Monday, January 4, 2010

Tuesday dribble: How 'bout those Highlanders!

Who said Radford was a struggling, down-on-its-luck team? OK, we did. But that's only because it was true. But that was before the Highlanders engineered the biggest upset by a Virginia team this season. The new beasts of the Big South? Let's not get carried away. But after a performance like they put on Monday, no one can blame the Highlanders for believing anything's possible.

Monday's recap

Radford 68, Gardner-Webb 53
Did anyone out there see this coming? If so, e-mail us your picks for this weekend's NFL games. I mean, we're not surprised Kymesha Alston and Kaylyn Crosier were solid, or that freshman Ashley Buckhannon would hit double figures (13 points) for the third straight game. But who knew Da'Naria Erwin-Spencer, a 5-5 freshman averaging about 6 ppg, would triple her normal output (18 points) - all in the second half - on the road against a team receiving votes in the AP poll? Or that the Highlanders would set a season-high for points (against a Division I team) while holding the red-hot Bulldogs to 29-percent shooting? Amazing stuff, so now here's what we do know. When the Highlanders woke up Monday morning, they were winless against D-I schools (0-10). By the time they went to bed, they were undefeated in the Big South.

No. 21 Virginia 72, St. Bonaventure 64
When Monica Wright missed her first six shots and committed three turnovers in the opening 10 minutes, we thought, uh-oh. But on a night when Wright was never quite Wright, the Cavaliers still gutted one out over the extremely pesky Bonnies (12-3). St. Bonaventure's shooting was as good as advertised, as they hit 53 percent of their 3s and all 16 of their free throws. But UVa.'s Lexie Gerson had a pretty hot hand, too. Her 3-pointer with 10:24 left in the second half boosted the Cavaliers ahead 50-49 and triggered the game-altering 10-0 run. Gerson contributed 13 points - all in the second half - to help the Cavaliers (11-3) navigate through a tricky bit of scheduling (they were in Colorado Saturday and will open ACC play at Florida State Thursday). One major downer - freshman point guard China Crosby is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in her left knee early in Saturday's win over Colorado. The injury was intially believed to be the much-less-intense sprained MCL. Finally, the Cavaliers and Bonnies combined to make 32 of 34 free throws (94.1 percent) to narrowly miss setting an NCAA Division I record for combined marksmanship from the line (minimum 30 attempts). On Jan. 3, 1955, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech shot 94.6 percent on free throws (35 of 37). We know what you're thinking - who missed the free throws. Well, you'll have to check the box for that. We're not interested in outing Simone and Paulisha....oops.

Richmond 64, Wake Forest 54: You know the phrase "as easy as taking candy from a Deacon Demon?" Of course you don't, we just made it up. But that's how it must have seemed to the Spiders, who had 14 steals and punked Wake into 31 turnovers. Brittani Shell celebrated her A-10 Player of the Week award with 19 points. And the Spiders earned a solid road victory while proving they took all that talk about refocusing after an underwhelming effort in last week's St. Peter's Classic seriously.

Campbell 82, Longwood 70: A big night from 3-point range usually results in victory, but the Lancers fell despite 12-of-23 shooting from beyond the arc, including five bombs from Chelsea Coward. With the victory, the Camels avenged a 15-point loss to the Lancers in Farmville on Dec. 15

Tuesday's game

North Carolina A&T (6-6) at Liberty (7-4), 7 p.m. The Lady Flames have lost two straight and three of their last four, but they know which conference to call when they need a victory as they've won 29 straight against MEAC teams. The Lady Aggies aren't your typical MEAC lightweight as evidenced by their four-point loss at Iowa State. And they've got a dangerous weapon in Tweet Cook, who hits 50 percent of her 3-pointers. But when these Lady Flames have been better than their opponents, they've crushed them (average victory margin in their seven wins: 27.4 points). We'd be surprised if they have too much trouble putting the Lady Aggies away, especially in their first home game in a month.

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