Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here's to the winners: ODU, VCU, JMU

The zaniness in the CAA continues as ODU scores a dramatic upset of the defending tournament champions and a "where'd they come from" VCU team takes over first place. And on Monday, ESPN serves up a rare treat - two women's basketball games sprinkled in amongst the gut of men's action highlighted by a Virginia team looking to get well at the expense of a Maryland squad that simply doesn't travel well.

Sunday's results

Old Dominion 69, Drexel 59: Didn't we tell you not to write off the Lady Monarchs (4-9, 2-1 CAA)? How big of a victory is this? Drexel (8-6, 2-1) hadn't lost in 15 games; the Dragons are the defending CAA champions; and reigning league Player of the Year Gabriela Marginean scored 33. Still the senior was uncharacteristically flustered thanks to an inspired performance by the ODU defense that forced her into six of Drexel's 11 turnovers. ODU didn't get big numbers out of old reliables Tia Lewis and Shadasia Green (the two combined for 12 points), but Jasmine Parker poured in 22, including a 12-of-12 afternoon at the free-throw line. Freshman Jackie Cook lifted ODU in the second half, scoring 12 of her career-best 14 points, including two 3s, and Jessica Canady added nine with a game-high 11 rebounds. ODU didn't have a field goal in the final 10:10, but made up for it at the line with 13 consecutive free throws to top off a 30-of-36 day at the stripe.

UNC Wilmington 70, William and Mary 63
: Tribe (8-6, 1-2 CAA) had been holding opponents to 32 percent shooting from the field, but nobody told the Seahawks, who shatter that with a 45-percent afternoon. Seems like somebody must have been defending the free-throw line, as the teams combined to make just 10 of their 26 shots. W&M drops its second straight on the road.

Virginia Commonwealth 79, Towson 51:
And the first place team in the conference is......the Rams (10-5, 3-0)! What did we say about La'Tavia Rorie and D'Andra Moss needing some help? Today they got some Hurt, as in sophomore Courtney Hurt, who amassed 26 points and 10 boards. (Moss wasn't too shabby, either, with a double-double 19 points and 14 boards.) Senior CAA preseason first-teamer Shanae Baker-Brice got hers (28 points), but the rest of the Tigers were a miserable 8 of 29. VCU has won 22 of 23 inside its home arena.

James Madison 62, George Mason 50:
The Dukes (12-2, 2-1) scored the first nine, held GMU to a season-low 14 points in the first half and never allow the Patriots to get closer than five to win their ninth straight at the JMU Convocation Center. We've seen Dawn Evans play better (she scored 16 on 6-of-21 shooting), but Jalissa Taylor notches her first double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds). Credit goes to the Patriots Brittany Poindexter (8-of-12 for 18 points, 8 rebounds), but GMU needs two things right now. A road win and a conference win. The Patriots have dropped to 7-7, 0-3.

Monday's games

Maryland (12-3, 0-1 ACC) at No. 21 Virginia (11-4, 0-1 ACC), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Cavaliers suffered a second-half meltdown in Thursday's 68-50 loss at Florida State but should rebound in this "Big Monday" matchup against an extremely young Maryland team with a record inflated by an extremely manageable home schedule (no offense, Old Dominion). The Terps are 11-0 at their Comcast Center but are just 1-3 on the road with the three losses - to Mississippi State, Towson (!) and N.C. State by an average of 23 points. Maryland may also be without the services of Virginia Beach's hard-luck Kim Rodgers, the sophomore guard who had worked her way into the Terps' starting lineup. Rodgers suffered a hand injury five minutes into a 67-61 victory over UNC Wilmington on Dec. 29 and has not played since. The injury - the latest in a string of setbacks for the former Princess Anne High star - spoiled what could have been a career night for Rodgers, who scored nine points before the first media timeout.

Norfolk St. (2-8, 0-2 MEAC) at Florida A&M (8-4, 1-1 MEAC), 5:30 p.m.
Two teams appear to be the class of the MEAC - North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M. When the Spartans faced A&T, they lost by 30, at home. Not surprisingly, we're not crazy about their chances of taking down the league's other titan on the road (Did we mention that NSU has lost 25 straight MEAC road games?) Any hope of springing the monumental upset would be aided by a return to form of NSU guard Whitney Long, the team's leading scorer who managed just 3 points on 1-of-7 shooting in Saturday's 79-61 loss at Bethune-Cookman.

Morgan St. (5-8, 2-0 MEAC) at Hampton (4-9, 0-2 MEAC), 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Nationally televised showcase for Lady Bears guard Tiny Adams, a high-scoring 5-7 senior from Brooklyn with a flair for the dramatic. On Saturday, for example, Tiny got caught in traffic after taking a teacher's certification exam at nearby Johns Hopkins and showed up for the Lady Bears game against Howard with play already in progress. She still finished the first half with 11 points and finished with a game-high 23 in a 57-48 victory. By the way, the last time these teams met, on Feb. 23 in a contest also televised on ESPNU, Tiny torched Hampton for 32 points in a 90-87 overtime victory.

Winthrop (6-8, 1-1 Big South) at Radford (2-11, 1-1 Big South), 7 p.m.
The Highlanders were just minutes away from completing what could have been a defining week for their 2009-10 season Saturday before folding late against High Point. Still, 35 minutes of winning play in that game coupled with last Monday's stunner at Gardner-Webb announced Radford as a Big South contender. Contenders protect their home court in games like this. As for Winthrop, we're sure they're just happy to be free of the vice grip of the Liberty defense.

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