With just about a month left in the 2023-24 women’s college basketball regular season, teams are starting to gear up for potential runs in March.
Every week, the Good Five Cent Cigar sports staff will vote and rank the 15 teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Here’s where the University of Rhode Island women’s basketball team and the rest of the conference ranks as of Feb. 5:
15th Place: University of Massachusetts Minutemen (3-20, 1-10)
Things have just continued to go from bad to worse for the University of Massachusetts throughout this season. Following a regular season conference co-championship last year, they lost their head coach and the entirety of their starting five. It’s been an adjustment for this new group of players, to say the least.
Their losing streak was extended to nine games this past week with a close 63-61 loss to La Salle University and a 77-67 loss to Saint Joseph’s University.
Ranking in the bottom three teams in the conference in both points per game and points allowed per game, it’s tough to see things getting much better for this UMass team in the near future.
14th Place: St. Bonaventure University Bonnies (4-17, 1-9)
Like UMass, St. Bonaventure University has also lost their last nine contests and a majority of them haven’t been very competitive. After winning their first conference game of the year against Loyola University Chicago 84-72, St. Bonaventure have lost all but one of their conference games by eight points or more.
The team has struggled to score all year, however it’s been even more prevalent lately, failing to break 60 points in their last four games. They get a full week off following their 65-57 loss to Davidson College as they search for their first win of 2024.
13th Place: George Washington University Revolutionaries (8-14, 1-9)
The struggles continued, particularly on offense, for George Washington University this past week. They lost a home game against Rhode Island 66-52 and then traveled to play Virginia Commonwealth University, where they trailed from start to finish in a 71-51 loss.
The last time George Washington scored more than 56 points was their lone conference win over St. Bonaventure on Jan. 14 when they defeated the Bonnies 78-62. They play St. Bonaventure once again this week, where they will look to solve their offensive struggles and snap their six-game losing streak.
12th Place: Fordham University Rams (7-15, 2-9)
Fordham University was always going to have a big challenge finding wins this past week, facing two of the top three teams in the conference on the road. This resulted in a 54-47 loss to George Mason University and a 79-60 loss to the University of Richmond.
This continued a tough stretch for the team, now losing seven of their last eight games. The one piece of good news for the Rams is that the schedule gets drastically easier in the foreseeable future. Their next four games will all be against teams that are currently in the bottom half of the A-10 standings. If there’s a chance for Fordham to turn their season around, this is going to be it.
11th Place: La Salle University Explorers (7-14, 4-6)
There have certainly been some severe lows for La Salle University throughout the conference schedule, losing five games by 16 or more points. Having said that, they have been able to stay afloat and find themselves towards the middle of the standings.
They were a couple minutes away from completing a very successful week after defeating UMass 63-61 and then going to overtime with The University of Dayton over the weekend. In the end, it was Dayton who prevailed 72-69 and denied the Explorers from getting back to .500 in conference play.
10th Place: University of Dayton Flyers (10-12, 4-7)
The University of Dayton had a rough start to the week when they suffered a 87-61 loss at home to Saint Louis University. However, they were able to bounce back nicely when they went on the road to defeat La Salle in overtime. This was just the second road win of the season for the Flyers.
It’s been a common trend for Dayton throughout conference play that they’ve been able to find some wins against the weaker opponents but have struggled to stay with the teams at the top of the standings. This is evident by their 1-5 record against teams who are currently ninth or better in the standings, with the lone win being against Loyola Chicago last month.
Following their matchup against Fordham this week, their last six opponents are all in the top eight of the standings. In order to have a strong finish to conference play, they are going to need to find some answers on how to beat this tougher competition.
9th Place: Saint Louis University Billikens (9-14, 4-6)
Saint Louis went on the road for a couple of games this past week, and they started out by making a statement. They traveled to Dayton and showed off their offensive prowess in a 87-61 win. In a back and forth game with Davidson over the weekend, they ran out of steam at the end and suffered a 66-58 loss.
That has continued to be the story with this Saint Louis team, as they have failed to win consecutive games since winning three straight in November. Their problems come back to their defense, as they currently rank last in the conference in opponents’ points per game.
8th Place: Loyola University Chicago Ramblers (11-11, 5-6)
Loyola Chicago has dropped one spot in our rankings this week after facing the gauntlet of their schedule. They are currently on a three-game skid, with all of the losses coming to teams who are in the top five of the A-10 standings.
