Saturday, December 31, 2011

Liberty survives 39 turnovers, downs Radford in Big South opener

Saturday's games

Liberty 76, Radford 68: How do you commit 39 turnovers - and surrender 42 points off those turnovers - and still win a basketball game? Until a couple of hours ago, we thought the only answer to that question was, you can't. Shows what we know. It helped that Liberty shot 60.5 from the field, dominated the glass (41-23 rebounding edge) and made its free throws (the Lady Flames' last 13 points came from the line) down the stretch. The game turned early in the second half when a Devon Brown jumper snapped a 34-34 tie and kicked off a 16-0 Liberty run. And the Lady Flames needed that kind of cushion as Highlanders star Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led a furious Radford rally that closed the deficit to six. Erwin Spencer scored all 12 of her points in the final 4:45. Ashley Buckhannon finished with a career high 25 points for Radford (6-6, 0-1 Big  South). Brown paced Liberty (6-6, 1-0) with 19 points, freshman point guard Reagan Miller offset her 11 turnovers with 16 points, Avery Warley had 14 points and 10 boards and LaKendra Washington chipped in 10 points as 283 fans saw the Lady Flames pull off something that almost doesn't seem possible. I mean, 39 turnovers, against a Division I team, and you still win? Get out of here.

Other notes:

- The loss was Radford's first in its last 7 Big South openers;

- Eight of the nine Lady Flames that played committed at least three turnovers;

- Five Highlanders had at least three steals (The team finished with 25, Sarah Tabb led the way with seven).

- Liberty's 39 turnovers tied their most as a Division I program. The Lady Flames also had 39 against UNC Asheville on Jan. 13, 1996.

- Warley needs just three rebounds to pass Katie Feenstra (1,033) for the most in program history.

In Saturday's other game:

Appalachian State 64, Longwood 54: Final score aside, this was actually an encouraging effort for the Lancers, who after falling behind by 25 late in the first half scored the final five points before intermission, then outscored the Mountaineers by 10 over the final 20 minutes. Crystal Smith scored 16 of her team-high 20 points after the break and Brittanni Billups added 14 for the Lancers (2-13), who will play at home for the first time in eight games Monday against Coppin State. Anna Freeman had 18 points and became the 21st Appalachian State player to crack the 1,000-point barrier. Freshman Maryah Sydnor, who originally committed to Longwood, had 4 points and 3 rebounds in 11 minutes for AppState (9-2).

Liberty visits Radford in Big South opener

Saturday's games

Liberty (5-6) at Radford (6-5), 4:30 p.m.
Marquee Big South opener featuring the teams seeded first (Liberty) and second (Radford) in last season's conference tournament. The teams split their two meetings last season, with each winning in the other's building. Radford scored a whopping 34 points off 29 Liberty turnovers in rallying for a 62-53 victory at Liberty. A few weeks later, the Highlanders scored just 6 points off turnovers and got spanked 66-50 on Senior Day at Radford. Liberty remains one of the most turnover-prone teams in Division I, and the Highlanders are built to come after teams defensively. Whichever team wins this battle will probably win the game. Also, which Liberty typically enjoys a huge rebounding edge in this matchup - or just about any other matchup, for that matter - Victoria Hamilton (7.6 rpg) and Sarah Tabb (6.1) have helped the Highlanders become surprisingly competitive on the boards this season. Don't be surprised if Radford can at least hold its own when balls come off the rim today. The Lady Flames haven't played in 11 days, but while that suggests they may be rusty it also means they have a lot of time to just work on themselves. Radford is 4-1 at home this season, but the loss came in their last outing, an 81-68 setback to Davidson on Dec. 22. From Liberty's information-rich game notes: Liberty star Avery Warley needs just 13 rebounds to break the great Katie Feenstra's program record of 1,033 career boards. A year ago, she averaged 13.5 rebounds in two games against Radford. Our pick? The Highlanders typically open conference play with a bang, and figure to be ticked off at how the Lady Flames knocked them around last season on their Senior Day. This one can certainly go either way, but our sense is Radford will force just enough mistakes to prevail. Radford 60, Liberty 59

In Saturday's other game:

