Richmond Times-Dispatch

Te-Biasu displaying veteran demeanor

Freshman guard is playing team-high 34 minutes per game

- BYWAYNE EPPS JR.

Down by 4 to Buffalo last Thursday, VCU needed a basket.

The Rams, as the final minutes ticked away, were without a field goal for more than six and a half minutes in their home opener.

Sarah Te-Biasu took things into her own hands.

At about the three-minute mark, Taya Robinson (Huguenot) secured a rebound in a scrum and fired a pass off to Te-Biasu to start a fast break. Te-Biasu drove straight to the hoop, stepped around Buffalo’s Hanna Hall and finished with a right-handed scoop layup — her first basket of the game.

On the next VCU possession, Robinson swung the ball to TeBiasu on the right wing. And, with Hall closing out, Te-Biasu launched with conviction and sank a 3. That cut Buffalo’s lead to 1.

Te-Biasu then nabbed a steal from Buffalo. With the ball back, Robinson drove for a layup and drew the foul. She made the free throw to give VCU a 2-point advantage with 1:24 to play. The Rams went on to win 61-55.

It was a veteran sequence by Te-Biasu. But it came in just her fourth collegiate game.

The freshman from Montreal has been a sure-handed floor general for the Rams in the point guard spot vacated by the graduation of NyraWillia­ms.

And the performanc­e she had at the end of the Buffalo game — helping to tote VCU to victory — was a valuable microcosm of what she can bring to the table.

“I wanted to win that game,” Te-Biasu said of the performanc­e against Buffalo. “And all my teammates wanted to win that game. So we just came out stronger. ... It was a difficult start for us, but we finished strong. And I’m really proud that I helped to win that game.”

Te-Biasu, through six games this season — all starts — has averaged 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals while playing a team-high 34 minutes per game.

The Rams (2-4) knew that, with the graduation ofWilliams, a huge hole would be left to fill. Williams was the picture of dependabil­ity at point guard. She had 80 straight starts through the end of her career, and averaged at least 3.2 assists her sophomore through senior seasons.

The 5-foot-5 Te-Biasu, though, has stepped in and carved out her place within a team that has an upperclass­men core.

For Te-Biasu, it all started with a park in her neighborho­od in Montreal. She watched the people who played hoops there, and wanted to be like them. It inspired her to pick up basketball herself, at age 9.

To help with her progressio­n, Te-Biasu played on boys teams her first two years. As a kid, TeBiasu had a knack of watching former Chicago Bulls star point guard and current Detroit Piston Derrick Rose.

She was a fan of his hesitation crossover move.

“He helped me to love the game,” Te-Biasu said. “And how he played basketball, it just helped me to learn and become a better player.”

When Te-Biasu went on to play at Niagara Prep, located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada — for her final two years of high school — she became an Ontario Scholastic Basketball Associatio­n first-team all-star. That’s where VCU saw her play. The Rams have a good relationsh­ip with Niagra Prep coach Dave Picton, VCU coach Beth O’Boyle said.

From O’Boyle’s view, one of the best things about Te-Biasu is that she sees the floor well and, subsequent­ly, makes good decisions. She saw the veteran-like presence in Te-Biasu even back in high school.

“And that decision making sometimes, when you make the jump from high school to college, is the hardest part. And she’s done a really good job with that. She’s been taking care of the ball and handling different types of defenses,” said O’Boyle, who notched her 200th career head coaching victory in the Rams’ season opener against Saint Mary’s.

When Te-Biasu got to campus, she put in work on her shot, and also on her first step on drives, which she had to adjust to avoid travel calls coming from playing under Internatio­nal Basketball Associatio­n (FIBA) rules.

One of the thingsO’Boyle believes has helped the 5-5 Te-Biasu is going against taller guards in teammates Robinson (5-10) and Tera Reed (6-0) in practice.

Te-Biasu has seemed to assimilate well with the Rams’ veterans, like Robinson and Reed. VCU has seven upperclass­men, including five seniors. In the season opener against Saint Mary’s, Te-Biasu admits she was stressed at the beginning of the game. But Robinson helped settle her.

“After I talked with Taya, she said just, ‘It’s your first game and you will be fine.’ And I just started playing my game,” TeBiasu said. “And my teammates gave me a lot of confidence.”

Te-Biasu went on to drop a season-high 19 points in that game.

While she said she’s proud of what she’s done to this point, TeBiasu also said she’s not satisfied —“I know I can do a lot better.”

For Te-Biasu it’s only the beginning, but what a beginning it’s been.

“She really wants to elevate her play. And she’s committed to it,” O’Boyle said. “And I think that’s going to help in addition to that poise that she already plays with.

“I think it’s been a great start so far.”

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VCU AT VANDERBILT Women’s college basketball
Dec. 17: 3 p.m. VCU AT VANDERBILT Women’s college basketball
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 ?? LOGANWHITT­ON ?? VCU freshman Sarah
Te- Biasu has started all six games this season, and averages 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
LOGANWHITT­ON VCU freshman Sarah Te- Biasu has started all six games this season, and averages 12.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

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