Monday, February 27, 2012

Women's First-Round Match: Canisius vs St. Peter's

Here's a look at the women's teams playing in one of the two first-round (play-in) games in the MAAC tournament.

CANISIUS (No. 8 Seed) vs. SAINT PETER's (No. 9)
Thursday, 2 p.m.

WHAT SAINT PETER'S HAS: A very good player in 5-9 senior swingperson Jynae Judson (13.5, 5.6), who probably deserved a spot as a third-team all-league pick. The Peahens are the league's best-rebounding team in the rebound-margin vs. opponent statistic (a plus 0.3 per game). Quiana Porter, who barely played early in her career, has developed into a nice low-post player (7.5, 6.6) who turned in a solid senior season. The Peahens also have a little momentum for a team that only won four games (4-25 overall) all season, winning two of their last five including a 66-51 victory over first-round opponent Canisius the last time the two teams met.

WHAT CANISIUS HAS: One of the best, albeit still-developing, young teams in the league. Jamie Ruttle, a 6-3 forward who plays with great court sense, is a third-team all-league pick and was the previous season's Rookie of the Year. It has a good point guard in junior Ashley Durham, who finished second in the league in assists (4.3 per game), a couple of long-range snipers in sophomore Jen Morabito (63 treys) and freshman Kayla Hoohuli (54, the most by any frosh) and an athletic complimentary forward in Ashley Wilkes (7.0, 4.1), along with height off the bench.

WHAT SAINT PETER'S DOESN'T HAVE: Shooters. The team's 53.5 points per game and 33.5 field-goal percentage were both last by considerable margins among the 10 MAAC teams. Despite the rebound margin, the Peahens aren't very tall but that they rebound relatively well is an indication of how hard players work. The team also didn't have a lot of success this year, but its recent win over Canisius probably creates some confidence.

WHAT CANISIUS DOESN'T HAVE: Experience. Every team in the league has at least two seniors on the roster, except the Golden Griffins, who don't have a single senior. Three of the top four scorers are either freshmen or sophomores and Wilkes, the fifth-leading scorer, is a junior college transfer playing her first season in the program. It also will probably be without junior "glue" player Allison Braun, a do-everything forward who has been out more than a month with a shin stress fracture.

HOW CANISIUS CAN WIN: By shooting well. The Griffs are the MAAC's second-best long-range shooting squad overall and Morabito and Hoohuli can both heat up quickly from beyond the stripe. Durham, who has been in and out of the starting lineup (the team had 10 different players start this season) needs to be efficient at the point. The Griffs can win this game, but it would be a surprise if it won the tournament. But, that will likely change in the very near future.

HOW SAINT PETER'S CAN WIN: Make some shots, but that's been its weakness all year and isn't likely to change. Still, on a given night... The Peahens can also win by inflicting their will on an opponent. They are relentless with pressure defense and on the boards. They, too, can win this game. After all they beat Canisius once this year and played close (59-54) in the other meeting. But, it's too much to expect the team to advance very far this year.

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