Richmond's women's basketball team enters conference play with one of the top records in the Atlantic 10 Conference, despite the odds being stacked against it.
Having won six straight games, the Spiders look to continue their success at home Saturday night against Temple University in each team's A-10 opener. Richmond, picked to finish eighth out of 14 teams in a preseason conference poll, finished its non-conference schedule at 12-2, exceeding expectations.
The young Spiders boast a roster composed of nine freshmen or sophomores and only one senior: top-scorer Abby Oliver. Oliver is receiving help in the scoring column from sophomores Genevieve Okoro and, more recently, Becca Wann.
Wann, who comes off the bench, was named tournament MVP of the Lehigh Christmas Classic for her role in the Spiders' victories over James Madison University (17 points) and Lehigh University (10 points, 10 rebounds).
Okoro and Wann's production increases, as well as a strong start by junior Rachael Bilney, have helped ease the burden left on Oliver from the graduation of last season's leading scorer Brittani Shells.
The Spiders were dealt another blow midway through this season, when Miah Register and Leah Johnson decided to transfer before the team's loss to University of Virginia. Register was the team's starting point guard. Richmond has not lost since then.
Temple looks to stand in the way of Richmond extending its winning streak to seven and will be a tough test for the Spiders despite its 6-7 record. The Owls were preseason favorites to win the A-10, but have started off slow thanks in part to a tough schedule that has featured games against four nationally ranked teams.
Elsewhere in the A-10, Dayton University, another preseason A-10 favorite, is sitting at 8-4 as it prepares for a run at its third-straight trip to the NCAA tournament.
Record-wise, St. Bonaventure University (13-2) and Duquesne University (12-3) are on top along with Richmond, though both teams have yet to be truly tested against top-notch competition.
Picked to finish seventh, Xavier University (3-10) may be the conference's most disappointing team so far after winning the A-10 title last season.
For the Spiders, tip off with the Owls is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Robins Center.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at email@example.com
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