Games to watch: Women’s hoops 2013-2014

Alonzo Small
Contributing Writer

Second-year women’s basketball head coach Marlene Stollings is faced with a tough task to begin the 2013-14 season. The inexperienced Lady Rams will be on the road for seven of their first eight games to start the year, and seven true freshmen will have to acclimate to collegiate basketball away from home.

The CT has analyzed the entirety of the women’s basketball schedule and highlighted some key match ups for Stollings’ team:

Dec. 30 – Old Dominion University

The Lady Rams’ last game of 2013 bring the Lady Monarchs to town. ODU has dominated the series through 70 games, only losing 14. Karen Barefoot’s club finished 19-12 last season and departed from the Colonial Athletic Association for Conference-USA on July 1. Gone is leading scorer Jackie Cook, but the Rams can turn to junior standout guard Ashley Betz-White for points and assists. Betz-White was the leading scorer in last year’s 74-51 defeat, scoring 17 points. Though they tend to dominate at home, the Lady Monarchs have been vulnerable on the road, going just .500 away from home last season. This will be an important matchup for a young VCU team getting its first taste of interstate rivalry.

Jan. 4 – @  Duquesne University

The first of two regular season conference games will be played away from Richmond on Jan. 4. Duquesne defeated VCU on two occasions last season, the latter being in the first round of the A-10 championship. The Lady Dukes advanced to the A-10 finals under head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio and made it to the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. McConnell-Serio’s departure for the University of Pittsburgh brings new head coach Dan Bort to the forefront. Bort returns three starters, including seniors Womi Agunbiad and Orsi Szecsi, and eight players altogether. The Lady Dukes finished tied for fourth in conference play (11-3) and an overall record of 24-8. Dusquesne is projected to finish third in the conference,  according to the preseason coaching polls

Jan. 12 – Saint Joseph’s  University 

The Lady Rams get the national spotlight in a televised game against defending A-10 tournament champions Saint Joseph’s University. The matchup is only the second time both schools have met as A-10 foes. VCU has won two out of three matchups in postseason play over the last three seasons. Head coach Cindy Griffin lost two of her three captains from last season (Ashley Prim and Shelby Smith), but still has A-10 most improved player Erin Shield on her roster. Shield was also named to All-Atlantic 10 second team. Junior Natasha Cloud returns after being named to the All-A-10 second team and All-Defensive team. VCU and SJU played a close game last year, which SJU won 55-50.

Feb. 5 – @ Dayton University

The second game of February pits the preseason favorite against the proverbial underdogs. Dayton finished last season with a perfect 14-0 conference record (28-3 overall), and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in its fourth consecutive appearance. Head coach Jim Jabir’s team was ranked No. 18 nationally at the end of the 2012-13 season and was voted into the AP Top-25 preseason poll for the first time. Dayton’s junior guard Andrea Hoover, who averaged a team-high 12.9 ppg last season, and junior forward Ally Mallott (10.7 ppg) return to the team as preseason first-team All-Conference picks, while sophomore guard Amber Deane (9.9 ppg) earned a second-team nod.

 

Feb. 26 – @ University of       Richmond

The intracity rivalry continues in the last game of the regular season schedule. Head coach Michael Shafer’s team has three freshmen, three sophomores, five juniors and three seniors. Returning for her senior campaign is guard Kristina King, who led the team in points per game (13.1), minutes per game (32.0), total steals (63) and free throws made (103).

The Spiders finished 7-8 in conference play last year with an overall record of 16-16. The Spiders defeated the Lady Rams last season 66-62. The win was Richmond’s fifth straight victory over the Lady Rams and their eighth out of the last 10 matchups overall.

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