This past week, they had to face the teams who are currently first and second, as they took on Saint Joseph’s and George Mason. They made both games respectable, keeping them within 11 points, but the week ended with them being under .500 in conference play for the first time since Jan. 13. They will look to get back on track this week with more winnable games against La Salle and Davidson.
7th Place: Davidson College Wildcats (16-6, 6-5)
When a team is 0-5 against the teams in the top half of the conference and 6-0 against the teams in the bottom half, it makes sense that they’ll find themselves right in the middle of our rankings. Davidson continued that trend this past week with a couple of wins over two bottom half teams; a 65-57 win over St. Bonaventure followed by a 66-58 win over Saint Louis.
Still, to be considered true contenders in the conference, the Wildcats are going to need to find a signature win or two along the way. They will have some opportunities to do so coming up as their next three games all come against teams who are in the top eight of the A-10 standings, starting with Loyola Chicago on Sunday.
6th Place: University of Rhode Island Rams (15-9, 7-4)
It seemed as if Rhode Island may have been starting to find that dominance from last season after they won three straight games by double digits. However, that streak was snapped over the weekend when they suffered a 70-61 loss to Duquesne University on the road. It is worth noting that URI was short handed in this game, missing fifth-year guard Teisha Hyman and second-year guard Ines Debroise, who left the game in the first minute of play due to injury.
For the Rams, it’s all about getting healthy and being able to put all the pieces together. There’s enough talent that this is certainly still a team that can make a run when March rolls around.
5th Place: Duquesne University Dukes (13-9, 8-3)
Duquesne came into this week on a roll as winners of their past four games. They saw that streak snapped when they traveled to play VCU and lost 64-51. Back home over the weekend, they were able to respond quickly with a 70-61 win over Rhode Island.
The Dukes are going to have a chance to really elevate their record in the coming weeks. Their next five games all come against opponents who are currently under .500 or worse during conference play. If they’re able to take advantage of this stretch, Duquesne could see themselves sneaking into that group of elusive top four teams who get a double bye in the A-10 tournament.
4th Place: Virginia Commonwealth University Rams (19-3, 8-2)
Home dominance continued to be the story of VCU’s season this past week. They are now an astounding 12-0 at home after wins over both Duquesne and George Washington.
When you play VCU, they’re going to make you work for every single point. They rank first in the conference in opponents points per game, only allowing 51.2. Along with this, their opponent field goal percentage is the lowest in the conference. This isn’t a team that’s going to score all over you, but with their staunch defense, they’re a very tough team to beat.
3rd Place: University of Richmond Spiders (19-4, 9-1)
Richmond and VCU encapsulate the fact that you can win in very different ways in this conference. While VCU have made their living off defensive play, Richmond is all about their offense. The Spiders lead the conference in just about every single offensive statistic (points per game, field goal percentage and three point percentage).
Their defense is certainly nothing to scoff at either, as they are seventh in the conference in opponents’ points per game, but the way they will win most of their games is through their impeccable shooting. Similar to VCU, they have been dominant at home with a 10-0 record at the Robins Center.
They responded nicely from their lone conference loss to Duquesne with a 72-61 win over Saint Louis and 79-60 win over Fordham this past week.
2nd Place: George Mason University Patriots (18-3, 9-1)
George Mason had some uncharacteristic offensive struggles this past week, failing to break more than 61 points in either of their contests. Still, they were able to get hard fought victories over both Fordham and Loyola Chicago and extended their winning streak to eight games.
It has now been more than a month since George Mason lost their only conference game of the year – a nail biting 70-68 loss to Rhode Island on the road. A huge showdown awaits them this week when they welcome in the top team in the conference, Saint Joseph’s, to see who can keep their winning streak alive.
1st Place: Saint Joseph’s University Hawks (21-2, 10-1)
The dominance continued for Saint Joseph’s this past week with a couple more double-digit wins over Loyola Chicago and UMass. Since their loss to Richmond last month, the Hawks have now won seven of eight games by at least 10 points.
Dating back to non-conference play, Saint Joseph’s have won 13 of their past 14 games. They continue to put themselves in a great position to get either an at-large bid in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament or earn the auto-bid by winning the A-10 tournament.
As mentioned, their top spot in the conference will be at stake this week when they travel to play George Mason. For most teams, a game of this magnitude being on the road may seem like an issue, but the Hawks have been very comfortable away from home this year with an 11-0 record.