**Complete Report in PDF format located at the bottom of this release**
THIS WEEK’S QUICK HITS:
• The CAA looks to improve on its 69-49 record with 11 non-conference contests scheduled for the week.
• CAA play starts on Sunday, Jan. 4 with 10 teams in action. VCU will visit Old Dominion on Monday, Jan. 5 to kick off their conference schedules.
• The CAA dropped to 11th 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. 28). Towson leads the league with an RPI rating of 25, closely followed by VCU at 31. Old Dominion is ranked at 48. While UNC Wilmington steadied in the Top 100 at 94.
• Nine 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.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Tesia Harris • Delaware
Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West, So., Guard
Delaware sophomore guard Tesia Harris earned CAA Player of the Week honors after helping the Blue Hens to a pair of victories last week, including wins over Villanova and Stony Brook. The sophomore averaged 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Harris shot 45.5 percent from the floor (10-of-22), 50 percent from long range (2-of-4) and 60 percent from the free throw line (3-of-5). The sophomore also contributed three blocks and team highs of six assists and four steals.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Nicole Capurso • Hofstra
Staten Island, N.Y./St. John Villa Academy, Fr., Guard
Hofstra freshman guard Nicole Capurso received CAA Rookie of the Week honors after pouring in a team and season-high 20 points to lead the Pride to a 24-point victory over St. Francis (NY). The rookie almost single-handedly helped Hofstra jump out to a 19 point halftime advantage as she scored 16 of her points in the opening twenty minutes to allow the Pride to open the double digit halftime lead. Capurso was 8-of-17 from the field in the contest, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. She also added four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 26 minutes of action.
NCAA STAT LEADERS (THROUGH GAMES OF DEC. 21): 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. 11 IN RPI RANKING: The CAA dropped to 11th 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. 28). Towson leads the league with an RPI rating of 25, closely followed by VCU at 31. Old Dominion is ranked at 48. While UNC Wilmington steadied in the Top 100 at 94.
TV EXPOSURE: 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.
CAA TEAMS UP WITH GIRL SCOUTS: For the 15th consecutive year, the CAA and Girl Scouts of the USA are teaming up for the “Be Your Best” partnership. Each CAA institution has designated a women’s basketball game this season as “Girl Scout Appreciation Day”, with the goal of teaching girls the many benefits that can be gained from participating in sports. Girl Scouts are invited to attend the games and cheer for their favorite CAA team. A variety of activities is planned in conjunction with the games, including autograph sessions with players, instructional clinics with coaches and spirit contests. To receive the special admission, Girl Scouts must wear their uniforms (i.e., t-shirt or sweatshirt, pins) to the game.
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.
LADY MONARCHS FALL OUT OF AP & USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES’ POLLS: 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.
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.
ODU CAPTURES 17TH STRAIGHT CAA TITLE: 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’S MARGINEAN TIES FASTEST PLAYER TO REACH 1,000 POINTS: 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.
MOST IMPROVED SQUADS: 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.
POSTSEASON SUCCESS IN THE WNIT: 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 (8-3, 0-0 CAA)
Delaware won its fourth and fifth straight win as they defeated Big East’s Villanova, 52-49, and Stony Brook, 70-43, last week. The Blue Hens then advanced to the championship game of the Loyola Marymount Tournament on Monday to win the tournament with a 66-60 victory over host Loyola Marymount. Last week, Vanessa Kabongo led the team averaging 13.0 points per game. Teammate Tesia Harris averaged 12.5 points per outing and 8.0 rebounds per contest. She also contributed six assists, three blocks and four steals. In the win over Villanova, sophomore forward Ariene Jenkins posted her second double-double of the year and Harris (12 pts, nine rebounds) had her sixth double-digit scoring performance to lead the Blue Hens. Delaware was without its second-leading rebounder in freshman forward Danielle Parker for the first time after she suffered a season-ending torn ACL and meniscus injury. Jenkins led the way with a career high 14, Harris pitched in nine, and Parker’s replacement in the starting line-up, Eva Riddick, pulled down six. On Sunday’s LMU Tournament opener, the Blue Hens where led by four scorers who posted double-figures. With this win, Delaware is on a five game win streak and has equaled its win total (seven) from last season. Delaware got contributions from all ten players that dressed, and nine out of the 10 got into the scoring column. Four Blue Hens scored in double-figures and they were Kabongo (17 points, 3 assists), junior guard Corinthia Benison (11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals), Harris (13 points, 5 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal) and freshman guard Jocelyn Bailey (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals). On Monday, Harris led the Blue Hens with game highs of 21 points and four steals in the win over Loyola Marymount. Kabongo (14) and Bailey (10) also added double-figure points. Jenkins pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. The Blue Hens will open their CAA schedule with a home contest against Drexel on Jan. 4.
