Women’s Basketball to host Charlotte in WNIT

Freshman guard Kseniya Malashka averages 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Rams. Photo by Shayla Bailey

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball’s season will continue March 21 in the WNIT First Round when the Rams host Charlotte at the Siegel Center.

VCU (23-9, 13-3 Atlantic 10) won the A-10 regular season title via a tiebreaker with Fordham — beating the Bronx Rams head-to-head — earning an automatic bid to the WNIT tournament. But Fordham got the better of the Black and Gold March 10 in the A-10 Championship game, winning 62-47 and earning the bid to the NCAA tournament.

Coach Beth O’Boyle said playing in a postseason tournament is a “great accomplishment.”

“If you look at the season, [the team is] the co-champion of the A-10 — first time in school history,” O’Boyle said. “You get to the championship game. It’s so hard to get to a championship game. And obviously we wanted to play a little bit better against Fordham, but they earned their way to that. And I look at it again and we earned our way into the NIT.”

A season ago, the Rams finished with a 7-22. This season, they practically flipped that record.

“We’re excited to be playing in March,” O’Boyle said. “That’s every team’s goal, and that was a big step for us this year.”

Charlotte (18-12, 9-7 Conference USA) was the No. 7 seed in the C-USA tournament and fell in the quarterfinals to UAB 70-55.

“They’re a very athletic team,” O’Boyle said. “They get the ball in transition. They’re going to play a lot of man-to-man. They have a very talented guard, Jade Phillips. She can score in a variety of ways.”

Phillips leads the 49ers, averaging 13.4 points and 8.1 rebounds for Charlotte.

VCU will counter the 49ers star with a nationally ranked defense — the Rams are in the top five in scoring defense, 3-point defense and field goal percentage defense.

Sophomore guard Tera Reed leads the Rams, averaging 12.2 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Black and Gold. Sophomore forward Danielle Hammond holds the highest shooting percentage on the team, shooting 58.4 percent from the field.

The Rams will make their seventh all-time appearance in the WNIT and second under coach Beth O’Boyle.

O’Boyle — who was named the A-10 Women’s Coach of the Year — led the Rams to the 2016 WNIT tournament, but they fell to Virginia by two.

The furthest the Rams have made it in the WNIT was the third round in 2010 and 2012.

The Rams and 49ers tip off at 6 p.m. Thursday and the winner will play either Virginia Tech or Furman in the second round.

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