Longwood (2-12) at Appalachian State (8-2), noon
The Mountaineers are no Notre Dame, but they're plenty good enough to pose problems for the Lancers, who are playing their seventh straight game away from home. Longwood is 0-6 during this stretch and 0-20 away from Willett Hall since a 76-66 victory at UNC Asheville on Jan. 24, 2011. Appalachian State features freshman Maryah Sydnor, the former Radford High star who originally committed to Longwood before changing her mind after then-Lancers coach Kristin Caruso was fired. Sydnor is averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes this season. Appalachian State 78, Longwood 58

Richmond takes Lehigh title; W&M and JMU also prevail

Friday's games:

St. Bonaventure 58, Norfolk State 44: The Spartans caught Bonnies sharpshooter Jessica Jenkins on the wrong day. After going 0-for-8 from 3-point range 24 hours earlier in a loss to Villanova, Jenkins nailed 8 of 10 from long range on her way to a game-high 24 points to bury NSU. Seven of those treys came in the first half - 4 in the final 1:52 - as the Bonnies (12-2) surged to a 40-22 halftime lead. The Spartans actually got the better of play after the break, outscoring the Bonnies 22-18 and forcing 14 turnovers. But it's tough to make up a lot of ground when you shoot just 29.8 percent from the field over the 40 minutes. Whitney Long had a team-high 10 points for the Spartans, who lost their fifth straight game. All in all, though, it was a solid effort against a very good team.

Richmond 71, Lehigh 49: America's best basketball walk-on did it again. Red-hot Becca Wann notched her first career double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) and nabbed tournament MVP honors as the Spiders cruised to Lehigh Christmas Classic title. Abby Oliver scored a game-high 21 points and also made the all-tournament team. The victory was Richmond's sixth straight and improved the Spiders'  record to 12-2. It's their best start to a season since 2004-05.

James Madison 77, Rhode Island 42: The Dukes led just 12-10 at the 12:42 mark before sprinting off on a 22-4 run. Jasmine Gill scored 18 points to lead four Dukes in double figures. Tarik Hislop added 13 points, Kirby Burkholder 12 and Lauren Whitehurst 10 for JMU (8-3). The Rams, meanwhile, fell to 1-13.

William and Mary 81, Elizabeth City State 70: Emily Correal was a beast on the low block, racking up a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds. Taysha Pye added 20 points, 18 in the second half, as the Tribe (7-5) closed out their non-conference schedule in style.  Shatara Jackson scored 23 points to lead pesky ECSU, which closed to within five with 7:27 to play.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oops. Sorry about that, folks

A few hours ago, I (Paul White) wrote what I thought was a lighthearted post regarding the Top 10 reasons Old Dominion could win the CAA. They weren't serious reasons; my intent was to try to lighten the mood a bit and have some fun with a difficult situation. It was not to put down the team or the players. That's never my intent; I enjoy the teams, the individuals involved and the sport way too much for that.

Unfortunately, it didn't come off that way. The one comment we got was along the lines of, "What the hell are you doing?" And when Vicki saw it, she was like, "What the hell are you doing?"

So, what the hell was I doing? Again, I intended it to be all in fun. But if that' not clear to the readers, then I've done the wrong thing. So I've taken the post down, and I'm officially out of the Top 10 reasons business.

To the anonymous person who sent in that comment, thanks for setting me straight. And my sincere apologies to Old Dominion's team, players and coaches, and anyone else that took similar offense.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Virginia takes title; Richmond outduels JMU

