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       • The CAA looks to improve on its 58-45 record with nine contests scheduled for the week.

       • The CAA is ranked 10th among the nation’s 32 Division I conferences in women’s basketball according to the RPI report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News (through games of Dec. 21).  Towson leads the league with an RPI rating of 25, closely followed by VCU at 29.  Old Dominion improved to 43.  While UNC Wilmington jumped into the Top 100 at 99.

       • Ten of the league’s 12 teams own a winning percentage of .500 or better.

       • For the fourth straight week, the CAA has the top two scorers in the nation playing in the league. Drexel’s Gabriela Marginean and James Madison’s Dawn Evans steadied their spots this week as Marginean leads the nation averaging 26.4 points per game and Evans follows at #2 putting up 25.1 points per outing.


       • The CAA improved its record to 58-45 after going 12-5 on the week.  

       • Old Dominion’s 29 game home court winning streak at The Ted was spoiled this week as they fell in a close outing against nationally-ranked Tennessee on Thursday evening.     

Brittany Blackwell • UNC Wilmington
Raleigh, N.C./Cary Academy, So., Forward

UNC Wilmington sophomore forward Brittany Blackwell received CAA Player of the Week honors after averaging a double-double and leading the Seahawks to a pair of victories last week.  She averaged 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the two wins.  This is the second time this season that Blackwell has posted double-doubles in back-to-back games.  The sophomore shot 50 percent (9-of-18) from the floor and 78.9 percent (15-of-19) from the charity stripe.  She opened the week with a game-high 21 point, 11 rebound effort at Coastal Carolina and concluded the week with 12 points and career highs of 14 rebound and six assists against Hampton.
Quanitra Hollingsworth • VCU
Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge, Sr., Center
VCU senior center Quanitra Hollingsworth earned CAA Player of the Week honors after averaging 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals while leading the Rams to a 3-0 record on the week.  The all around great week started with a 12 point, six rebound performance in just 23 minutes of action against Morgan State and followed that up with a season-best 21 point, seven rebound effort in just 24 minutes in the win over Radford.  Hollingsworth finished the week with her fourth double-double of the season against N.C. Central with 19 points and 13 rebounds.        

Jylisa Williams • Georgia State
Atlanta, Ga./Stephenson, Fr., Guard

Georgia State freshman guard Jylisa Williams collected CAA Rookie of the Week honors after averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Panthers in three contests.  The rookie scored a personal-best and game-high 23 points to open the week with a win over Louisiana Lafayette on 61 percent shooting (11-of-18).  She also added six rebounds and three assists in the win.  Williams just missed a double-double in the win over Delaware State with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds.

  For the fourth straight week, the CAA has the top two scorers in the nation playing in the league.  Drexel’s Gabriela Marginean and James Madison’s Dawn Evans steadied their spots this week as Marginean leads the nation averaging 26.4 points per game and Evans follows at #2 putting up 25.1 points per outing.  UMBC’s Carlee Cassidy is the next closest player, who is ranked third, as she is netting 24.9 points per contest.  Evans is tied is ranked fourth in the nation in three-point field goals made per game as she is averaging 3.3 per game.  Also ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA statistic summaries is Hofstra’s Joelle Connelly and Old Dominion’s Tiffany Green in blocked shots per game stopping 3.0 per contest (8th).  Hofstra’s Jess Fuller is ranked 10th after shooting 61.7 percent from the field.  The Georgia State Panthers are fourth in the nation averaging 14.6 steals per match-up and rank third with a turnover margin of 9.63.  The Pride of Hofstra is ranked fourth in blocked shots per game (6.9 bpg) and Old Dominion follows at ninth (6.4 bpg).  Delaware’s defense is holdings its opponents to an average of 50.5 points per game, which is ranked eighth in the nation.   The Blue Hens are also ranked 10th holding their opponents to shooting 33.5 percent from the floor.  The Dragons of Drexel rank 10th holding their opponents to 23.7 percent shooting from long range and the Blue Hens follow at 11th (23.8).

