Wednesday, December 30, 2009

James Madison, Virginia Tech win holiday tournaments

What's that Perry Como said about "There's no place like home for the holidays"? James Madison and Virginia Tech can relate. Both schools wrapped up holiday tournaments on their home courts on Wednesday to close out the non-conference season.

Wednesday's results:

#25 JMU 74, Western Michigan 65: Expect this one to be about Dawn Evans? Tournament MVP Evans had a typical night (28 points), but the best news for the Dukes is the resurgence of Lauren Jimenez, who suffered an ACL injury last February. Two days after being cleared to play, Jimenez blitzed the Broncos for career-high 21 points as the Dukes (10-1) did the expected at their own JMU Classic. The Dukes rose to No. 25 in the nation without the 6-4 junior center. What heights can they achieve with her

Virginia Tech 56, Charlotte 54: It was never a sure thing as the 49ers stuck to the Hokies (9-4)like gum on the sole of a Nike, even draining a 3-pointer at the final buzzer. Still, one year after Liberty ended the Hokies' decade of dominance over their own tournament, Tech restored the Hilton Garden Classic title to what we're sure they believe is its rightful place at Cassell Coliseum.

#3 Tennessee 102, Old Dominion 62: Sadly, there were no surprises in Knoxville as an ODU team that has struggled to guard all season was exposed again in front of 12,503 at Thompson-Boling. Even with Lady Vols stars Shekinna Stricklen injured early and Glory Johnson apparently in Pat Summitt's doghouse, Tennessee shot 67 percent from the field in a shooting performance so sizzling Wendy Larry joked that she asked Pat Summitt for a fire extinguisher at halftime. At least we think she was joking. And so ended a disastrous non-conference schedule for a clearly rebuilding ODU (2-8). The Lady Monarchs are accustomed to finding refuge in the CAA, but until their defense develops some teeth, their problems will continue.

Richmond 63, Morgan State 60: Brittani Shells bailed Richmond (9-4) out of what looked like a shocking loss when the Spiders trailed by 13 with 17 minutes remaining. Shells fueled the Spider rally with a career-best 32 points, including the winning 3-pointer in the final second of the St. Peter's Classic third-place game. "We didn't want to lose the game," said Shells. "We were fueled by last night's loss [to Chattanooga]. We wanted to go home with at least one win. Coach told us in the timeout we were going to win and that really gave us a boost of confidence. We started to pressure them and contest their shots."

William and Mary 55, Delaware St. 47: Not sure if we want to get too excited about this. Sure, there were some nice individual efforts - freshman Emily Correal had 15 points and sophomore Janine Aldridge went 5-for-7 from 3-point range and had a game-high 17. But the injury-ravaged Lady Hornets might be the weakest team in Division I. That the Tribe (7-4) were in something of a battle with a team that managed just 20 points in its last game...well, a win is a win, right?

Appalachian St. 74, George Mason 54: We've continued to make a big deal about the Patriots' 7-0 record at home, and rightfully so. On the flip side, Wednesday's loss dropped the Pats to 0-4 on the road with a 23.5-point average margin of defeat. Mason's going to have to do something about his quickly, too - three of their next four games are away from Fairfax.

Gardner-Webb 72, Longwood 58: A respectable showing by the Lancers (4-11), who got a season-high 20 points from Becky Fernandes and gave the red-hot Lady Bulldogs fits most of the night.

VCU 70, Coppin State 40: That 0-3 Las Vegas trip must seem like a distant memory for the Rams (7-5), who shackled the Lady Eagles with pressure defense and rolled to their second straight victory since the Duel in the Desert debacle.

NcNeese St. 68, Norfolk St. 55: Not sure if it's fatigue by NSU or canny adjustments by opponents, but the Spartans continue to have problems containing people after halftime. The Cowgirls shot 64 percent after the break; it marked the fourth time in five games an NSU opponent has made at least 50 percent of its shots over the final 20 minutes. Not surprisingly, the Spartans lost each time this has happened. The one time in this stretch when they did lock an opponent down, NSU prevailed at Savannah State.

Thursday's game

Radford (1-9) at Marshall (7-4), noon: Hate to keep harping on the Highlanders' lack of scoring punch, but in nine games against Division I foes Radford has scored 49 points or less seven times and has yet to exceed 53 points. So if the final score of this one is something like 48-46, we like the Highlanders. Otherwise.... (We Are) Marshall 67, Radford 49

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