February 28, 2022 

What to watch for at the Atlantic 10 tournament

Dayton aims for third conference tournament title in six years while VCU looks to run it back

The Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tournament tips off on Wednesday afternoon, with all fourteen teams traveling to Wilmington, DE, for the first tournament of a multi-year agreement with CHASE Fieldhouse. 

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The first three rounds will be televised on ESPN+, the semifinals will be on CBS Sports Network and the championship game will be broadcast on ESPN2. 

The full bracket and schedule can be found below: 

Here are five storylines to watch for: 

Dayton looks to continue its regular-season success 

With a 60-46 win over Rhode Island on Feb. 26, Dayton secured its fifth A-10 regular-season title in six years. And will head to Wilmington to attempt to secure its third tournament championship in the same period. 

While the Flyers are early favorites to win the tournament, the team has stumbled in the past, winning the conference tournament in 2017 and 2020 and falling in the semifinals in 2018, 2019 and 2021. 

Dayton has extensive A-10 tournament experience, with seven players with at least three years of playing experience at the school. 

The Flyers have lost just one game since Dec. 2021, a 60-58 loss to VCU. The team moved on quickly from the loss. 

“It was pretty much back to business, like Flyers always bounce back, that’s what we do,” Araion Bradshaw said after the team’s win over Rhode Island. “If we drop one, we’re going to win a couple in a row. So as soon as we lost, I already knew we were going to rattle this off and I had no doubt that we were going to come win this championship on our home floor.” 

Dayton heads to Wilmington with a four-game win streak in tow and is scheduled to take on the winner of Richmond and Davidson on March 4 at 11 a.m.  

La Salle exceeded expectations this season 

For the first time in Mountain MacGillivray’s four-year tenure, the Explorers finished with more wins than losses going 16-11, including 9-6 in the A-10, during the regular season. As a result, La Salle earned the 5-seed, the program’s highest seeding since at least 2007. Before the season, the team was picked to finish eighth in the conference. 

The Explorers head to Wilmington with a four-game win streak, tied for longest in the conference with Dayton. And with three of those four wins coming at home. La Salle has yet to play on a neutral site this season but is 6-6 away from Tom Gola Arena. 

To make a run in the tournament, La Salle will likely need to defeat a team with a similar or better record than it, something the team struggled to do during the regular season with losses to Dayton, VCU and Rhode Island. The Explorers did open conference play this season with a win at Fordham.

Hot-shooting will be critical for La Salle; the team is 10-2 when shooting at least 40 percent from the floor. In addition, the Explorers won one game in the tournament in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2021. But have not won two games in the tournament during that period of time, something the team is looking to change. 

La Salle is scheduled to take on the George Washington and St. Bonaventure winner at 1:30 p.m. on March 3. 

UMass is looking to finish what it started last season 

With just seven players, the Minutewomen came minutes shy of winning its first tournament title last season, and this season the team looks to finish what it started in 2021, this time as the 3-seed. 

“I think our biggest goal right now is to win the A-10 championship and last year we were knocking on the door and were about two minutes shy from doing that,” head coach Tory Verdi told The Next prior to the start of the season. “But that’s our ultimate goal— is to win a championship and get to the NCAA Tournament.”

UMass’ offense ranks first in the conference in scoring, but depth is once again an issue for the Minutewomen. Shavonne Smith is no longer with the program, while Stefanie Kulesza underwent surgery for a broken bone in her hand on Feb. 9. In addition, first-year player Damoni Tucker is no longer listed on the roster. 

If Kulesza cannot play, the Minutewomen will likely rely on Alexzeya Brooks, Makennah White and Michelle Pruitt to come off the bench with Natousha Harden (three games) and Aisha Dabo (zero games) having rarely seen action this season.

With slightly more reinforcements than last season’s tournament, foul trouble or injury to the starting five could still prove detrimental for UMass. 

The Minutewomen enter the tournament on a two-game winning streak, including a win over VCU. UMass is scheduled to begin tournament play against the winner of Fordham and Saint Louis/George Mason at 7:30 p.m. on March 4. 

Fordham looks to rebound after surprising conference season

Fordham enters the tournament as a 6-seed, its lowest seeding since 2016 (also a 6-seed) after being a top-three seed each of the last four seasons and being selected to finish third in the conference’s preseason poll.

The Rams started off conference play unsteady, losing to La Salle 71-62 after its first two A-10 matchups were postponed. But they were able to win seven of their next eight games before losing their footing once again. 

Fordham is heading to the tournament limping, having won just one of its last five games, snapping a four-game losing streak in their regular-season finale against Davidson on Feb. 26. 

“It’s a special group of seniors that makes this year’s success mean even more,” head coach  Stephanie Gaitley said after Fordham’s win Saturday afternoon. “We are looking forward to building off of this in the Atlantic 10 tournament.”

After returning most of its scoring from last season and adding Asiah Dingle from Stony Brook, who is currently averaging 14.1 points per game, the Rams are poised to make a run, with five players still on the roster that took part in the 2019 tournament title run. This tournament will serve as one last run at another title for five of its graduating student-athletes. 

The Rams are scheduled to play the winner of Saint Louis and Mason on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. 

VCU is looking to run it back 

After making history with its first conference tournament title last season, the 4-seeded VCU team is looking to be the first repeat champion since GW won in 2015 and 2016. Last season the Rams won four games in four days to win the title and after earning a double-bye into the quarterfinals, the team will only need to win three games in three days. 

The Rams entered the final week of the regular season on a six-game winning streak before falling to UMass and Richmond on Feb. 23 and Feb. 26. 

After losing to the Spiders, VCU head coach Beth O’Boyle said, “I love our team. I love our chances going into the A-10 [tournament] … We will bounce back and we will be ready for that A-10 tournament.” 

Taya Robinson and Sarah Te-Biasu led the Rams in the championship game with 19 points each last season and led the team this season in scoring with 15.6 and 12.9 points per game, respectively. The Rams will need both to play well to recreate the momentum VCU had earlier in the season and advance throughout the tournament. 

Robinson was part of the seven-win VCU team several years ago and will look to repeat as the A-10 Championship’s Most Outstanding Player as she tries to make a final run as a Ram. 

VCU is scheduled to play the winner of La Salle and GW/St. Bonaventure March 4 at 1:30 p.m. 

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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