CAA NO. 10 IN RPI RANKING: The CAA is ranked 10th among the nation’s 32 Division I conferences in women’s basketball according to the RPI report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News (through games of Dec. 21).  Towson leads the league with an RPI rating of 25, closely followed by VCU at 29.  Old Dominion improved to 43.  While UNC Wilmington jumped into the Top 100 at 99.

HOME SWEET HOME: Old Dominion’s 29 game winning streak on its home court was spoiled by #11/14 Tennessee on Dec. 18.  ODU was the only CAA team that did not lose a contest on its home court in 2007-08 and was hoping to continue that streak in 2008.  The Lady Monarchs were tied with Hartford for the nation’s longest home winning streaks at 29.

After the loss to then-ranked #24 Michigan State, the Lady Monarchs fell out of the Top 25 AP Poll on Dec. 1 and then out of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll on Dec. 2. This is the first time this since Nov. 20, 2007 that Old Dominion dropped below the Top 25, but continued to receive points.  Michigan State jumped to #21 with the win over the Lady Monarchs, but then fell out of the Top 25 after a loss to St. Bonaventure.  ODU is still receiving votes for the past four weeks, just short of the top 25.

CAA women’s basketball increased its television exposure with 25 games on the air in 2007-08.  All 12 teams made at least one television appearance.  The CAA women’s basketball semifinals (CN8) and championship (Comcast SportsNet) games were included in the 2007-08 season package.  The 25 games broadcast for CAA women’s basketball is an all-time best in the history of the league.  Heading into the season, 19 games are slated for the 2008-09 season for CAA women’s basketball.  The CAA will wrap up the week on TV as Old Dominion welcomes nationally-ranked Maryland on Sunday. 

GEORGE MASON HIRES JERI PORTER AS NEW HEAD COACH:  George Mason will be the only CAA team with a new head coach this season as Jeri Porter replaces Debbie Taneyhill. Porter was the head coach at Radford for the past six seasons, where she guided the Highlanders to a 93-85 overall record.  Prior to that, she spent four years at the helm of the North Alabama program finishing with a 64-43 mark.

Old Dominion edged VCU, 71-64, in another thrilling title game to capture its NCAA-record 17th consecutive CAA championship in 2008.  The Lady Monarchs have never lost a CAA tournament game since joining the league back in 1991-92.  With the win, ODU advanced to its 25th NCAA Tournament, which is tied with Louisiana Tech for the second-most appearances in Division I behind only Tennessee. The Lady Monarchs have won 20 or more games during all 17 seasons as a CAA member.

Drexel forward Gabriela Marginean collected the 1,000th point of her career against Towson on Feb. 28, 2008 and tied ODU’s Clarisse Machanguana for the fastest in the CAA to reach the career milestone in just 58 games.

Four CAA teams were among the top 25 most improved squads in Division I women’s basketball in 2007-08.  Northeastern topped the league with a 10-game turnaround, going 14-16 last year in the second season under coach Daynia La-Force Mann after going 4-26 in 2006-07. UNC Wilmington (9), Drexel (8.5), and VCU (7) also ranked among the top 25 most improved squads.

WINNING BIG & SETTING RECORDS: Four CAA teams completed the 2007-08 season with 22 or more victories.  Over the past three seasons, 12 CAA squads have eclipsed the 22-win total.  Old Dominion finished last season with 31 victories, the most wins since 1996-97 when the Lady Monarchs won 35 contests. ODU was followed by VCU’s school-record 26 wins, James Madison’s 24 and Towson’s school-record 22 victories.

POSTSEASON SUCCESS IN THE NCAA: Old Dominion captured its 17th straight CAA title, danced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 31-5 record in 2007-08. It was the Lady Monarchs’ best record since the 1996-97 season when they advanced to the national championship game.  ODU, which was seeded fifth in the Greensboro Regional, reached the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002 by defeating Liberty and Virginia before falling to Connecticut in the Regional semifinals. Four of the Lady Monarchs’ five losses came against teams that reached the 2008 Final Four (Connecticut, Stanford, Tennessee).  The Lady Monarchs spent 18 weeks in the Top 25 polls and finished the season ranked 10th.

