Conference tourney

March 06, 2002|By Bill Free

State women

Colonial Athletic Association

Site: Old Dominion University Field House, Norfolk, Va.

When: Today through Saturday

2001 champion: Old Dominion

2002 favorite: Old Dominion. The Lady Monarchs are 18-0 in the league and 15th-ranked in the country. They have the league's top scoring offense, No. 1 defense, best field-goal-percentage, lead in blocked shots and are No. 1 in assists.

Dark horse: Drexel. The first-year CAA team was 6-12 in league play, but the Dragons seem to have the most advantageous draw of the also-rans to make it to the semifinals. Seventh-seeded Drexel opens with 1-17 Towson and then plays long-time rival Delaware in the quarterfinals.

Player to watch: Lucienne Berthieu, Old Dominion. The 6-foot-2 senior forward-center is the best player in the league when healthy. She was co-Player of the Year as a sophomore, Player of the Year as a junior, missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and was pre-season Player of the Year this season.

Outlook: Berthieu averages 13.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and shoots 59.1 percent from the field in 23 minutes a game. Berthieu and point guard Sharron Francis are a gifted inside-outside combination. Delaware was second in the league with a 15-3 record, but the Blue Hens have a tough road to the championship game, with most likely Drexel and possibly Virginia Commonwealth to beat.

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