Saturday, January 16, 2010

CAA Sunday: ODU visits JMU

A look at some of the key games on another big CAA Sunday:

Old Dominion (5-9, 3-1 CAA) at JMU (13-2, 3-1), 2 p.m. Oh, man. Just when the Lady Monarchs have won two in a row, they have a date in Harrisonburg, where they haven't won since 2005. The Dukes have hardly looked invincible in this short conference season, falling to Drexel by one and needing overtime to defeat Towson. NCAA scoring leader Dawn Evans (27.1 ppg) always has the ball in her hand and thrives on hitting the big shot (Evans scored 38 when JMU upset Virginia). She's not always efficient (shooting 40 percent from the field), but she's effective in big spots. No surprise that Evans rallied the Dukes on Thursday, draining a 3 to force overtime against the Tigers. Earlier this season, Evans was the dominant answer to the WBCA's poll question: "Who do you want to take a last second shot?" (Maya Moore was a distant second.) Evans dumped 36 on ODU the last time the teams played (and that was in the Constant Center) and JMU will be stoked to host a Lady Monarchs team that has to go back there for the CAA tournament. ODU has the goods to win this, but they have been unable to match JMU's intensity inside the Convocation Center since Jan. 6 of '05. James Madison 81, Old Dominion 74

VCU (11-5, 5-0 CAA) at William and Mary, (9-6, 2-2 CAA) 2 p.m. It was a huge blow to lose La'Tavia Rorie for the season to a knee injury, but the resilant Rams didn't miss a beat on Thursday, defeating UNC Wilmington to remain the CAA's only unbeaten team. VCU looks to win its seventh straight on Sunday and await a delicious matchup with Delle Donne, ah Delaware, on Thursday. Getting by a Tribe defense that has been holding opponents to 33 percent shooting from the field won't be easy. Nor will be stopping sophomore captain Katherine DeHenzel, whose hot shooting touch has her averaing 15.5 points and 5 assists in the last week. Tripping up the Tribe are turnovers and poor free-throw shooting, and we suspect VCU will be able to take advantage of that in this one. VCU 74, William and Mary 62

Northeastern (6-9, 1-3 CAA) at George Mason (7-8, 0-4 CAA), 2 p.m.: Here's the good news. George Mason is 7-1 at home. Here's the bad news. The Patriots haven't won a game since Dec. 22. Brittany Poindexter (13.8 ppg; 50 percent from the field) is their engine, but the rest of the GMU offense has had trouble getting started. GMU averages 56.5 ppg, and has failed to crack 50 in three of its last four games. Huskies have won the last five between the teams, but have dropped four of its last five (their lone CAA win was in triple OT versus ODU). We're sticking with the Patriots at home, but we're not betting the house on it. George Mason 61, Northeastern 58

Saturday's recap

The Notre Dame-UConn "contest" wasn't the only exposure women's basketball received Saturday from ESPN. During halftime of an afternoon men's game, the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader (humble folks, those guys) aired footage of the pre-game fight that broke out during warmups of the Louisville-Georgetown game. Not surprisingly, Georgetown's official release about the game makes no mention of any fisticuffs (Fight? What fight?) And since officials hadn't taken jurisdiction of the game yet, no ejections or technical fouls were assessed. But you have to believe the Big East will weigh in quickly with punishment/suspensions, especially since everyone with cable TV saw what went down. Could this mean Sugar-free Hoyas? Not saying Suffolk's Sugar Rodgers was involved; I couldn't tell. But it looked like just about everyone was involved. If so, just about everyone could be in line for some sort of sanction. Such action would certainly put the Hoyas' 14-game winning streak in peril. Georgetown's next three games are at Cincinnati (8-8, 1-3 Big East), at home against DePaul (12-6, 1-3) and at Marquette (12-6, 3-2).

Also, how 'bout that score of Arizona's victory over Oregon - 119-112 (the highest-scoring game in Pac-10 history). We knew former Phoenix Mercury coach/mad scientist Paul Westhead would liven up the Pac 10 once he took that Oregon job. Said Arizona coach Niya Butts: "I wonder if it's possible to take some of these points and add them to the next game."

As for Saturday's action that hit much closer to home:

Richmond 73, UMass 62: This is why we love the Spiders (13-4, 2-0 A-10, 5 straight wins), because at their best, they're a wonderfully efficient team to watch. Check out these first-half stats: 69-percent shooting, 7-of-10 3-pointers, 16 assists on 20 baskets and a season-high 48 points. Reminded us of the Spiders' tour-de-force effort against Clemson earlier this season. We believe that when Richmond is at its best, the Spiders can handle just about anyone. Now let's hope the Spiders can confirm that belief by springing such a performance on Dayton or Xavier.

Hampton 63, Norfolk State 59 (OT): Must have been some atmosphere at Echols Arena. The announced attendance was 1,354 - nearly double NSU's previous high - and significantly more fans were probably in seats by game's end as 4,550 turned out for the Hampton-NSU men's game that followed. As for the game, credit the Spartans (2-10, 0-4 MEAC) for yet another valiant effort. But Hampton (6-9, 2-2 MEAC) continues to own this rivalry, and they continue to prove that poor shooting (30 percent) isn't necessarily fatal.

Radford 61, UNC Asheville 50: The Highlanders (4-11, 3-1 Big South) win back-to-back games for the first time all season thanks in part to a second straight season-high career-high scoring night from Denay Wood. Wood finished with 20 points, three more than her previous career best established Monday against Winthrop. A considerably more accurate 3-point shot has been key for Wood, who made just 7 of 27 3-pointers against non-conference foes but is shooting a blistering 62.5 percent from distance (10 of 16) against Big South foes.

Liberty 73, Presbyterian 27: A straight-up beatdown. And it wasn't as though Lady Flames coach Carey Green wore the Blue Hose out (there's a joke in there somewhere) with just his starters, as no one played more than 25 minutes and 10 Lady Flames played at least 15 minutes. Special mention to freshman Jelena Antic, who was 7 for 7 from the field and has now made 10 straight shots over two games for Liberty (11-4, 2-1 Big South).

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