The Rams doubled their win total last week in Daytona Beach. They defeated American then Villanova. The Wildcats have 20 or more wins in each of the last four seasons. That victory could carry some weight down the road. Now VCU can put a three-game win streak together when they face off against Iona, who have lost their last three. The Gaels were champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season. That should not be terribly concerning for VCU. As far as conferences with Atlantic in the title go VCU’s is far better than Iona’s.
The Gaels are returning a home game after VCU traveled to New Rochelle, New York last season. Beth O’Boyle’s squad handled the MAAC school 74-58. Ashley Pegram and Keira Robinson each scored double digits. Robinson dished out 4 assists and stole the ball 4 times while recording no turnovers herself. Iona had 22 turnovers to VCU’s 9. Camille Calhoun had 16 points and 6 rebounds. Unfortunately, the redshirt junior suffered an injury against Minnesota and has not played since. Calhoun is a major factor for the Rams and they aren’t the same team without her on the floor. Former Ram turned Adaeze Alaeze led all scorers with 16 in that contest. With Calhoun injured and Alaeze out of eligibility and playing in the pros for Spain, VCU will need to find some extra production.
Bria Gibson has been asked to fill in most of the void Calhoun left behind. Gibson has started all 4 games after Calhoun’s injury and seen a major minutes increase. She is now playing over 20 minutes per game. The forward is averaging 8 points and 6 rebounds on the season. Coach O’Boyle would love if Gibson could replicate Calhoun’s 16 and 6 line from last season’s contest against Iona.
A Look at Iona
Iona’s leading scorer is a sophomore guard, Alexa Lewis. Through five games she is averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds. Lewis leads the team in both of those categories. Marina Lizarazu is another scorer in double figures with 16. Lizarazu is the best shooter on the team and has the most assists. She has a serious turnover issue, as do the rest of her teammates. As a whole, they are just under 20 turnovers per game. Lizarazu is responsible for 5 per game while only giving out 4 assists. That’s a ridiculous amount of turnovers for a team coming into a meeting with VCU. Those numbers have to improve for the Gaels to avenge last season’s loss. One more key player for Iona is their 6’4 forward Karynda Dupree. She has a very respectable per game line of 9 points and 7 rebounds. What could really make Dupree influential is her shot blocking ability. The senior already has 12 blocks inside the first month. If she can keep VCU out of the paint then the Gaels will find it much easier to get stops.
The last school that came to Richmond to return a home and home was IUPUI, that didn’t work out well for the Rams. On Wednesday VCU should split the returned home games. Even without Calhoun, O’Boyle’s squad should be too much for the Gaels. Barring a lights-out shooting performance from Iona, this is how IUPUI defeated the Rams, there is now reason to think VCU won’t force enough turnovers and steal enough possessions to get the victory. The Rams have played like the better team to this point in the season; expect that to continue on Wednesday afternoon.