Virginia 53, UMass 38: The Minutewomen made the Cavaliers work for their eighth straight Cavalier Classic title, as they were down by just two early in the second half and still within three at 41-38 with 8:08 remaining. But as you can tell by that final score, UMass didn't score another point. Virginia won't win any prizes for its own offensive showing, as the Cavaliers shot just 32.7 percent for the game (23 percent in the second half). But if the other team isn't scoring at all.... Ariana Moorer (11 points, 7 steals) was named tournament MVP and Ataira Franklin (7 points on 3 of 13 shooting) joined her on the all-tournament team. OK, so it's not always pretty. In fact, it's rarely pretty. But on Nov. 11, how many of you had this team entering 2012 with a 12-2 overall record and a 9-0 mark at home that includes a win over Tennessee? So now, bring on the ACC, right? Emilie Teuschler scored 11 points to lead UMass (5-9), but former Old Dominion guard Carolann Cloutier was held scoreless in 38 minutes and committed 7 of her team's 28 turnovers. Cloutier did have 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Richmond 74, James Madison 66: Despite being one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams, the Spiders (11-2) went into attack-the-rim mode against the Dukes and rode a 27-point, 10-rebound effort from Genevieve Okoro to their fifth straight victory. All 11 of the Spiders' first-half field goals came on layups, and they didn't splash their first 3-pointer until Becca Wann knocked one down with 12:41 left in the second half. Wann, America's best basketball walk-on, continued her recent surge with 17 points on 5-of-6 field goal, 6-of-6 free throw shooting. The soccer All-American is averaging 16.3 points over her last three games. Richmond's aggressiveness also led to 33 free throw attempts, with the Spiders converting 25. For the Dukes, Kiara Francisco came off the bench and delivered a career-high 20 points and 7 rebounds. Francisco scored 6 of her points during an 8-3 JMU run that got the Dukes (7-3) to within 43-42 with 11:24 left. But Richmond responded with 13 of the next 15 points to effectively settle things. In Friday's final, the Spiders will face host Lehigh (7-6) at 7:30 p.m. The Dukes will go against hapless Rhode Island (1-12) at 5 p.m.

Virginia Tech 57, UMBC 52: Tech coach Dennis Wolff was hoping that the intensity his team displayed in shaving a 25-point deficit to single digits against Cincinnati on Wednesday would carry over. Looks like it did, with a big assist from super-active freshman Larryqua Hall (a career-high 11 rebounds). "Larryqua has worked like crazy and her energy level really got us going several times," Wolff said. Monet Tellier led Tech scorers with 18 points and Latorri Hines-Allen and 9 points and 7 rebounds. Brittany Crowell, formerly of James Madison, scored 16 points for the Retrievers. It was Tech's first appearance in the consolation game in 22 years of Hokie Classics, and the Hokies (4-9) certainly hope it's their last. But at least they salvaged some pride. In the championship game, Cincinnati throttled High Point 62-40.

Tulane 66, Hampton 53: Jericka Jenkins went for 28 points, but it was a otherwise difficult offensive night for the Lady Pirates in the final of Tulane's Doubletree Classic. Hampton shot just 29.8 percent for the game and no other Lady Pirate finished in double figures. Hampton's defense kept them in it for a while, but Tulane shot 51 percent in the second half, and guard Olivia Grayson scored 24 of her team-high 26 points in the final 20 minutes as the Green Wave won their own tournament for the fourth straight year. The Lady Pirates also weren't thrilled with some of the foul calls, particularly during a second-half stretch in which they were whistled for nine straight infractions before the Green Wave picked up one. When the next call when against Hampton, Lady Pirates coach David Six voiced his displeasure and picked up a technical. Tulane made 3 of 4 free throws as a result (2 FTs for the foul, 2 for the technical), and increased their lead from 6 to 9 points with just 2:19 remaining. "I thought it was a costly technical," Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. "We got to the free throw line, it was a distraction for a second and we had the free throws. I thought that really cost them because they had the momentum at that point." Center Brett Benzio added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Tulane (11-2). Ariel Phelps had 8 points and 10 rebounds for Hampton (9-3). Jenkins and Phelps were named to the all-tournament team; Grayson was selected tournament MVP.

No. 12 Miami 91, VCU 61: VCU starting guards Christina Carter, a freshman, and Carleeda Green, a junior-college transfer, figured to be in extremely deep waters against the super-disruptive Hurricane defense. Green and Carter finished with a combined 19 of VCU's 30 turnovers, and the Hurricanes scored 32 points off Rams mistakes to cruise to their holiday tournament title and their 32nd straight victory at home. Not surprisingly, though, the event wasn't too big for Rams star Courtney Hurt, who finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds and made the all-tournament team.

Ohio 75, George Mason 59: Taleia Moton scored 25 points, but the Patriots' typically stingy defense was torched for 52.8 percent shooting by five double-digit scorers for Ohio. The Bobcats also turned it over only 10 times, and hit 14 of 17 free throws. We're sure the Patriots can play better. But sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other guys.

