Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friday dribble: Dawn vs. Delle Donne worth the hype

After reviewing the tapes of the myriad of ways Delaware's Elena Delle Donne can put points on the board, James Madison coach Kenny Brooks said he turned to his assistants and remarked, "She could very well get 50 tonight." Boy, was he wrong.

James Madison 88, Delaware 83 (OT): Brooks' Dukes survived one of the greatest scoring nights in Division I history, as Delle Donne lit 'em up for 54 points and singlehandedly forced the extra period by draining two 3-pointers in the final 9.3 seconds of regulation. "I now know what it's like to coach against Kobe Bryant," Brooks said. "She was unstoppable." Good thing the Dukes were unflappable. Instead of whining about why this kid didn't just stay at UConn, the Dukes got tough in OT and held the Blue Hens scoreless for nearly four minutes. Meanwhile, JMU's remarkable Dawn Evans scored 10 of her school record-tying 38 points in the extra period to finally slay the great Delle Donne. The victory put the Dukes (19-6, 9-5 CAA) alone in fourth place in the CAA race, a pivotal spot since the top four teams receive first-round byes in the conference tournament. Meanwhile, it was yet another heartbreaking loss for Delaware (16-9, 8-6 CAA), whose six conference losses are all either in overtime or by two points or less. Delle Donne did all she could, though. In fact, scoring-wise she did more than just about anyone else has ever done. "She's the best player I've ever had to prepare for, man or woman," Brooks said. Problem is, even Kobe Bryant needs help.

Old Dominion 63, Georgia State 61: Good thing Jasmine Parker has eyes for Tia Lewis, and vice versa, because that's how the first-place Lady Monarchs (14-10, 12-2 CAA) stole victory Thursday night and survived another nailbiter. Trailing by a point with 7.3 seconds left, Jasmine Parker dribbled the length of the court and fed Tia Lewis for a game-winning layup with 0.6 seconds left. As Parker continued her mad dash to the hoop it appeared as though she was driving into a dead end. But on the postgame radio show, Lewis indicated that she and Parker made eye contact and she was ready and waiting for Parker's feed. We'll buy Lewis' story, especially since it worked. We're also buying ODU's remarkable ability to finish out these close games, as they're now 8-1 in CAA games decided by single digits. So get your tickets early for Sunday's showdown against JMU, and plan on sticking around until the end. With this team, that's when all the exciting stuff goes down.

No. 10 Florida State 78, Virginia Tech 68: Not exactly the type of game we were expecting; we thought Tech would struggle to score against the typically stingy Seminoles. So while Florida State held a comfortable lead throughout most of the second half, credit the Hokies (13-13, 2-9 ACC) for acquitting themselves fairly well on the road against one of the nation's best teams. Coming on the heels of Sunday's performance against Duke, that's two straight respectable showings against Top-10 opponents. Another effort like this Sunday at home against Boston College should put an end to Tech's six-game conference losing streak.

VCU 83, William and Mary 58: Just what the Rams needed, a laugher in which they wouldn't have to put a lot of high mileage on the treds of their starters. Eleven VCU players saw action - only six played Sunday against Drexel - and none of them played more than 29 minutes. It was pretty much a disaster on the other side, thanks in large part to a fatal cocktail of pressure by VCU (17-9, 10-4 CAA) and sloppiness by W&M (11-14, 4-10 CAA). Key stat is this regard: the Rams scored 33 points off 24 Tribe turnovers.

Hofstra 59, George Mason 49: Competitive road effort by the Patriots (8-17, 1-13 CAA), who to their credit haven't given up as their season's turned sour. Two weeks ago, the Pride won by 33 points when the teams met in Fairfax. But they had no answers for Hofstra's low-post terrors Shante Evans and Jess Fuller, who combined for 35 points and 18 rebounds (17 by Evans).

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