Clarkson women's basketball preview - at William Smith/RIT
Friday, February 14, 2014 - 7:21 am

This coming weekend represents the final road trip of the regular season for the Clarkson University Women's Basketball team and the Golden Knights are looking to rally back towards the .500 mark for the season when they face William Smith and RIT in Liberty League action.

The Golden Knights, 8-11 overall and 3-8 in Liberty League games, lost three close games last week in conference play and will try to end the streak against one of the conference leaders in William Smith on Friday. However, the Knights had a strong run in the second half against the Herons in the first meeting and took away a 69-57 victory less than two weeks ago. On Saturday, Clarkson will look to avenage a narrow two-point loss to the Tigers (51-49) and get back into the Liberty League playoff hunt.

William Smith (17-5 overall, 10-3 Liberty League) was nearly doubled up in the second half of the first meeting against Clarkson (40-23), but the Herons are the second-highest scoring team in the league at 69.5 points per game. Chloe Hayter averages 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to lead the Herons and senior Sasha Borenstein leads the Liberty League in 3-pointers made at 3.2 per game, which also ranks seventh in the country. Classmate Erin O'Brien joins Borenstein and Hayter as Herons who score better than 11 points per game, and O'Brien also dishes out 4.3 assists per game.

RIT (11-10 overall, 7-5 Liberty League) is the only team in the conference that can match William Smith's offensive fire power, averaging 70.4 points per game thanks to a strong defense that leads the league in turnover margin (+2.95). Not surprisingly, two of the top five scores in the conference come from RIT, as Ashlynn Palmitesso leads the team and is third in the conference in scoring at 15.8 points per game. Just behind her is teammate Courtney Tennant, who ranks in the top four in the league in both scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (10.0 rpg).

Clarkson got a strong effort from Cara Manfredi (Glastonbury, CT) in the first meeting against William Smith, as the junior scored 24 points and added in seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in the win. Manfredi is tied with teammate Ashley Loggins (Albany, NY) for seventh in the conference in scoring (15.0 ppg) and Loggins also ranks 10th in the league in rebounding (7.6 rpg). Clarkson boasts the top-rated scoring defense in the league at 57.1 ppg and is second in field-goal defense (34.8%). The Knights defense is also first in steals (10.1 spg) and second in turnover margin (+2.26).