns, 5’11: Averaged 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 18.2 minutes at Longwood

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 15 @ Missouri State 

Nov. 20 vs. South Dakota 

Nov. 25 vs. Baylor (Gulf Coast Showcase) 

Nov. 30 vs. Missouri

Head coach: Rebecca Tillett, 1st season

Coach’s perspective:

“We’re really focused on day-to-day improvement. Yet you still have to have an end goal, what are you trying to do? And I think we’re trying to build a championship program and that’s why we’re here and what each of us has committed to do. Now, how quickly you do that defines how successful your program is perceived by others. So I think from a broad standpoint, we want to improve in some team categories. We want to compete for championships. And yeah, we want to see how fast we can do that.”

On the one thing she wants people to know about the team this season: “I think you’re going to see a group that is going to be spending the year figuring out how to play smart and tough. And I think keep watching us, what you see in the beginning, we hope you’re going to see just tremendous growth over the course of the season and being able to make really smart plays and really tough plays,”

Sarah Te-Biasu brings the ball up the court against George Mason on February 19, 2022.
VCU’s Sarah Te-Biasu brings the ball up the court against George Mason on Feb. 19, 2022. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

VCU

2021-22 Atlantic 10 standing: 4th

The Rams finished last season 16-12, including 9-5 in A-10 play. The season ended for VCU in a second-round WNIT loss to Seton Hall after it defeated Stony Brook in the first round. The team will look to improve its offensive efficiency: it was 12th in the conference last season in field goal percentage (38.2%) and it returns four of its top five scorers. Last season, the Rams averaged 12.2 turnovers per game, the fewest in the A-10.

Key returners:

G Sarah Te-Biasu, 5’5: 12.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals

G Janika Griffith-Wallace, 5’9: 8.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals

F/C Chloe Bloom, 6’3: 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds

F Keowa Walters, 6’2: 6.9 points and 5.3 rebounds

Key losses:

G Taya Robinson, 5’10: 16.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals

G Madison Hattix-Covington, 5’10: Averaged 6.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals. 2019-20 A-10 Sixth Woman of the Year.

Newcomers:

G Anisja Harris, 5’8: 14.8 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals at Florida A&M

G Timaya Lewis-Eutsey, 5’9: Was the fastest player at Life Center Academy to reach 1,000 points. Was named to the NJ Ladies Hoops All-State Second Team as a senior.

G Mary-Anna Asare, 5’8: Member of Canada’s U18 National Team in the 2022 FIBA U18 Women’s Americas Championship

G Deniz Torgut, 5’11: Averaged 5.6 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 13.4 minutes at the U18 European Championships. Also played for the Turkish club Botas Gelisim Ankara.

F Jennifer Ezeh, 6’3: Averaged 3.9 points and 4.4 rebounds at Missouri State (14 games)

Nonconference highlights:

Nov. 20 @ Charlotte

Nov. 24 vs. Seton Hall (Paradise Jam) 

Nov. 25 vs. Georgia (Paradise Jam) 

Nov. 26 vs. Wisconsin (Paradise Jam)

Head coach: Beth O’Boyle, 9th season

Coach’s perspective:

“It was honestly one of the most incredible experiences to be a part of. To be chosen by USA basketball to represent the US in the inaugural Global Jam, which was an under-23 FIBA international tournament held in Toronto, for both men’s and women’s teams. It was great. We were there with Baylor, representing the US and we played really high-level teams. We played France, we played Belgium, we played Canada. A little twist was Sarah Te-Biasu playing on the Canadian team and not being in the VCU uniform. We definitely learned that we like it better when she is making baskets for us. But just what a great way for our players to learn more about each other and to play against professional and Olympic teams, players that were playing for their countries.”

“I think right now it’s just that getting to know each other. We have a lot of new pieces and players in new roles. And so we’re really constantly talking about hey, how do we really work on our cohesiveness? It doesn’t matter what drill it is, doesn’t matter offense, defense, [it’s] ‘hey we want to be our best team and we’re going to get a great shot together or we’re going to get a stop together.’ And that’s the piece that we’re really building on right now.”


* At time of publication, Robertson and Loving have no listed position

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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