Saturday, December 18, 2010

Virginia Tech, Norfolk State work overtime for wins


Shanel Harrison, Virginia Tech

Junior guard's career-high 25 point game included a game-tying 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in regulation as the Hokies outlasted VCU in double-overtime.


   - Liberty lost by two points, JMU by 3, Norfolk State won by 5 and Radford fell by 6. But in the closest game of the day, Virginia Tech won by...16?.

   - Dawn Evans has now scored 2,125 points and is JMU's all-time leading scorer.

   - VCU's Courtney Hurt went for 31 points and 16 rebounds in a 10-point victory over Longwood.

   - Virginia's injury-plagued point guard China Crosby saw her first action (11 minutes) since Nov. 12 Saturday during the Cavaliers' 15-point decision over UMBC.


Told ya! - VCU 79, Longwood 69. We said - VCU 82, Longwood 72.

Uh, we can explain... - N.C. Central 50, Liberty 48. We said - Liberty 72, N.C. Central 53

Today's record - 5-2. Overall record - 77-24.

Special shoutout to ex-JMU assistant and current Furman head coach Jackie Carson as her Paladins stunned Appalachian State 63-62 when senior forward Kendra Berry rattled the first 3-pointer of her career with 2.3 seconds remaining.


Virginia Tech 94, William and Mary 78 (2OT)
The Hokies led by 13 at the beginning and were up 16 at the this must not have been much of a game, right? Yeah, and Donovan McNabb will be a Redskin next year. The best thing about this one is there were so many offensive heroes, on both sides. Coaches are always preaching defense, and rightfully so. But as consumers of basketball, we kind of like to see the ball going through the net. Unfazed by their slow start, the Tribe gradually gradually found a rhythm, then began flat-out taking the Hokies to school en route to a 12-point second-half lead. The Hokies fought back with mini-runs, but the Tribe responded each time, the last two with back-to-back 3-pointers by Katherine DeHenzel. Tech finally answered with a couple of 3-point bombs of their own, one by Aerial Wilson with 45 seconds left to get the Hokies to within 3, and another from Harrison with 3.4 seconds left to level things at 71. Tech's superior depth was starting to show by this point, and the Hokies seemed set to win it after one overtime with Alyssa Fenyn, who had made 10 of 12 free throws on the season, at the line for two shots with the game tied at 76 and just 2.2 seconds left. But the sophomore apparently had a freshman flashback (she made just 55 percent of her free throws last season) and missed 'em both. The Hokies didn't sweat it, though, and poured it on in the second OT as the exhausted Tribe finally let go of the rope. In addition to Harrison's big day, Nikki Davis had 16 points and 12 assists. Meanwhile, DeHenzel and freshman star Kaitlyn Mathieu each scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures for the snake-bitten Tribe (1-7), who now have two overtime losses in their last three games. As for the Hokies, Saturday's great escape prevents them from having a lot of explaining to do. No disrespect to the Tribe, but most people don't see these games. They would simply look at the score and say, you lost to who?  No need to worry about that now. In fact, the manner in which Tech pulled it out should infuse the Hokies with confidence on other nights when things aren't going their way. 

Monmouth 69, James Madison 66: On Thanksgiving Day, Dawn Evans joined the 2,000 career points club during a loss to Iowa. Saturday, she broke Tamera Young's all-time school record for points (2,121) while falling to Monmouth. One of these days, Evans is going to get to really enjoy one of these milestones. Evans shook off a slow start to finish with 31 points on 12-of-28 shooting. As good as she was, though, we kind of wish we'd seen a little more of Lauren Jimenez. The senior center had a monster night with 20 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks. But she attempted just two shots over the final 11 minutes. Either Monmouth figured out how to defense her, the Dukes (5-5) stopped looking for her or Jimenez wore down. Whatever the case, it certainly couldn't have hurt for Jimenez to have a little more say in things down the stretch on a night when only she and Evans were feeling it - no other JMU player scored more than five points. None of this should diminish the efforts of Monmouth, which has quietly fashioned a seven-game winning streak. Whoever those people are that rank the top mid-major teams better recognize.

N.C. Central 50, Liberty 48: Obviously we didn't expect this. Then again, the Lady Flames went into the game averaging 47.8 points per game this season against Division I competition so there was some foreshadowing that Liberty (3-6) may not be able to scrounge up enough points. We thought the return of Devon Brown would jump-start the offense, but remember, Brown scored 17 in her debut against JMU and the Lady Flames were still stuck on 51 points. We identified turnovers as a big issue, but Liberty had "only" 16 of them against N.C. Central (2-8). We're not sure why, but this team is simply prone to large stretches when it can't throw it in the ocean. So is this a disappointing result? Sure. But shocking? Not really. Until Liberty works itself out of its offensive funk, the Lady Flames figure to be vulnerable against just about anyone they play.

Norfolk State 75, McNeese State 70 (OT): It's not always how many you score, but when you score them. Than was the case with Spartans sophomore Batavia Owens, who drained two free throws with 12 seconds left in regulation, then scored six of her 12 points in overtime as the Spartans (5-3) notched one more victory in eight games than they managed all of last season. Canny scheduling accounts for some of it, but full credit to these Spartans for competing in a way that few of the NSU teams in the Division I era - and none over the last few years - could manage. Whitney Long broke the 20-point mark for the second straight game with 22 (Owens and Long were also a combined 10-of-10 from the free throw line).

VCU 79, Longwood 69: Took this line directly from VCU's official report on the contest: VCU went a season-high 29 of 37 from the line, while Longwood attempted a season-low eight free throws (5 of 8). Sums up things rather well, don't you think? Credit the Lancers for giving the Rams what-for for about 30 minutes. And isn't it about time we put VCU's Hurt alongside Dawn Evans and Elena Delle Donne on that extremely short CAA Player of the Year Watch List?

USC-Upstate 87, Radford 81: Tough to win a shootout against the high-scoring Spartans, particularly when they're also making a ton of free throws (28 of 39). Huge effort in defeat from Radford's Brooke McElroy, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Da'Naria Erwin Spencer also had 18 points and 8 assists for the Highlanders (3-7). Radford fell despite forcing 31 turnovers.

Virginia 61, UMBC 46: Game featured another nice effort from freshman Ataira Franklin, who in her third  career start contributed 15 points (4-6 FGs, 2-3 3FG and 5-6 FTs) and 5 rebounds. Sophomore center Simone Egwu added 16 points and 8 rebounds and Chelsea Shine had 11 points as the Cavaliers (7-4) prevailed in their first game since Dec. 6.

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