Valdosta State at Lee | 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15
These two teams already met once this season when Valdosta State got the better of Lee in overtime on Dec. 19, 2020. It’s the only loss either of these programs has so far. In the first meeting, Kayla Bonilla’s 30 point-performance was the difference for the Blazers.
Since then, Valdosta State hasn’t won a game by fewer than 17 points with the Blazers sitting unbeaten at 7-0. Bonilla leads the Blazers in scoring at 17.3 points per game. But make sure to keep an eye on Kwajelin Farrar. The senior has four double-doubles and anchors a defense allowing an average of fewer than 60 points to opponents.
As for Lee, three of its four wins are by double digits and it has the offensive balance to match up with the Blazers. Junior guard Haley Schubert leads the Lady Flames with 15.8 points per game, including 23 points in the first meeting against Valdosta State. She’s one of four players scoring in double figures this season.
Ashland at Grand Valley State | 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 16
We talked a little bit about Ashland ahead of its debut last week. Now we’re focused on a rematch of the GLIAC Tournament championship. Ashland topped Grand Valley State for the conference crown last March, but this is a new year and a strong early season test for both teams.
Ashland cruised by 24 and 15 points in its first two games, but they played GVSU in single-digit wins twice last year. Both Karlee Pireu and Hallie Heidemann have embraced larger roles, averaging 38 points per game together while either one or the other leads Ashland in every offensive and defensive category.
Grand Valley State avoided an early season loss with a last-second free throw to edge Saginaw Valley State. Now they’ll get a better sense of how they stack up against the only team to beat them a year ago. Emily Spitzley has taken a major step forward after not making a start last season. She’s averaging a double-double early on with 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Western Colorado at Black Hills State | 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 16
It’s crazy to be discussing conference titles in January, but here we are with a big race in the RMAC regular season. Western Colorado and Black Hills State meet for the second time this year after the Mountaineers won 81-74 in the first meeting.
For BHSU, it wouldn’t be fair to call this a must-win for a 6-2 team, but it’d be a good win to have over the team ahead of it in the standings. With two losses by a combined 14 points, the Yellow Jackets are only a few possessions away from a much different record. To try and pick up the win this time, BHSU will likely look to seniors Racquel Wientjes and Morgan Ham. The two combine for nearly 37 points per game.
In the first meeting, it was Hannah Cooper who turned the tide for Western Colorado with 34 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Look for the sophomore to be a factor again. But it’s important to remember how deep Western’s backcourt is. Cooper is complemented by Samantha Coleman and Emmery Wagstaff. The trio is responsible for 46.2 points per game. With a win, Western can keep pace with Colorado Mesa at the top of the RMAC.