Monmouth 69, Norfolk State 62: Batavia Owens came off the bench and produced 12 points and 13 rebounds. But it was a tough day for the Spartans starters. Leading scorer Whitney Long (9 points) was just 3 of 17 from the field and the two other Spartans that average in double figures, Rae Corbo and Rachel Gordon, each played just 17 minutes. Even so, NSU were in position to steal this one tied at 53 with 4:40 left. But Monmouth scored 9 of the next 10 points, then salted the game away by making 7 of 8 free throws in the final 52 seconds. The Spartans (5-6) have now lost four straight and will conclude play in the Hawks Holiday Classic today against probably the toughest foe they've faced this season, St. Bonaventure (11-2).

Richmond and JMU tangle in Pennsylvania to highlight Thursday's action

Thursday's games:

Richmond (10-2) vs. James Madison (7-2) in Lehigh Christmas Classic, 5 p.m.
We're subtitling this tournament the Rachel Conelly Invitational in honor of the senior center and tallest of all Dukes who starred in high school some 50 miles away at Marian Catholic. Speaking of the Dukes, doesn't it seem like they haven't played in a month and a half? The fact that they've played just twice since Dec. 8 no doubt has something to do with that feeling. But their last outing was in some respects their most impressive - at least for the first 25 minutes - as the Dukes pretty thoroughly outplayed Virginia in Charlottesville before succumbing to foul trouble and the Cavaliers' resilience down the stretch. The Spiders, meanwhile, have won four straight and are coming off last week's impressive win over a quality Hartford team. Richmond has a variety of weapons and can shoot the ball like crazy, but something tells us the Dukes are going to defend the Spiders as well as they've been defended all season. Really difficult to make a call on this one.... Slight edge to the Spiders, I guess, but after the way the Dukes handled themselves against Virginia, JMU certainly has the goods to come away winners. Richmond 72, JMU 70

By the way, I was talking to my 19-year-old daughter about Richmond's Becca Wann, the soccer All-American and Division I's best basketball walk-on:

Me: She's the Bo Jackson of women's college sports.
Her: Who's Bo Jackson?
Me: Huh? Never mind.... Say, can you hand me that cane over there? I'm feeling old all of a sudden....

Hampton (9-2) at Tulane (10-2) in Doubletree Classic, 9 p.m.
Extremely impressive performance by the Lady Pirates Wednesday, when they overwhelmed a pretty good Central Michigan team 77-51 to move into today's final. It was especially nice to see the contributions of forward Ariel Phelps, who notched her second double-double (11 points, 13 rebounds) to complement the usual solid production of Choicetta McMillian (17 points) and Jericka Jenkins (16 points, 7 assists). Today's final pits two defense-first teams, and a case can be made that playing this game at Tulane is the toughest assignment on Hampton's non-league schedule. Tournament play tends to bring out the best in the Lady Pirates, though. Hampton 60, Tulane 55

VCU (8-3) at. Miami (10-2) in Miami Tournament, 7 p.m.
If only this game was being played somewhere besides Coral Gables, Fla. Over the past two seasons, the Hurricanes are just 11-7 in road/neutral contests. In their last road contest, they lost by 25 at Georgetown. Heck, even Longwood did better than that. At home, though, Miami is 7-0 this season, was 20-0 last season and have won 31 straight. If the Rams pull this off, it'll shock the world. No matter what the result, we figure Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour will get theirs. Game serves as kind of an ultimate test for Rams freshman point guard Christina Carter as Miami features arguably the nation's best backcourt tandem in Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams. Miami 88, VCU 78

UMass (5-8) at Virginia (11-2), Marriott Cavalier Classic, 7 p.m.
No disrespect to these Minutewomen, but when Joanne Boyle is making up her to-do list for the 2012-13 season, how 'bout beefing up the field for the next Cavalier Classic? Virginia 84, UMass 47

UMBC (6-6) at Virginia Tech (3-9) in Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Classic, 7 p.m.
The Hokies have never gone 0-2 in their own tournament. Then again, they had never lost the first game, either, until last night's 66-55 loss to Cincinnati. Tech coach Dennis Wolff questioned the team's effort level over the first 25 minutes against the Bearcats, so let's hope the Hokies are ready from the jump tonight. Virginia Tech 56, UMBC 52

Norfolk State (5-5) at Monmouth (3-8) in Hawk Holiday Classic, 2 p.m.
Since the other two teams in this field are Villanova (9-2) and St. Bonaventure (11-1), clearly Monmouth invited Norfolk State to give them their best shot of winning their opener. This knowledge should fire the Spartans up. Norfolk State 65, Monmouth 64

