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Courtesy: CAA
VCU's Courtney Hurt

CAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL WEEKLY REPORT - JAN. 16

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 01/16/2012
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**Full report in PDF Format with team notes located at the bottom of this article**
CAA 4-1-1:

        • Nationally-ranked Delaware and Hofstra are the only two teams still undefeated in conference play at 5-0, while VCU and Drexel are right behind at 4-1.

        • CAA squads went 77-54 in non-conference play. The CAA finished the non-conference slate with the fourth best NC strength of schedule.

        • UD's Elena Delle Donne (1st, 29.3 ppg), VCU's Courtney Hurt (5th, 23.4 ppg) and George Mason's Taleia Moton (12th, 20.5 ppg) rank in the Top 12 leading scorers in the nation. Hurt leads the nation in rebounding with 12.7 rpg. The Blue Hens also lead the nation in free-throw shooting (83.7%). Full listing on page 12 of this report.

        • Delaware, who finished the non-conference portion of its schedule at No. 1, fell to No. 8 in the latest RPI rankings report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News. The CAA is ranked seventh among the conferences with seven teams in the Top 89.

        • Delaware jumped to #16 in the AP Top 25 and Hofstra earned a pair of votes in the poll. Delaware was ranked at #18 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll last week. Four CAA  teams appear in the Mid-Major Top 25.

        • CAA Women's Basketball weekly conference calls will continue on Jan. 10 (full schedule on page 5).

        • Delaware was selected as the preseason CAA favorite to win the 2011-12 title. VCU followed along with James Madison and Hofstra to round out the top four.

        • Virginia 529 Women's Basketball Championship will return to The Show Place Arena in 2012 in Upper Marlboro, Md.


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:

Hollie Mershon • Drexel

Malvern, Pa./Archbishop Carroll, Jr., Guard

Mershon received CAA Player of the Week honors leading the Dragons to a 2-0 record on the week while scoring 21.5 points per game. The junior guard posted a career-high 27 points in the Dragons' win at James Madison, as they snapped the Dukes' 17-game home winning streak and earning their first regular season win over the Dukes in Harrisonburg, Va. Mershon shot 68.0 (17-25) percent from the field on the week. She also grabbed 5.5 rebounds per contest to go along with seven assists and one steal.  Mershon tied career highs with nine rebounds and six assists in the Dragons' win over Georgia State.    

Courtney Hurt • VCU

Conyers, Ga./Salem, Sr., Forward

Hurt earned CAA Player of the Week honors after leading the Rams to a 2-0 week with victories over Old Dominion and William & Mary. The senior forward poured in 25.0 points and 15.5 rebounds per contest for VCU in a pair of double-double performances. Hurt opened the week with 22 points and 16 boards against ODU, including five of the Rams' six points in overtime. The senior forward led all scorers with game highs of 28 points and 15 rebounds against the Tribe. She shot 57.1 (20-35) percent from the floor on the week to go along with six assists, three steals and one block. 

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK:

Toia Giggetts • James Madison

Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor, Fr., Forward

Giggetts collected CAA Rookie of the Week after helping the Dukes of James Madison to a 1-1 week in conference play. The rookie saw just four minutes against Drexel as she collected two rebounds and one assists. She then came out strong in 23 minutes of play against Towson recording career highs of 12 points and eight rebounds. She also shot 66.7 percent (4-6) from the field and went 4-4 from the line against the Tigers. The rookie finished the week shooting 57.1 (4-7) percent from the floor.

CAA AT NO. 7 IN RPI RANKING - SEVEN CAA SQUADS IN TOP 100, INCLUDING DELAWARE AT NO. 8 (Through Games of Jan. 15): The CAA is ranked seventh among the nation's 32 Division I conferences in women's basketball according to the RPI report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News. Delaware, which finished the non-conference season ranked at No. 1, fell to No. 8 in the team RPI ranking, as the first of seven CAA teams in the Top 100. Hofstra (30), James Madison (32), and Towson (42) are the only other CAA schools that are listed in the Top 50. Drexel (59), VCU (85) and UNCW (89) rounds out the CAA teams in the Top 100. 

CAA IN THE TOP 25: The Delaware Blue Hens jumped to #16 in the Jan. 16 AP poll after a pair of conference victories and stayed at #18 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Hens were awarded the #16 spot with 367 votes and #18 with 241 nods. For the third time in her tenure as head coach, Tina Martin's squad is receiving notice in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Delaware received notice in the AP Top 25 polls during the 2006-07 and 2009-10 campaigns. It's Delaware's first appearance in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll ever in school history. Hofstra earned a pair of votes in the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season.  The Pride earned votes for the first time since the 2006-07 season which they received votes for six straight weeks in the AP Poll. The 2006-07 season was the first time in Hofstra's program history that the Pride had received votes in either national poll.

