Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday dribble: ODU vs. JMU on tap

Used to be that matchups with James Madison were about the only times Old Dominion got challenged in CAA play. This year fresh challenges have come virtually every time out, and one of the most interesting things this season has been watching the creative ways ODU comes up with to pull these games out. So today we'll get to see the CAA's best last-minute team against JMU's Dawn Evans, the conference's best last-minute player.

Sunday's games

James Madison (19-6, 9-5 CAA) at Old Dominion (14-10, 12-2 CAA), 3 p.m.
When ODU spanked JMU 67-58 in Harrisonburg on Jan. 17, Evans made just 8 of 28 shots. One might think Evans simply had an off day. But when you consider that Drexel's Gabriela Marginean got frustrated when she visited Norfolk and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne said she "couldn't hit the side of a barn" during her Constant Center appearance, you have to believe the Lady Monarchs know a thing or two about gameplanning against elite scorers. That said, if Evans gets hot she can make shots from Kenny Brooks' lap. So the bottom line is we're expecting that when we look up at the scoreboard with 20 seconds left, it'll still be anyone's game. If Evans has the ball, we like the Dukes. And if it's in Jasmine Parker's hands, brace yourself for yet another great ODU escape. By the way, this is the seventh annual Hoops for the Cure game, and fans are encouraged to wear pink to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer. The Lady Monarchs will be wearing pink uniforms and shoelaces. Also, a victory today would be ODU's 100th at the Constant Center. ODU 72, JMU 70

Delaware (16-9, 8-6 CAA) at William and Mary (11-14, 4-10 CAA), 2 p.m.
When these teams met on Feb. 4, Elena Delle Donne scored "only" 23 points. William and Mary's problem was that her teammates combined for 60 and the Tribe got routed. So maybe this time they should try paying a little less attention to Delle Donne and focus on.... Nah, that's probably not the way to go. Delaware 75, William and Mary 65

St. Joseph’s (14-10, 7-4 Atlantic 10) at Richmond (16-9, 5-5 Atlantic 10), 2 p.m.
It's as though the Spiders still haven't recovered from the 51-point beating they took at Dayton on Jan. 23. Richmond is 2-4 since, with all the losses coming by double digits. Coach Michael Shafer continues to pull levers to snap the Spiders out of it; his latest tactic was benching starters in Wednesday's 58-45 loss to St. Bonaventure. Let's hope whatever message he was sending got driven home because this team isn't going very far with Brittani Shells playing only 12 minutes. Look, there's still a really good team in there somewhere, and there's enough time left for the Spiders to still position themselves as a team no one wants to play in the A-10 tournament. But they've got to shake that Dayton hangover. Richmond 58, St. Joseph's 54

Boston College (14-12, 5-6 ACC) at Virginia Tech (13-13, 2-9 ACC), 2 p.m.
Tech spent its past two games proving it could hang with Top-10 teams Florida State and especially Duke. Now they need to make those performances pay off. For while the Hokies are clearly an improved team, that ACC record is starting to look eerily similar to the 2-12 marks of the past two seasons. It's time for Tech to make a stand, and while there are no gimmes in the ACC, the Hokies should be primed and ready for a winning effort. Virginia Tech 66, Boston College 58

VCU (17-9, 10-4 CAA) at George Mason (8-17, 1-13 CAA), 1 p.m.
It's "Pack the House Day" at the Patriot Center and, with the help of local girl scouts, the goal is to break the program's all-time attendance record (3,152). Not sure how much noise all those folks are going to make, though, as these Rams had an easy time against William and Mary Thursday and are good enough to make relatively quick work of the Patriots, too. VCU 77, George Mason 55

Saturday's recaps

Bethune-Cookman 63, Hampton 52: Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that after Monday's emotional, near-perfect performance in downing North Carolina A&T, the Lady Pirates (14-11, 9-4 MEAC) would come up a bit flat the next time out in Daytona Beach. Hampton still might have gotten away with it were it not for lights-out shooting by the Lady Wildcats (54.1 percent) that put an end to the Lady Pirates' eight-game winning streak.

Norfolk State 72, Winston-Salem State 58: The Spartans needed this. Instead of having just one player trying to carry the offensive load, the Spartans (4-18) had multiple producers (Raychele Payne, Genor Dalton, Whitney Long) for a change and dominated the hapless Lady Rams (2-24). Now let's see if they can carry this momentum forward for 48 hours and pick up their first MEAC victory on Monday when South Carolina State comes calling.

Charleston Southern 84, Radford 78: For the second straight game, the Highlanders (5-18, 4-8 Big South) wound up on the wrong end of a high-scoring shootout. This time an inability to defend the 3-pointer fueled their demise, as the Buccaneers drained 11 of 'em, including five by Kelsey Wasmer (career-high 33 points). The loss was Radford's seventh straight.

Liberty 57, Coastal Carolina 55: The Lady Flames (19-5, 9-2 Big South) led by 11 with 3:37 left before a 9-0 Coastal run made things interesting. In fact, the Lady Flames couldn't have felt too comfortable when a team that had already made nine 3-pointers had the ball with 17 seconds left down two. Liberty survived, though, and has now beaten the Chanticleers 33 straight times.

Longwood 60, Savannah State 36: Who said the Lancers can't win on the road? OK, we did. Well, we stand corrected. Saturday's win makes Longwood 2-14 in games outside of Farmville. All kidding aside, we love the way the young Lancers are finishing strong. Longwood is 4-2 in its last six games, with the losses coming to Maryland and Virginia.

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