Preview: Women’s basketball at Richmond

Media Credit: File photo by Eric Lee | Photographer

Sophomore forward Neila Luma faces off against a St. Bonaventure player during Sunday's home game.

Who: Women’s basketball
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Va.
When: Saturday, March 2 at 11 a.m.

Women’s basketball (10-18, 7-8 A-10) hits the road to take on Richmond (8-20, 5-10 A-10) for the first time this year in both teams’ Atlantic 10 regular season finales.

Both teams enter the competition coming off a mid-week loss. The Colonials are coming off of a 53–64 loss to Duquesne Wednesday, while the Spiders suffered a 64–38 beating by Massachusetts Wednesday.

The two teams wrapped up the regular season together last year as well – when the Spiders claimed a 49–36 win over the Colonials at the Smith Center.

If the Colonials win Saturday and conference-leading Fordham defeats Saint Joseph’s later in the day, GW will secure home-court advantage in the first leg of the A-10 Championship. Currently 11th in A-10 standings, Richmond is not in position to host a tournament game, but a win will help the Spiders avoid facing one of the top teams in the conference in the first round.  

Case for the Colonials:

The Colonials have been without senior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista for the last two matches due to a concussion, but an increasingly balanced offensive attack gives the Colonials hope for a potential postseason run.

While GW owns the third-best defense in the A-10, surrendering just 57.3 points per game, the Spiders have also struggled to score this year. Richmond scores an average of 52.1 points per game while shooting 26.4 percent from three-point range, second worst in the conference.

The emergence of a more balanced Colonials team has coincided with the breakout of freshman center Kayla Mokwuah. She has been a mainstay in the starting lineup for head coach Jennifer Rizzotti ever since her 16-point performance in a 41–38 loss to Saint Joseph’s Feb. 10. GW has averaged 57.2 points per game with Mokwuah in the starting five.

Three Colonials have reached double digit scoring in each of the last three contests, vital for a team without a clear number-one scorer. Multiple players, such as Mokwuah and senior forward Kelsi Mahoney, are heating up just in time for the final stretch of the season. If the Colonials can continue producing points up and down their roster, they have a shot of overwhelming the Spiders on their home turf.

Case for the Spiders:

Head coach Michael Shafer oversees a Richmond team that has struggled for wins this season, but the Spiders can take solace in their record at home. The Spiders are 4–3 when playing at the Robins Center this season, which will give them an edge against GW.

The Spiders are led by sophomore guard Alex Parsons and junior forward Jaide Hinds-Clarke. Parsons tops the team with an average 10.7 points per game, including an 83.3 percent free throw accuracy. Hinds-Clarke dominates the paint for Richmond, posting 10.4 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting. She also leads the team with 7.9 rebounds per game. If the Spiders can rattle Mokwuah under the basket early on, Hinds-Clarke could pave the way to an upset.

While Richmond has had scoring problems this season, the only A-10 team that scores less than the Spiders is GW. The Colonials average 51.5 points per game, and with Bautista potentially sitting out again, Richmond has a chance to grind out a win.

Bottom line:

Although Richmond has been stronger at home, the Colonials’ offense should be too strong for the Spiders Saturday, even without Bautista. Richmond heads into the contest having lost three out of its last four contests.

As long as Mokwuah and sophomore forward Neila Luma can shut Hinds-Clarke down inside, the Colonials should have no problem beating the Spiders and putting their hat in the ring for home-court advantage.

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