FOUR CAA WBB TEAMS RANKED IN COLLEGEINSIDER.COM MID-MAJOR POLL (Jan. 10): Delaware stayed steady ranked second in the CollegeInsider.com Jan. 10 edition of the mid-major poll, while James Madison was steady at eighth, Hofstra improved to #14 and Towson stayed in the Top 25 at #23. Atop the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 is Green Bay, which received 30 first-place votes. The women's Mid-Major Top 25 is comprised of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast Conferences. The Mid-Major Top 25 will be released every Tuesday throughout the season.

CAA RECORD BOOK WATCH: Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, VCU's Courtney Hurt and Hofstra's Candice Bellocchio jumped into the CAA Record Book last week. Delle Donne entered the top 10 career lists with 1,770 career points (9th), 458 made career free throws (7th) and 157 blocks (10th) during her campaign at UD. Hurt entered the record book for field goals made with 625 (10th) as well as field goals attempted with 1,391 (8th). Bellocchio jumped into the top 10 career list for assists with 539 (9th). The complete watch is located on page 13 of this report.

NOTE WORTHY INDIVIDUAL STATS: UD's Elena Delle Donne (1st, 29.3 ppg), VCU's Courtney Hurt (5th, 23.4 ppg) and George Mason's Taleia Moton (12th, 20.5 ppg) rank in the Top 12 leading scorers in the nation as of games through Jan. 15. Hurt leads the nation in rebounding with 12.7 rpg. Hurt has recorded 45 career double-doubles and has the second longest active career mark in Division I Women's Basketball, just behind Callan Talyor (47) from Sacred Heart. Hofstra's Shante Evans follows Hurt with 42 (in three years) ranked tied for fourth and Old Dominion's Tia Lewis has tallied 35 career double-doubles tied for seventh. Delaware's Elena Delle Donne (32) and Evans (28) are among the current leaders for consecutive games scoring 10+ points. They are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, as Baylor's Brittney Griner leads all active DI WBB players with 57 straight games scoring 10+ points per game.

NATIONAL HONORS: Delaware's Elena Delle Donne was selected as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Women's National Player of the Week after helping the No. 20 ranked Blue Hens to a 2-0 week. Delle Donne was nearly unstoppable in a record-setting week as the Hens defeated Towson and George Mason. The 6-5 junior exploded for 37 points and became the school's all-time career scoring leader as the Blue Hens downed Towson. She broke the previous Delaware scoring record held by Cindy Johnson, who scored 1,675 points in 1997-01. Delle Donne set the record in just her 63rd career game while Johnson needed 113 games to reach the scoring mark. Johnson was on hand at the game to help celebrate the milestone. In Delaware's showdown with George Mason on Sunday, Delle Donne recorded her fourth double-double of the season by scoring a season high-tying 40 points (arena record for the Patriot Center) to go with 15 rebounds to help keep the Hens perfect in conference play.  Delle Donne was also honored as the ECAC Division I Player of the Week on Jan. 10.

HIGH-FLYING: The 100-97 win by Hofstra over William & Mary on January 8 was certainly one for the ages.  It easily broke Hofstra's program record for combined points in a game as the previous mark was 176 points (Hofstra 91, Delaware 85 on 2/12/06) for an overtime game and 175 (Hofstra 91, William & Mary 84 on 3/2/11) for a regulation game.  It is also the highest scoring regulation final in CAA Women's Basketball history and the second-highest combined score in CAA Women's Basketball history, only eclipsed by the 218 combined points between Richmond (114) and James Madison (104) in an overtime contest on January 9, 2000. The combined total points also shattered the previous Kaplan Arena mark set back on March 3, 1981 in the VAIAW D-II Quarterfinals when William & Mary defeated Hampton, 96-82.

THREE CAA PLAYERS NAMED TO NAISMITH WATCH LIST: The CAA is well represented on the 2011-12 Naismith Women's Basketball Player of the Year early-season watch list with Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, Hofstra's Shante Evans and VCU's Courtney Hurt making the line-up. In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.

UPSET CITY-NEWARK, DEL.: Delaware women's basketball squad pulled off the biggest upset in school history on Nov. 17 as the Blue Hens brought down No. 11/12 ranked Penn State with an 80-71 victory. Backed by another brilliant performance from All-American Elena Delle Donne (40pts/12 rbs), the Blue Hens made history by defeating their highest ranked opponent in school history. Delaware had knocked off a Top 25 team just two other times in school history in 28 previous tries, including an 86-70 win over No. 20 Kentucky during the 2006-07 season and a 77-67 victory over then No. 22 James Madison at the BCC on Feb. 22, 2007.


SETTING RECORDS: Junior All-American Elena Delle Donne exploded for 37 points to became the schools all-time career scoring leader (1,685) against Towson (J. 5). She passed Cindy Johnson (1,675, 1997-01). Delle Donne set the record in just her 63rd career game while Johnson needed 113 games to reach the scoring mark. In the upset of #11/12 Penn State, Elena Delle Donne scored 25 of her game-high 40 points in the second half as Delaware recovered from an eight-point deficit midway through the second half with a big final flurry. Her 40 points set a Bob Carpenter Center record and was the third highest total in school history, trailing only her school-record 54-point performance at James Madison on Feb. 18, 2010 and her 41-point explosion against Yale on Nov. 20, 2010. Her 40 point performance ties the CAA all-time 10th best single game mark. She tied her season-best 40 points against George Mason on January 8th. Joining Delle Donne on the CAA all-time list, is VCU's Courtney Hurt as she poured in a school-record 40 points against UMKC (N. 19).

