Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sunday dribble: Bring on CAA play

Time to get serious in the CAA. No more Delaware States and Lafayettes on the schedule, no more puffed-up records or inflated stats. Just head-to-head matchups the rest of the way, so now we find out who's the real deal and who's been fakin' the funk.
But first....

Saturday's results

#23 Virginia 74, Colorado 59: Nice touch by Debbie Ryan to start reserve F Jayna Hartig, who hails from nearby Highland Ranch, Colo. But as usual, the sweetest touch was supplied by Monica Wright, who shook off early foul trouble to score 18 of her 24 points in the second half to help the Cavaliers (10-3) finally subdue ex-Virginia star Kathy McConnell-Miller's Buffaloes. "She's the real deal," Buffs guard Alyssa Fressle said of Wright. The Cavaliers went most of the way without freshman point guard China Crosby, who suffered a sprained MCL inside the game's first two minutes. But they appear to have dodged a major injury bullet; Debbie Ryan said Crosby could have even returned to the floor Saturday.

Gardner-Webb 70, Liberty 65: Uneasy lies the head the wears the Big South crown.... The Lady Flames (7-4, 0-1) dropped their conference opener for the first time since the 1999-2000 season (Coach Carey Green's first) and are now in chase mode behind a talented Gardner-Webb team that isn't likely to go away. Turnovers were a prime culprit Saturday - the Bulldogs scored 21 points off 23 Liberty giveaways. They also held Devon Brown to just nine points, half her team-leading average. Against JMU, Virginia and Gardner-Webb, the Lady Flames freshman averages 9 points on 17.5 percent shooting (7 of 40). Against everyone else, Brown averages 20.3 points on 61.1 percent shooting (63-103).

Sunday's games

No. 25 JMU (10-1) at Drexel (6-5), 1 p.m. Like the Big South, the CAA opens its 2009-10 schedule with a rematch of last season's championship game which Drexel won on JMU's floor. So give the motivational edge to the Dukes. But while JMU enjoyed a near-perfect start, beginning today the Dukes will face teams that know their tendencies a lot better than non-conference foes. Also, that national ranking doubles as a big bulls eye, and JMU will be the biggest game on everyone's schedule. Games between these two are always close (nine of the last 10 decided by an average of 4.1 points), and there's no reason to think this one will be any different. Side note: Drexel star Gabriela Marginean needs 31 points to eclipse ex-JMU star Tamera Young as the CAA's all-time leading scorer. JMU 67, Drexel 64

Hofstra (7-5) at William and Mary (7-4), 1 p.m.
Be sure to check your local TV listings, as this game will air on Comcast on many cable/satellite systems. The Tribe have only played three games at Kaplan Arena and performed well in two and a half of them, dumping Radford and Davidson and leading Richmond by two through 20 minutes before cooling off considerably in the second half. The matchup to watch will be in the post, where the Tribe has veteran Tiffany Benson and freshman star Emily Correal and the Pride counters with veteran Jess Fuller and freshman star Shante Evans. William and Mary 58, Hofstra 55

Northeastern (5-6) at VCU (7-5), 2 p.m.
The Rams have won five straight in this series and have been virtually unbeatable at home the last two years. If they can defend the three-point line, the ladies from Boston figure to have problems. Then again, VCU should be braced for a close game, for that's pretty much the only kind of game Northeastern has played this season. VCU 71, Northeastern 65

Old Dominion (2-8) at Delaware (8-3), 2 p.m.
If the Lady Monarchs are going to reverse their slide, it'll have to start with their defense. But how does a team defend Elena Delle Donne? We're expecting quick double-teams. But will they double with size, or with quickness? We're not sure the Blue Hens have many scoring options beyond Delle Donne and Tesia Harris. Also, can they put enough pressure on Delaware's guards to slow the flow of the rock to Delle Donne's hands? Can they make her play both ends of the floor? So many questions, about this game and about these teams. We'll get some answers today. Can't wait for tipoff. Delaware 70, Old Dominion 62

George Mason (7-4) at Towson (5-6), 2 p.m.
Hmmm, let's see...The Tigers are 5-1 at home, the Patriots are 0-4 on the road. Which way should we lean... Seriously, folks, the Patriots have looked too good in Fairfax to think they won't get their road act together one of these days. But until we see it happen.... Towson 69, George Mason 58

UMBC (6-6) at Virginia Tech, 2 p.m. Both teams are coming off holiday tournament victories, but the Retrievers' was more impressive as they downed a tough East Carolina squad and host Fordham. Furthermore, UMBC rallied from a 13-point deficit in the first game and 15 points down in the second. And if Tech still needs testimony that UMBC can play, the Hokies can just ask Virginia - the Retrievers led the Cavaliers by a point with less than eight minutes remaining before falling in the teams' season opener. Virginia Tech 59, UMBC 58

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