DREXEL (5-6, 0-0 CAA)
Drexel fell in a pair of outings last week with a 73-60 loss to Richmond and a 63-58 loss to Holy Cross in the opening contest of the St. Joseph’s Hawk Classic. The Dragons were led by junior Gabriela Marginean led the team pouring in 25.0 points per game and pulling down 8.0 rebounds per outing. The junior shot an impressive 91.3 percent (21-29) from the free throw line. Jasmina Rosseel added 15.5 points per outing and freshman Kamile Nacickaite averaged 13.0 points per contest. Against Richmond, Marginean scored a career-tying four three pointers to help reach 28 points, while Nacickaite chipped in with 14 points and a personal high nine rebounds. In the loss to HC, Marginean scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds of the game on a charging call. Rosseel posted career-highs of 19 points and eight rebounds, including five three-pointers, but the Dragons fell just short in the opening game of the Saint Joseph’s Hawk Classic at Philadelphia University. The Dragons returned to the win column with an 87-55 victory over Maine on Monday evening. Marginean led all scorers with 23 points. Andrea Peterson put in a season-high 12 and matched her career high with four steals. Nacickaite reached double-figures for a third straight game with 16 points on four three-pointers. Marginean matched the tournament record, which she set yesterday, by making all 14 of her free-throw attempts. The win improves Drexel’s record to 5-6 in non-conference play this season as the Dragons open their CAA slate next weekend at Delaware.
GEORGE MASON (1-8, 0-0 CAA)
Mason was idle last week, but will return to the court for a three-game homestand when they host Appalachian State on Dec. 30. The Patriots will host James Madison in the opening weekend of CAA action on Sunday, Jan. 4
GEORGIA STATE (5-3, 0-0 CAA)
Georgia State was idle last week, but returned to action when they hosted its 15th annual holiday invitational tournament. Georgia State advanced to the championship game of the 15th annual Georgia State Invitational with a 70-60 win over Mississippi Valley State. The host Panthers will meet Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday. Georgia State won for the fifth time in its last six games with its pressure defense that was No. 4 in the nation in steals going into today’s game. The aggressive Panthers added 20 steals in today’s win and forced 31 Mississippi Valley State turnovers. Junior forward Danyiell McKeller led three Panthers in double-figures with her 16 points, all in the first half. Freshman point guard Crystal Johnson had 15 points and six assists, while freshman two-guard Jylisa Williams added 13 more points, nine steals, eight rebounds and six assists.
HOFSTRA (6-3, 0-0 CAA)
Hofstra extended its winning streak to five games with a 70-46 home victory over St. Francis (N.Y.) on Monday, Dec. 22 and then extended it to six games with a win over NJIT on Dec. 29. Against the Terriers, freshman guard Nicole Capurso scored a season-high 20 points, helping Hofstra surge to a large first-half lead it would not relinquish the victory. Capurso shot 8-17 from the field and junior center Jess Fuller poured in 10 points in the non-conference game as the Pride extended its winning streak to five in improving to 6-3. Fuller scored in double figures for the sixth time this season, while Hofstra has already exceeded last season’s win total before the start of the new year. Senior guard Niki Williams continued to step up in the absence of injured sophomore guard Candice Bellocchio, racking up five assists and three rebounds. Freshman guard Asia Jenkins came off the bench for the Pride, scoring two points and logging two rebounds in 11 minutes in her NCAA debut. It was the first game in which the University of Cincinnati transfer was eligible to play for Hofstra. The Pride picked up their sixth straight win with a 60-43 victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology in the opening contest of the Saint Peter’s College Holiday Classic on Monday evening. Fuller had 14 points and five rebounds and freshman forward Joelle Connelly added 11 points and nine rebounds. Hofstra also improves to 46-4 in its last 50 games when holding its opponent under 60 points, including a perfect 4-0 this season. Hofstra will face host Saint Peter’s on Tuesday.
JAMES MADISON (6-4, 0-0 CAA)
James Madison picked up its first road win with a 72-53 win over St. Francis (NY) on Sunday evening. The Dukes’ win over the Terriers gave them their third straight victory. Sophomore center Lauren Jimenez had career highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Other double figure scorers for the Dukes were Evans with 17 and freshman guard Brittany Crowell with 11. Senior forward Kisha Stokes and redshirt senior forward Nina Uqdah each had eight rebounds. Evans had a game-high seven assists. The Dukes will continue its three-game roadstand when they travel to Siena on Dec. 30 and will open conference play on Jan. 4 at George Mason.