TV EXPOSURE: The CAA is scheduled to see a record-best of at least 40 regular season games on television this season, plus three televised games during the CAA championship. All 12 teams will make at least one television appearance during the 2011-12 season. The CAA women's basketball television package has aired over 20 games for the last four seasons. The CAA also enjoyed a record amount of exposure through new media efforts.

2012 VIRGINIA 529 CAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: The 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Women's Basketball Championship will return to The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., for the second straight season. The 2011 outing was the first time that The Show Place Arena had served as host of the CAA women's championship. The Show Place was the first neutral site since 1998 for the CAA women's championship and the teams played in front of 7,727 fans during the four-day event.

EXTRA HONORS: CollegeSportsMadness.com has named VCU's Courtney Hurt a Madness High-Major Conference Player of the Week representing the CAA (Jan. 15). The senior forward led the Rams to a 2-0 week with victories over Old Dominion and William & Mary. Hurt recorded 25.0 points and 15.5 rebounds per contest for VCU in a pair of double-double performances.

CAA PRESEASON TEAM PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: Delaware, which returns five starters from last year's 20-14 team, is picked to win the 2012 CAA Women's Basketball title according to a vote of the league's head coaches. The results of the poll were announced during Tuesday's CAA Basketball Media Day at Champps-Pentagon Row in Arlington, Va. The Blue Hens were followed in the voting by VCU, James Madison and Hofstra. Drexel and Old Dominion tied for fifth, followed by UNCW, George Mason, William & Mary, Georgia State, Towson and Northeastern.

CAA PRESEASON INDIVIDUAL HONORS: Delaware's Elena Delle Donne was chosen as the CAA Preseason Player of the Year. She is joined on the preseason All-CAA first team by Hofstra's Shante Evans, VCU's Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour and Drexel's Kamile Nacickaite. Voted to the preseason All-CAA second team were UNCW's Alisha Andrews, Georgia State's Chan Harris, JMU's Hislop, Old Dominion's Tia Lewis and William & Mary's Taysha Pye.

OLD DOMINION WELCOMES KAREN BAREFOOT AS HEAD COACH: Former Lady Monarch assistant coach Karen Barefoot, who last season led Elon to its first ever Division I postseason appearance, was named Old Dominion's new head women's basketball coach on June 8, 2011. Barefoot became just the sixth head coach in Lady Monarch basketball history and first new hire since 1987. Barefoot, the school's first Native American head coaching hire, takes over a program that has reached postseason play in 19 of its last 20 years and has won 929 games, the third most all-time in women's basketball history. Barefoot, who hails from Newport News, Va., has a career head coaching record of 209-144, resulting in 11 winning seasons. Aside from Elon, Barefoot has also held the head coaching position at Division II Lenoir Rhyne College and at the Apprentice School.

HUNGRY FOR MORE: Nine of the 15 players who received all-conference honors in 2010-11 return this season. Back from the All-CAA first team are Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, Hofstra's Shante Evans and VCU's Courtney Hurt, who all earned All-America accolades. All but one of the All-CAA third team will return. The CAA teams also return 70% of their starters from a year ago.

RETURNING THREE ALL-AMERICA HONOREES IN 2011-12: The CAA welcomes back three Associated Press All-America honorees in Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, Hofstra's Shante Evans and VCU's Courtney Hurt. The trio joined former JMU all-star Dawn Evans in receiving Honorable Mention accolades in 2011.

REPRESENTING THE USA IN WOMEN'S HOOPS: CAA women's basketball standouts Elena Delle Donne of Delaware and Shante Evans of Hofstra were invited to participate in a pair of USA Basketball events. Delle Donne was selected for the 2011 USA World University Games Team and led her team to a gold medal in China in August 2011. VCU's Courtney Hurt also received an invite to the team trials with Delle Donne. The Delaware stand-out and All-American led the USA team averaging 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Red, White and Blue during six games. Evans was selected as a member of the USA Basketball Women's Pan American Games Team. She averaged 6.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during her four outings with the Pan American Games Team which went 2-2. 

SIX TEAMS DANCE IN POSTSEASON PLAY IN 2011: For the sixth consecutive season, at least three CAA teams advanced to the postseason and for the 11th consecutive season the CAA had a representative in the WNIT, as the CAA was just one of three conferences to see five teams in the WNIT. CAA champion James Madison was selected as the 11th-seed in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, while Delaware, Drexel, UNCW, Old Dominion, and VCU were invited to the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Southeastern and Atlantic 10 also saw five conference teams advance to the postseason WNIT event in 2011.

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