James Madison and VCU were selected to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, making it the third consecutive season that at least three CAA teams continued in the postseason.  JMU received an automatic bid to the WNIT and VCU earned a postseason berth for just the second time in school history with an at-large bid to the WNIT.  The Dukes reached the third round with a win over Radford at home and an overtime victory at Indiana.  VCU defeated Charlotte on the road for their first postseason victory since 1995.  It was the first time in CAA history that two different teams won WNIT games in the same season.

DELAWARE (5-3, 0-0 CAA)

The Blue Hens defeated UMass, 56-42, on the road in their only contest this week. Sophomore guard Tesia Harris scored a team-leading 13 points and sophomore forward Ariene Jenkins nearly posted her second straight double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.  Delaware (5-3) held UMass (5-5) to 21.2 points below its season average (63.2), as the Minutewomen made just 16-59 from the field and 5-23 from three-point range. The Blue Hens also forced 24 UMass turnovers which they scored 19 points off of on the night.  With the win, Delaware is 2-0 against Atlantic 10 teams and it has already surpassed its win total from last season (4).  The Blue Hens are off until Dec. 22 when they go on the road to take on the Big East’s Villanova.

DREXEL (4-4, 0-0 CAA)

Drexel defeated Penn on the road Friday afternoon, 62-52.  Freshman Kamile Nacickaite dropped in a career-high 17 points and fellow rookie Marisa Crane hit for personal bests with eight points, a game-high five assists and four rebounds as the Dragons received a balanced scoring effort in the victory.  Junior forward Gabriela Marginean led Drexel with 21 points and nine rebounds despite being limited by foul trouble. Drexel snared a season-high 12 steals in the victory over Penn. The Dragons held Penn scoreless for just under 10 minutes spanning the end of the first half and the opening minutes of the second. Drexel used a 21-1 run spanning the end of the first and beginning of the second half to pull away for its first win over Penn at the Palestra since 1992.  Marginean entered the week as the leading scorer in the NCAA, averaging 27.1 points per game. She has reached the 30-point mark in four of the team’s seven games this season and has five 30-plus-point performances in her career, which is more than any player in Drexel history.  She also leads the team in field-goal, free-throw and three-point percentage, rebounding and steals.  Marginean was just recently named to the Naismith Watch List.  Drexel hosts Richmond on Monday afternoon in the first meeting ever between the two teams. Associate Head Coach Amy Mallon starred at Richmond for two seasons before transferring to Saint Joseph’s. While with the Spiders, Mallon led the team to back-to-back CAA Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 1990 and 1991. She was named All-CAA in both seasons.  The Dragons will play in the Saint Joseph’s Hawk Classic on Sunday and Monday where they will face Holy Cross and Maine.


Mason returned to action following a two-week break for exams and after a shaky first half against Howard on Sunday afternoon, the Patriots exploded for a 20-2 run to capture their first victory of the season, 64-42. The Patriots took control of the game with 62.5 percent field goal shooting in the second half (15-of-24) to deny the Bison (0-9) their first win of the year. Mason saw three players score in double figures, led by 18 points from junior Rashauna Hobbs. Sophomore Eugenia Broadus tallied a double-double as she pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds to go with 16 points.  As Mason opened up a lead as large as 22 to end the game, the Patriots allowed just one Howard field goal over the final 9:40, using staunch defense to cruise to their first victory since Feb. 10, 2008.  The 48 points scored by the Patriots in the second half was their highest half of production since the 51-point output at Georgia State on Feb. 24, 2006 in the second half. Mason will look to make it two in a row when, following a nine-day break for the holidays, the Patriots open up a three-game homestand when they host Appalachian State on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.


