PREVIEW: Women's Basketball to Open SAA Tournament Against Centre

PREVIEW: Women's Basketball to Open SAA Tournament Against Centre

By MacKenzie Tuttle, Digital Content Supervisor

ROME, Ga. – Winning four of their last six games, the Berry College women's basketball team strides into postseason play, as they round out their best month of competition this season. The Vikings will take on the Colonels of Centre College in a Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Tournament Quarterfinal matchup on Friday night.

"Centre is a well coached team," head coach Thomas Johnson said. "Wendie [Austin-Robinson] and her staff do a great job preparing them. Both games have been competitive with each team getting a win. In order for us to be successful, we just have to be ourselves: defend, rebound and value the ball." 

BERRY COLLEGE VIKINGS – THE OUTLOOK

Berry enters the SAA tournament sitting at 12-13 overall on the year, as well as 6-8 in the SAA. The team improved their conference record from last year by a game despite an overhaul to the coaching staff and several changes to the roster.

The Vikings are averaging 61.8 points per game, as well as 38 rebounds and 9.6 assists on the year, sitting at No. 4 in the conference standings.

They enter the postseason matchup coming off two strong wins against Wesleyan (Ga.) and top-ranked Oglethorpe University last week. Berry is led offensively by Nia Smith, Alex Weems and Eveline Parsons.

Smith is averaging a team-high 11.9 points per game on the season, as well as 4.7 boards, shooting 76.0-percent from the free throw line. Weems is averaging 11.4 points per game on the year for the Vikings, as well as 4.4 rebounds, scoring 286 points in her 642 minutes of play for Berry this season. Parsons rounds out Berry's offense after averaging 10.2 points per game and 2.5 assists per game to head up the Vikings' scoring effort as well.

CENTRE COLLEGE COLONELS – THE OUTLOOK

The Colonels begin postseason play as the No. 5 seed in the SAA Tournament. Centre boasts a 15-9 overall record, as well as a 6-8 conference record, dropping three of their last five contests. The Colonels are averaging 61.5 points per game on the season, as well as 36.4 rebounds and 12.7 assists.

They are led by sophomore Kat Wilson's 12.0 points per game. Abigail Stewart, Paige Kellam and Madison Rice also contribute on offense for Centre as well, averaging 9.0, 7.8 and 6.5 points per game on the year, respectively. Stewart also leads the Colonel's defense, averaging 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

THE MATCHUP

The Vikings have competed against the Colonels twice already this season, defeating Centre 63-53 in early January before falling to the Colonels 62-40 two weeks ago. No Viking finished the second contest with more than eight points, as Berry shot just 27.3-percent from the field as a team. However, with the Vikings shooting over 50-percent in their last two games combined, Berry looks to secure a spot in the SAA semifinals with a win.

The game is set for Friday, Feb. 23 at 6:00 p.m. in Atlanta.