Saturday, November 20, 2010

Norfolk State stuns, Richmond runs and guns (and wins)


Carlon Chambers, NSU

   - Spartans freshman from Herndon High made two free throws with two seconds left in overtime to lift Norfolk State to its biggest victory in years.


   - Norfolk State improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign, the Spartans' last as a Division II team.

   - On Nov. 12 at St. Paul's, Chambers missed her first two shots as a college basketball player. She's made all seven of her field-goal attempts since. 

   - Richmond's 81-75 decision over North Carolina State gave the Spiders four straight victories over ACC schools.


Told ya! - Liberty 64, Lafayette 52. We said: Liberty 78, Lafayette 50

Uh, we can explain... - Norfolk State 70, Central Arkansas 69 (OT). We said - Central Arkansas 82, Norfolk State 55. Who knew?

Saturday's record: 3-2. Overall record: 27-9


Norfolk State 70, Central Arkansas 69 (OT): Last year, Central Arkansas transformed itself from a 6-23 punching bag the year prior to a 21-8 juggernaut, marking the biggest improvement in Division I since 2004. Could these Spartans now be following that same script? Now, coach Debra Clark would probably be the first to point out that there's still a lot of work to be done. Still, given this program's abject futility of late, let's take a moment to savor the fact that the once-woebegone Spartans just went on the road and beat a quality Division I basketball team. Chambers gets the headline for draining those pressure-packed free throws. But show some love for Batavia Owens (14 points, 10 rebounds), Marian Brooks (10 points, 10 rebounds), Sarah Daily (13 points, 8 rebounds) and Rae Corbo (13 points) as well. Thanks largely to the efforts of these players, NSU fans can now proudly bellow a line they haven't been able to use about the women's basketball program for years -  "How 'bout dem Spartans!"

Richmond 81, N.C. State 75: Bet it was a blast to watch. The Spiders (3-1) sizzled from the start, making 10 of their first 11 shots and rolling to a 15-point lead at the half. As one might expect, the Wolfpack clawed their way back into it. From there, we marvel at how many huge, momentum-saving plays were made by Spiders that aren't named Brittani Shells. Don't get us wrong, Shells was magnificent once again (28 points). But whenever the Spiders needed a boost down the stretch, there was Abby Oliver drilling a 3-pointer. Or Crystal Goring gobbling up a rebound. Or Kara Powell breaking away for a layup. Or Genevieve get the point - a lot of Spiders had a say in this eye-opening victory over a well-stocked N.C. State. There's some anecdotal evidence suggesting teams that make one of those late-summer overseas tours (as Richmond did in August) tend to get off to fast starts. At first, we weren't sure what to make of it. But after seeing the way the Spiders have kicked off the 2010-11 campaign, maybe there's something to that theory after all.

Liberty 64, Lafayette 52: Jelena Antic had game-highs of 16 points and 7 rebounds as the Lady Flames (2-2) pulled away from the pesky Leopards. Happy to see they cut their turnovers down to 16, but otherwise, this was hardly vintage Liberty hoops. But it probably wasn't easy for the Lady Flames to focus completely on Lafayette knowing they would soon be boarding a plane bound for a week-long stay in Texas featuring games against No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 2 Baylor. Obviously, the Lady Flames will face ridiculously long
odds on the court. But Liberty's Danika Dale, Emily Frazier, Rachel McLeod and Tolu Omotola all hail from the Lone Star State. So even if they get humbled, there's no place like home.

Wichita State 65, George Mason 59: Nice job of keeping this one interesting by the Patriots, especially considering they had to battle without their best returning player, Brittany Poindexter. The senior guard is not listed in the boxscore; we're working on getting more details. Taleia Moton (17 points), Amber Easter (16) and Brittany Eley (14) did their best to take up Poindexter's slack as the Patriots (1-2) whittled a 15-point deficit to just three in the final minute before bowing.

James Madison 82, Central Florida 78 (OT): The Dukes (2-1) trailed by five with less than 40 seconds remaining in regulation but forced overtime on a Kiara Francisco jumper (after her huge offensive rebound) and three Dawn Evans free throws with 22 seconds left. Kanita Shepherd sealed the victory by making a layup off a feed from Evans with 15 seconds left in the extra period. Evans finished with 34 points (on 11-for-30 shooting) and 7 assists. Shepherd added 14 points and Lauren Whitehurst chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds.

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