Georgia State opened the week with a 68-58 victory over Louisiana Lafayette in the first contest of the UAB Blazer Invitational, but then fell to host UAB, 72-63, in the championship contest on Tuesday.  The Panthers returned to the winning track as they picked up a 55-50 win at home over Delaware State on Sunday. On Monday, freshman guard Jylisa Williams poured in 23 points from the outside and junior forward Dana Olsen sent home 20 points down low, while junior forward Danyiell McKeller had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to pace the offense.  The Panther defense kept their streak alive of having at least 10 steals in every game this season. They forced 23 Ragin’ Cajun turnovers today.  Olsen (9-of-16) and McKeller (7-of-13) were strong and steady in the paint.  On Tuesday against UAB, scrappy Georgia State battled back to within four points at 67-63 with 25 seconds left, but UAB continued to make free throws to earn the win and end State’s three-game winning streak.  Georgia State senior guard Brittany Hollins, a career 1,000-point scorer, had a career-best 26 points and 10 rebounds to top her previous best of 25 points. Hollins had 18 points in a second-half rally that saw State rally from a 15-point deficit. McKeller had 10 rebounds and five points. Freshman point guard Crystal Johnson had seven assists and seven points.  Williams and McKeller were named to the All-Tournament team.  On Sunday, Williams led the stat sheet with 17 points and nine rebounds. Hollins added nine points and eight rebounds, with Olsen chipping in with nine more points and five rebounds.  Chandra Harris added eight rebounds and seven points off the bench, while Brittany Graham added a pair of three-point baskets. State has won four of its last five games to head into its 15th annual holiday invitational tournament on Dec. 29-30 in Atlanta, where Panthers are 3-0 this year with no team scoring more than 50 points.  Tournament field includes Atlantic 10 team (Rhode Island), Southland team (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) and SWAC team (Mississippi Valley State).

HOFSTRA (5-3, 0-0 CAA)

Hofstra improved to 5-3 with a 68-58 home win over Rice on Friday evening.  The Pride was led by Jess Fuller’s 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. She led an offense that featured four double-figure scorers. Natty Fripp complemented Fuller’s low-post game, adding 14 points and eight rebounds. Sam Brigham poured in 11 points on 5-7 shooting and freshman Nicole Capurso hit two three-pointers as part of a 12-point effort.  Senior guard Niki Williams started in place of sophomore guard Candice Bellocchio and contributed three points, three rebounds and a game-high tying six assists in the win.  Bellocchio is out indefinitely with a hand injury. The Pride’s defense clamped down in the second half, holding the Owls to just 4-27 shooting from the field. The win improved Hofstra to 44-4 (2-0 this season) in its last 48 games when holding their opponent under 60 points.  After winning just five games all last season, the Pride has already equaled its win total from a season ago, just eight contests into the 2008-09 campaign.  Hofstra will look to add to its four-game win streak on Monday when they host St. Francis (NY) in a rare weekday matinee at 2 p.m.


James Madison won back-to-back games for the first time this season with home victories over UMBC and Bucknell. Against UMBC, sophomore guard Dawn Evans, who was recently named to the Naismith Watch List, scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Dukes to a 104-63 women’s basketball win over UMBC.  She was joined in double figures by sophomore center Lauren Jimenez with 17, redshirt junior guard Sarah Williams with 15 and freshman guard Brittany Crowell with a career-high 14. Dukes redshirt senior forward Nina Uqdah finished with a game-high 10 rebounds, Crowell had a career-high eight boards and sophomore forward/center Jalissa Taylor grabbed seven rebounds.  JMU sophomore guard Courtney Hamner handed out a game- and career-high seven assists.  JMU’s 104 points was the second-most scored at the JMU Convocation Center behind the school-record 107 scored in a 107-48 win over North Carolina Wilmington on Feb. 28, 1987.  The 104 points tied for the third-highest scoring game in school history.  On Sunday, Evans led all players with 19 points and handed out a game-high eight assists.  Hamner finished with a career-high 17 points, Williams added 14, and sophomore center Lauren Jimenez scored 10. Senior forward Kisha Stokes grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.  Redshirt senior forward Nina Uqdah blocked four shots last week, increasing her career total to 83 and moving into sole possession of fifth place on JMU’s career list.  The Dukes are on the road for their next three contests, starting with St. Francis (N.Y.) on Dec. 28.  They will also travel to Siena on Dec. 30 and will open conference play on Jan. 4 at George Mason.


