Friday, January 22, 2010

Saturday dribble: Richmond vs. Dayton

A few days ago, we dubbed Richmond the state's best team. Now the Spiders can back that up, as well as pick up a little love from the voters in the next AP and ESPN/USA Today national polls.

Saturday's games

Richmond (14-4, 3-0 Atlantic 10) at Dayton (14-4, 2-1 Atlantic 10), 2 p.m.
The timing seems ideal for the Spiders to make this Ohio trip. The Spiders are rested (haven't played since Tuesday's romp over undermanned George Washington) and are playing their best ball of the season (six-game winning streak). In addition, Richmond's ballhawking defense has given the Flyers fits of late. When these teams met in the A-10 semifinals last season, Richmond used 11 second-half steals to erase a 19-point deficit over the final 16:16 to claim a 54-48 decision. And in last year's lone regular-season meeting, the Spiders scored 23 points off Dayton turnovers in a 60-51 victory. Dayton star Kendel Ross (9.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has been particularly spooked at the sight of Spiders. In the two meetings with the Spiders a year ago, the Flyers second-leading scorer scored a combined 6 points on 2 of 14 shooting with 10 turnovers. Getting any conference victory on the road is tough, particularly against a team receiving votes in the AP poll. But under the present conditions, we love Richmond's chances here. Richmond 63, Dayton 55

Radford (5-11, 4-1 Big South) at Coastal Carolina (11-5, 2-2 Big South), 2 p.m.
We saw Radford in its season opener against William and Mary, and frankly we left unsure if the Highlanders were an organized team or a bunch of kids who just met each other 10 minutes before tipoff. We're not confused any more. Major props to coach Tajama Ngongba for pulling it all together. The Chanticleers - the Big South sure does have some unique nicknames, doesn't it? - are 7-0 at home, and Radford hasn't played off campus since Jan. 4. But as they proved that day by blasting Gardner-Webb, these new and improved Highlanders don't mind taking their show on the road. Radford will begin play in a three-way tie for the Big South lead with Gardner-Webb and High Point. Radford 61, Coastal Carolina 58

Bethune-Cookman (6-9, 3-2 MEAC) at Hampton (6-10, 2-3 MEAC), 4 p.m.
The Lady Wildcats must find someway to slow down Hampton forward Quanneisha Perry. No one else has of late - the junior has three straight double-doubles and is averaging 25 points a game over that span. She went for 20 and 10 in the last meeting between these teams, a 67-59 Hampton victory over Bethune last season in Daytona Beach. Hampton 68, Bethune-Cookman 57

Norfolk St. (2-11) at Winston-Salem St. (2-15), 2 p.m.
The pressure is actually on the Spartans here because frankly, this is a team they should beat. Heck, last year NSU had the worst team in Division I and still almost beat these guys before falling 69-67 in overtime. The Lady Rams have lost 13 straight since beating Presbyterian by one point on Nov. 22. The Spartans have lost six in a row themselves, but have been very competitive against much tougher foes than they'll be facing today. Again, NSU should beat this team. The Lady Rams are led by junior guard MaLisa Bumpus, a former Norfolk Collegiate School star who began her college career at James Madison. Norfolk State 56, Winston-Salem State 52

Liberty (12-4, 3-1 Big South) at Charleston Southern (9-8, 1-3 Big South), 5 p.m.
The Buccaneers rank third in the country in 3-pointers made and drained 17 of them in a nine-point loss to powerhouse North Carolina back in November. The problem for the Bucs is that Liberty ranks first in the nation in 3-point defense. Assuming the Lady Flames can take away the long ball, we're not sure what else Charleston Southern can do. And did we mention that Liberty has won 25 straight in this series, by an average of 24.3 points? Liberty 60, Charleston Southern 45

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