Friday, November 26, 2010

ODU, JMU and Radford(!) win thrillers

Old Dominion 69, Louisville 65: Before we get into the heroics of the Lady Monarchs (3-1), we'll give ourselves a pat on the back for our almost bullseye prediction of 69-63 ODU. The momentum changed in this one more times than ESPN has mentioned UConn's win streak in the last month. The Cardinals (3-3) settled for the 3 and only converted 5 of 21 attempts. Jasmine Parker continued her marvelous play with 24 points and nailed the final two free throws to preserve the win. Tia Lewis wasn't too shabby, either, with 15 points and 10 boards. We can picture the smile on Wendy Larry's face at the thought of a CAA team downing a Big East power.

James Madison 76, Montana 69 OT
It looked as if it was going to be another dismal day for the state's team in the tropics, when lo and behold the Dukes rallied from 14 down to win going away. Dawn Evans was the Dukes' high scorer with 24 points on 6-of-24 shooting, but it was Courtney Hamner who delivered in OT. The senior drained back to back 3s to open OT and finished with 15 points. More good news for the Dukes post game that had been MIA so far this season: Lauren Jimenez scored 18 of her own and nabbed eight boards. Dukes get to come home on a feel-good note and prepare for, yikes, Duke on Tuesday night.

Radford 63, George Mason 56: We'll admit, we didn't see this coming. Apparently neither did the Patriots, who led by 15 in the second half in their own building before getting outscored 31-9 over the final 10:11.  Da'Naria Erwin Spencer and Brooke McElroy combined for 25 points after intermission. But Radford coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba happily spread the credit around. "We showed a lot of composure tonight and received positive contributions from every single player that stepped on the court. We buckled down and held George Mason to one shot on several possessions." The loss should be particularly stinging to the Patriots since their coach, Jeri Porter, and three of her assistants came from Radford - you have to know they did not want to lose this game. The larger lesson, of course, is that when you have an opponent down, step on their throats. As for Radford, we were starting to worry that this season was looking a lot like the 6-win 2009-10 campaign, so we're thrilled to see these guys say, take this, Ladyswish. And if the Highlanders can apply Saturday night's second-half effort over an entire 40-minutes, look out, world.

UCF 79, Richmond 53: Even under ideal circumstances, playing the Knights in their home opener and their own tournament was going to be tough. Then you get only four points from Brittani Shells? No chance. Earlier this week, Spiders coach Michael Shafer indicated that Shells had been under the weather, and he managed her minutes on Tuesday against Hampton. That fact that Shells played just 17 minutes Friday suggests she still may not be feeling well. Freshman Genevieve Okoro had 11 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes and Crystal Goring had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in an otherwise forgettable afternoon in Orlando. Hope Shells is feeling better Saturday, especially since the Spiders have to face No. 25 Michigan State.

No. 10 West Virginia 57, Virginia 43: A simple formula explains this one - 30-percent shooting plus 0-for-11 3-pointers plus 29 turnovers equals, oh, about 43 points. But this is what we were afraid of, right? All offseason we wondered if the Cavaliers could score enough points without Monica Wright. Early signs were positive. But now here we are six games in and for the second game in a row the Cavaliers fail to break 50. Granted, they're playing tough teams. But the ACC is full of tough teams. This is the level at which the Cavaliers must be able to execute to finish in the top half of their conference. Again, this team has shown flashes and there's still time to get it together. Let's see what they can do Saturday against TCU. Back to Friday's game, Chelsea Shine had 12 points and 8 rebounds and Paulisha Kellam added 10 points (on 2 of 12 shooting) for Virginia. The Cavaliers were down by just one at halftime (27-26), but went the first 10:28 after intermission without a field goal.

Bradley 65, William and Mary 62: Admirable effort by the Tribe, who nearly came back despite trailing by 18. The good news is W&M might have found the scoring the Tribe has been lacking in freshman Kaitlyn Mathieu. The freshman center came off the bench for 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Bradley turned it over 29 times, but W&M coundn't hang with Bradley at the free-throw line (Braves were 20 of 27).

No. 20 Iowa 72, Virginia Tech 43: Took this paragraph straight from the Hokies' official release on this game: Tech (4-2), which was hit with 13 three-point baskets on Thursday in a 73-65 loss to Florida Gulf Coast, saw the Hawkeyes nail a school-record 12 treys in Friday’s contest. In the two games, the Hokies allowed 25 baskets from behind the arc while hitting only five. Guess we know what these guys will be working on in practice this week.

No. 2 Baylor 81, Liberty 42: The Lady Flames (2-4) brought out the best in Baylor star Brittney Griner - a career-high 35 points, 9 rebounds and 7 blocks. The 7 blocks tied for the most ever by a Liberty opponent, and the margin of defeat was the Lady Flames' largest since an 87-36 setback at North Carolina on Nov. 21, 2005.

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