The Seahawks snapped a three game losing streak with a 56-51 road victory over Coastal Carolina on Thursday and followed that performance with a win over Hampton, 69-57, on Sunday.  Against Coastal Carolina, sophomore forward Brittany Blackwell scored a game-high 21 points and added 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.  Blackwell was joined in double figures by junior Greta Luksyte, who chipped in 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The duo teamed up to score 36 of the team’s 56 points as no other UNCW scored more than five points in the contest.  Blackwell and Luksyte also teamed up to make 15-of-19 free-throw attempts as the Seahawks shot an impressive 81.5 percent from the free-throw line in the contest.  The duo combined to score 20 of the team’s 27 points in the first half as Luksyte posted a game-high 11 and Blackwell chipped in nine during the opening 20 minutes.  On Sunday, junior guard Whitney Simmons’ season-high 18 points led Seahawks as she converted 5-of-8 attempts from the field and was perfect from the charity stripe, going 8-for-8. Joining Simmons in double digit scoring were senior Sahsha Taylor and Blackwell, each with 12, and Luksyte with 10. Blackwell, who also recorded a game-high six assists, fashioned her fourth double-double of the season by hauling in a career-high 14 rebounds. It is the second time this season that UNCW has failed to make a three-pointer in a contest.  The Seahawks used just their second different starting lineup of the season as junior Casey Sawhook made her first start since the 2006-07 season at point guard. UNCW returns to action after a nine-day break for the Christmas holiday on Dec. 30 with a 7 p.m. contest at Western Carolina. The Seahawks will also face Atlantic Coast Conference member Wake Forest New Year’s Day at 1 p.m.


Northeastern completed a four-game roadstand with an 80-51 loss at Massachusetts on Saturday.  Northeastern was led by Brittany Wilson who had 10 points, team-high nine boards, and three blocks. Fellow freshman Kashaia Cannon added a team-high 13 points, while Kendra Walton chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds.  The Huskies return home for a contest against Holy Cross on Dec. 22 and after a break for the holiday, NU will host Delaware State on Dec. 28.


Old Dominion fell to a pair of Top 25 teams at home with an 81-76 loss to #11/13 Tennessee and 74-65 setback to #15/16 Maryland.  Against the Lady Vols, Old Dominion saw its 29-game homecourt win streak come to a close.  The Lady Monarchs were tied along with Hartford for the nation’s longest active home win streak. The win streak dated back to the Dec. 30, 2006, 72-55, victory over national runner-up Rutgers. ODU’s previous last home loss at the Ted Constant Convocation Center was also against Tennessee, 59-75, back on Dec. 22, 2006. Tennessee has broken several of ODU’s home court win streaks in the past. In addition to Thursday’s 29-game home game win streak snapped, the Lady Vols also halted the Lady Monarch’s 64-game home win streak in 1981, 33-game home win streak in 1999, and a 17-game home win streak in 1995.  The five-point, 81-76, defeat was the closest loss for the Lady Monarchs in the Lady Vol’s current 13-game win streak over Old Dominion. The next closest game was a 10-point, 68-58, setback back on Jan. 2nd, 2005. The game, which saw 12 lead changes and nine ties, had the Lady Monarchs leading as late as 1:57 in the game, holding on to a 71-70 edge. Tennessee led by no more than seven in the contest. Four Lady Monarchs scored in double figures led by senior Tiffany Green’s 17 points. Sophomore Jasmine Parker made her first career start as a Lady Monarch after coming off the bench her freshman year and in this season’s first seven games. Parker finished the game with 14 points going 4-of-5 from three-point range. With the loss to the Terrapins, Old Dominion fell in back-to-back games for the first time since dropping contests to top-ranked UConn (86-43) and #4 and national runner-up Stanford (69-61) during the Paradise Jam last Thanksgiving in St. Thomas. Additionally, the Lady Monarchs dropped back-to-back home games for the first time since falling three straight to Florida International (80-76) on December 21, 2005, #5 North Carolina in overtime (88-80) on December 29th, 2005 and top-ranked Tennessee (83-67) on January 2nd, 2006. Overall the Lady Monarchs own a 84-15 record over the last seven seasons at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Nine of the 15 losses have come at the hands of members of the Top 25. The Lady Monarchs closed out non-conference action at the Constant Center finishing the 2008-09 season at 3-2 at home against non-conference foes.  Green and junior Jessica Canady both performed double-doubles against the Terps. Canady collected 20 points and 11 boards for her third double-double of the 2008-09 season. It was also the third time this year the Chesapeake, Virginia native registered 20 or more points. Green poured in 10 points and 10 boards for her third double-double of the season and 21st of her career.  The Lady Monarchs are idle until Friday, January 2nd when they close out the non-conference schedule with a match-up at Mississippi.