George Mason (7-3) at Ohio (6-7), 7 p.m.
The Patriots prevailed by 16 points when these teams met a year ago in Fairfax. The Patriots have played just once - a Dec. 22 victory over George Washington - since Dec. 8 so they've had a chance to work on things, most notably how to attack the kinds of zone defenses they will almost certainly see in the future. Both UMBC and Maryland had success slowing Taleia Moton and the Patriots offense by going zone, and while we're not sure what GW played, the fact that the Patriots shot just 30.6 percent from the field suggests they probably went zone, too. George Washington 55, Ohio 49

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cavaliers roll on otherwise tough day for area schools

Wednesday's results:

Virginia 84, Wagner 41: The Cavaliers tied a program record with 26 steals to cruise into the title game of their own tournament. Ariana Moorer scored 23 points to lead Virginia, which scored more points off turnovers (42) than Wagner scored points. Ataira Frankin added 19 points and Simone Egwu had 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Cavaliers played without guard China Crosby, who will sit out this tournament with a knee injury. Virginia will face UMass in today's title game at 7 p.m. UMass held off Elon 76-56 in Wednesday's other semifinal.

Cincinnati 66, Virginia Tech 55: The Hokies had never lost their first game in their own tournament, but an inspired effort over the final 12 minutes couldn't prevent them from being resigned to the consolation game of the Hokie Classic for the first time in the event's 22-year history. Tech fell behind 50-25 before their intensity light came on. "We didn't play for 28 minutes and then we played extremely hard for 12 minutes," Hokies coach Dennis Wolff said. "We need to try to play with that type of passion the whole time." The Hokies (3-9) will face UMBC in Thursday's 7 p.m. consolation game. High Point and Cincinnati will tangle for the title.

No. 3 Notre Dame 92, Longwood 26: Got to hand it to Fighting Irish fans, as a sellout crowd of 9,149 turned out for this weekday matinee. The team didn't disappoint them, either, roaring out to a 27-0 lead and continuing to tear through the Lancers. Brittanni Billups led the Lancers with 8 points and freshman walk-on Megan Baltzell, on loan from Longwood's softball team, chipped in 6 points and 4 rebounds. Forget the final score. Longwood got to experience a big-time atmosphere. Lancers assistant Lindsay Schrader, a former Notre Dame star, got to hook up with her former coach, ex-teammates and old friends. The Lancers never win on the road, anyway. So it's all good.

No. 8 Tennessee 90, Old Dominion 37: Jackie Cook scored 13 points and Tia Lewis added 8 for the Lady Monarchs (3-10), who led 8-7 before the roof caved in. There was apparently no give-up in the Lady Monarchs, which obviously is a good thing. But the fact that they battled hard and still lost by 53 makes a compelling case for putting this storied series on hiatus for awhile.

George Washington 74, William and Mary 66: We didn't see this coming. No, seriously, we never put it on our master schedule. We REALLY didn't see it coming. If we had seen it coming, we'd have figured the Tribe would have enough at home to get the win. Credit the Colonials, led by former Forest Park High star Danni Jackson (22 points), for jumping out quickly, then continually staging mini-runs whenever William and Mary would close in. Janine Aldridge led the Tribe hit 5 3-pointers and scored 20 points, and Emily Correal had 13 points and 13 rebounds. But Katherine DeHenzel went 0 for 7 from the field and had 6 turnovers, and All-CAA guard Taysha Pye had just 4 points and 4 turnovers in 13 minutes off the bench.

Hampton 77, Central Michigan 51: Details coming.....

Click here for details on the dominating effort by VCU's Courtney Hurt in a victory over Morgan State.

Other games of note:

Delaware 60, East Carolina 40: The Blue Hens (10-0) stormed to a 35-10 halftime lead and cruised into today's much-anticipated showdown of unbeatens at Maryland (12-0) in the final of the Terrapin Classic. Elena Delle Donne led the winners with 22 points; Britny Edwards, formerly of Virginia, had 6 points and 8 rebounds for ECU.

Middle Tennessee State 70, No. 6 Kentucky 58: Result should provide a nice RPI boost for James Madison, which defeated MTSU on Nov. 20 in Harrisonburg.

VCU's Hurt: 32 points, 21 rebounds

Please, Courtney, don't Hurt 'em!

