Tribe draws George Mason in first-round matchup; strong showing could result in WNIT bid

After the women’s basketball team defeated Virginia Commonwealth University at its senior game Thursday night, the College secured the fifth seed for the CAA Tournament. With an 18-11 overall record and a conference record of 10-8, this is the best season Head Coach Debbie Taylor has had since she came to the College and the second best season in the school’s history.

p. Individually, the Tribe has had some record breakers as well. Junior Kyra Kaylor is currently third in scoring in the history of the College. Senior Sarah Stroh has the third-most career assists and freshman Tiffany Benson is second in the conference for the most blocked shots.

p. During the CAA tournament, all 12 teams in the conference participate. The top four teams, Old Dominion University, James Madison University, the University of Delaware and Hofstra University, respectively, receive byes for the first round of play. With a 15-game winning streak, ODU’s track record makes them a big favorite to win the tournament. Furthermore, this is the longest winning streak in CAA conference history. The Lady Monarchs will play the winner of the Georgia State University and Drexel University game.

p. JMU is also a big favorite, as it was ranked nationally in the Associated Press National Poll until two weeks ago. The Dukes have four seniors, each 1,000-point scorers, and have been called the best team in the league. Although they recently suffered losses to ODU and Delaware, they are still strong contenders. JMU will play the victor of the Towson University and University of North Carolina-Wilmington game.

p. The Tribe is set to play the 12th seed, George Mason University, at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday at Delaware in Newark. Despite GMU’s 2-16 conference record, the Patriots have a talented squad. This will be the third time the College will face-off against GMU this season, as they defeated the Patriots 47-46 and 65-56 during the regular season.

p. “It’s always hard to beat a team three times,” Taylor said. “George Mason is athletic and quick with the ball. They don’t have any superstars but they are good one versus one. They have played so many close games this season; their record is really a poor reflection of the team’s true talent.”

p. If the College can secure a victory against the Patriots, the Tribe will play the fourth seed, Hofstra, at 2:30 p.m. Friday. In order to avenge their loss to the Pride, the College will need to continue to rebound well. Additionally, the Tribe needs to pressure its opponent and force the easy turnovers. Since the College has also had some difficulty scoring, it will need to convert on the offensive end as well.

p. “We’ve been playing very well lately,” Taylor said. “We had a great showing against VCU last week and we are really playing our best basketball right now. We are confident we can play with anyone.”

p. The Tribe is also in the running for a bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament if they are not invited to the NCAA tournament. Although the WNIT is not as prestigious a tournament as the NCAA, it would still be an outstanding accomplishment. If the College does get invited, it will mark the first time in the school’s history that the Tribe would be invited to a post-season tournament.

p. “We would need to be very successful at the CAA tournament to get a bid,” Taylor said. “It may not be very likely, but it would be extremely exciting for the program and the team if we did.”


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