TOWSON (7-1, 0-0 CAA)

Towson was idle last week and is now off till December 29 when they face Miami of Ohio at the State Farm Classic hosted by Florida.  Leading the Tigers is senior guard Shanae Baker-Brice as she is averaging 17.1 points per outing.  Teammates Omara Parker and Katrina Wheeler are posting 10.4 points per game and Wheeler leads the team pulling down 9.3 rebounds per outing.

VCU (8-2, 0-0 CAA)

VCU posted a 3-0 record this week with wins over Morgan State, Radford and North Carolina Central.  Senior Quanitra Hollingsworth was outstanding averaging 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, while shooting a blistering .667 from the field. Junior D’Andra Moss came off the bench and was stellar averaging a double-double for the week with 11.0 points and 10.3 rebounds in the three wins.  Junior Kita Waller and senior Radoslava Bachvarova were the other two Rams in double-figures for the week with 11.7 and 10.3 ppg, respectively. Freshman point guard Jennifer Lane posted back-to-back season-highs of seven assists in wins over Morgan State and Radford. The Rams have now won seven straight at the Siegel Center, while head coach Beth Cunningham is now just seven wins away from becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach. Against Morgan State, the Rams were led by Bachvarova’s 20-point performance on 8-of-14 shooting. Hollingsworth poured in 12 points, while Rorie chipped in 13 points and tied a career-high with nine rebounds.  Against Radford, Hollingsworth and Waller both scored at least 20 points to lead VCU.  Hollingsworth posted a season-high 21 points, while grabbing seven rebounds, two blocks and a career-best four steals. Waller notched her second career 20-plus point game with 20 points, along with five rebounds and three assists. Both players shot a jaw-dropping 8-for-10 from the field.  Freshman Courtney Hurt tallied a career-high seven points and Moss recorded her first double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  The Rams finished the week with a home victory over N.C. Central.  Double-doubles from Hollingsworth (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Moss (15 points, 12 rebounds) sparked VCU.  The frontcourt duo combined for 34 points and 25 rebounds, while rising sophomore Jessica Taylor chipped in 14 points and four steals in the victory.   The Rams will return to the hardwood on Dec. 28 when they host Longwood.


WILLIAM & MARY (5-4, 0-0 CAA)

William & Mary suffered a 73-59 loss at home to Hampton on Friday evening.  Junior Kelly Heath led the Tribe women’s basketball team Friday night with 12 points on 5-10 shooting from inside the arc and a pair of free throws.  As a team, the Tribe hit a season-high 80% of its attempts from the free-throw line. Junior Tiffany Benson was the second-leading scorer with nine points in only 14 minutes, and also had five rebounds and a pair of blocks in the contest. Freshman Janine Aldridge, making her first collegiate start, drained each of her last three shots and four overall for eight points. Senior Dani Kell and junior Lauren Aadland each finished with six points and a team-high seven rebounds, with Aadland also contributing three blocks and Kell a pair.  Redshirt-freshman Aleia Gland, who pulled down four rebounds, two on each end of the floor, and was on-the-mark with her only shot of the night in 11 minutes of action.  The Tribe will return to action at the St. Peter’s College Holiday Classic as they take on host St. Peter’s on Dec. 29, followed by a contest against New Jersey Institute of Technology on Dec. 30.