UNC WILMINGTON (6-3, 0-0 CAA)
The Seahawks were idle last week and will return 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. To close out the three-game week, UNC Wilmington will host Georgia State on Sunday, Jan. 4 to open conference play.
NORTHEASTERN (3-7, 0-0 CAA)
Northeastern earned its third win of the season with a 66-47 win over Holy Cross at home Monday, Dec. 22, but then fell to Delaware State, 61-38, on Sunday. Against Holy Cross, Northeastern was piloted by Jasmine Crew’s game-high 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Kim Carr posted a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds), while freshman Brittany Wilson chipped in with eight boards, four points, and four assists. Northeastern’s defense held Holy Cross to 29.2 percent shooting from the field and forced 21 Crusader turnovers. The Huskies outrebounded Holy Cross 39-22, 18 of which were offensive rebounds. On Sunday, freshman Kashaia Cannon was the lone Husky to score in double digits (10) for Northeastern. Jasmine Crew added eight points, four rebounds and four assists while Ashlee Feldman contributed nine points, four boards and two steals. The Huskies’ next contest will be on Jan. 4 when they open their CAA schedule. NU will travel to Hofstra for the season opener in conference play.
OLD DOMINION (5-4, 0-0 CAA)
Old Dominion was idle last week and returns to the hardwood at Mississippi on Friday, January 2nd, closing out the non-conference portion of its schedule. The Lady Monarchs, which dropped back-to-back games for the first time since November of last season with losses against #11/13 Tennessee and #15/16 Maryland, will look to return to the win column and snap a two-game losing streak. It will be the fourth meeting between the Lady Monarchs and Lady Rebels, with Old Dominion leading the all-time series, 2-1. The teams last met in 1989 with Ole Miss emerging with a 74-58 second round NCAA Tournament victory. Following its meeting with the Lady Rebels, the Lady Monarchs begin the conference slate hosting Virginia Commonwealth on Monday, January 5th in a rematch of last season’s CAA Tournament Championship Game. Old Dominion, which has won 17 consecutive CAA titles, holds a 161-2 record at home against conference foes and has won 34 consecutive CAA home games.
TOWSON (7-2, 0-0 CAA)
Towson was idle last week and returned to the court on Monday, Dec. 29 when they faced Miami of Ohio at the State Farm Classic hosted by Florida. The Tigers fell short in just their second game of the season by one point. Towson fell to Miami (Ohio), 69-68, on Monday evening. Miami’s Courtney Reed hit a pair of foul shots with three seconds remaining to lift Miami (Ohio) to a 69-68 come from behind victory over the Towson basketball team in the first round of the State Farm Classic hosted by the University of Florida. The Tigers will enxt face Vermont on Tuesday. Towson led 42-29 coming out of the locker room at half time but Miami (Ohio) seemed to have the hot hand to start the second stanza. Towson was led by the inside play of junior forward Katrina Wheeler and junior forward Kandace Davis. Wheeler finished with a team-high 15 points and six rebounds, while Davis posted her third double-double of the year with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Dovile Miliauskaite had a season-high nine points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Shanae Baker-Brice also finished with nine points and seven assists.
VCU (9-2, 0-0 CAA)
VCU improved to 9-2 with a 79-49 victory at home over Longwood on Sunday, Dec. 28. The win marks the fifth straight overall and eighth straight home victory. Kita Waller, Radoslava Bachvarova, La’Tavia Rorie and Jessica Taylor all finished with 10 points to lead the offensive attack that shot close to 45% on the afternoon. Joining the quartet of 10-points scorers was senior center Quanitra Hollingsworth with nine points and eight rebounds in only 19 minutes and freshman Jennifer Lane with seven points and four assists. The Rams will host American on Tuesday, Dec. 30, before visiting Old Dominion in their conference opener on Monday, Jan. 5.
WILLIAM & MARY (6-4, 0-0 CAA)
William & Mary was idle last week but returned to action on Monday, Dec. 29 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. On Monday evening, the Tribe picked up a 60-51 victory at the Holiday Classic. Tiffany Benson posted her fifth double-double of the season with game highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Janine Aldridge also reached double-digits in scoring, contributing 14 points on four field goals (two behind the arc) and a perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe. Aldridge also added five rebounds and four assists, and set or tied eight personal season-highs in the game. Senior Courtney Portell was the third Tribe player with 10 or more points, scoring 10 to go along with five rebounds and three steals Benson also tallied six blocks to leap up into a tie with Rebecca Dayvault ‘93 for the most career blocks in program history with 155.