The Rams rejuvenated their season with a four game win streak, now they sit at 13-10 and 6-4 in the A-10. That’s good enough for seventh in the league. Their last three wins came by a combined eight points, including a win over then first place Fordham. Beth O’Boyle’s group will face the current number one team in the conference, Dayton. The Flyers are 15-7 and 9-1 in the conference. They are winners of nine straight, their last loss was on December 29th against Virginia.
Under first year Head Coach, Shauna Green, the Flyers got off to a rough start going 6-7 in nonconference play. It’s apparent her team has figured out what it needs to do to win games. Dayton is one of the most efficient shooting teams in the league but they also rebound the ball better than most of the conference. VCU is in fourth place in rebounding margin, right behind Dayton. That mix of quality shooting and rebounding is way they are have the second best offense in the A-10. The Flyers score 67 points per contest, while shooting 39% from the field.
Green’s roster is filled with experienced players and plenty of size. Her five starters are all juniors and seniors, four of the five are 5-11 or taller. She has three players; Saicha Grant-Allen, JaVonna Layfield and Alex Harris who not only lead Dayton in rebounding but are all inside the top 12 of A-10 rebounders. Each averaging more than seven rebounds, they’re also capable scorers with over 22 points per game between them. Grant-Allen and Harris both rank among the top 10 shot blockers in the league. Harris averages 1.7 and Grant-Allen averages 1.2.
The Flyers have a talented front court but the two leading scorers on the squad are guards, Jenna Burdette and Kelly Austria. Burdette is a high scoring junior guard, who averages 12 points and almost 5 assists. She gets to the free throw line more than any of her teammates and converts on 77% of her tries. Redshirt Senior, Kelly Austria is right behind Burdette in scoring, averaging 11; she is also second on the team in assists with 2.6 per game. She excels as a three point shooter, dropping in 38% of her shots from range. The senior also succeeds when she goes to the stripe making 82% of her attempts.
VCU won last year’s matchup, 74-72. Keira Robinson led the Rams with 20 points, going 4-6 from three point distance and helped out with 9 assists. Ashley Pegram added 19 and Isis Thorpe contributed 14 points to the cause. For the Flyers, a couple key players were absent, Kelly Austria was medically redshirted and Alex Harris was sitting out a season after transferring from Penn State. Jenna Burdette still had a big night with 20 points, 7 assists and 6 steals. Saicha Grant-Allen also made an impact, scoring 14 and hauling in 8 rebounds.
The Flyers were a 14-15 team last season, thanks to some key additions they are in first place and the hottest team in the conference. Their nine game win streak makes VCU’s streak of four wins look modest. In the A-10, positions 3-10 are all up for grabs. The Rams are in the middle of the pack now a win, without some help from other schools a win over Dayton won’t move them up much but losing could drop them out of position to host an A-10 tournament game. They’ve done an excellent job of getting their season back on the rails but they face another tough stretch with 1st place Dayton then 2nd place St. Louis next week.