Too late. It's already in the books, a 32-point, 21-rebound domination the Rams star unleashed on Morgan State during a 73-52 victory Wednesday in the opening round of the Miami Holiday Tournament in Coral Gables, Fla.

It's the latest - and perhaps most eye-popping - of a string of quality outings from Hurt, who earlier this season scorched UMKC for 40 points and had 30 and 16 10 days ago against Coppin State. For the season Hurt is averaging 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds, essentially the same level of production she delivered during her All-American junior campaign (23.2 points, 12.4 rebounds).

Rams teammate Andrea Barbour's line - 23 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals - wasn't too shabby either. And yes, your math is correct - Hurt and Barbour outscored Morgan State all by themselves.

The victory was VCU's fifth straight and third in a row against a MEAC school. It'll get a lot tougher Thursday, though, as the Rams (8-3) will face the 12th-ranked host school in the title game in a building where the Hurricanes have won 31 straight games.

Skylar Diggins practically a Virginian .....

What does the most decorated point guard in the country -- that would be Notre Dame's No. 4 -- have to do with anything in Virginia? Well, folks, we had to do some digging, real excavation, mind you, to find out. First of all, why do we want to know?

Cause it's Longwood at Notre Dame at 2 pm on Wednesday, which is Diggins' first turn against a team from the Commonwealth.

What else links Ms. Skylar to Virginia women's basketball?

*Diggins, as you know, is an All-American for the Irish, and speaking of decorated Notre Dame players, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Beth Cunningham, the former Beth Morgan at ND. VCU's head coach is the all-time leading scorer at Notre Dame.

*Diggins' Notre Dame team played in the Paradise Jam in 2009-10. Loose connection, we know, but Old Dominion just played in the Paradise Jam in 2011.

*Diggins was never teammates with Lindsay Schrader, now an assistant coach at Longwood, but both were first team Big East performers.

*Diggins was oh-so-close to breaking the steals record this past summer at the World University Games in China, but you know who holds that mark. That would be former ODU assistant Alisa Scott (who's tied with Teresa Weatherspoon for it).

*Diggins won the Powerade Jame Girls' 3-Point Shot title, besting Suffolk, Virginia's own Sugar Rodgers.

*Diggins is buddies with former ODU point guard Ticha Penicheiro. TP wished her a Merry Christmas.

*Diggins became an overnight sensation in social media after Lil Wayne referred to her as "my wife" during last year's NCAA Tournament. Whatya know? Lil Wayne played Virginia Beach last summer.

*Diggins as SkyDigg4 has 132,182 followers on Twitter. LadySwish would love to have 132,182 followers on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virginia, Virginia Tech host holiday tournaments; ODU, Longwood visit heavyweight foes

Holiday break's over - we hope everyone enjoyed theirs - and now it's back to the hardwood:

Wednesday's games:

Longwood (2-11) at No. 3 Notre Dame (11-1), 2 p.m.
Lancers first-year assistant coach Lindsay Schrader was an All-American at Notre Dame two years ago and shared the backcourt with Fighting Irish star Skylar Diggins, so if nothing else the Lancers should have received an expert scouting report. Of course, carrying it out is the tricky part. Longwood players will also get to experience one of the sport's great game-day atmospheres, as Notre Dame has averaged 8,542 fans per home game at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame 88, Longwood 39

Wagner (2-9) at Virginia (10-2), Marriott Cavalier Classic, 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers have won their own tournament seven straight times and will be heavy favorites in Wednesday's opener and against either Elon (5-5) or UMass (4-8) in Thursday's final/consolation game. In fact, unless Virginia is extremely rusty after the holiday break, we'd be surprised if either of their opponents clear 50 points. One key variable for the Cavaliers is the health of guard China Crosby, who suffered a knee injury in the first minute of Virginia's 59-53 victory over JMU last week. We haven't gotten an update on Crosby's condition, but Virginia's official game notes list her as questionable for the tournament. Virginia 71, Wagner 48

Old Dominion (3-9) at No. 8 Tennessee (7-3), 7 p.m.
Even some of ODU's most experienced and powerful teams have struggled in this storied series as the Lady Vols have won 15 straight and haven't lost to the Lady Monarchs in Knoxville since 1982. The long-term question is, with talk of easing up on the schedule for ODU, will this be the Lady Monarchs' last trip to Thompson-Boling Arena for a while? A year ago in Norfolk, Tennessee used fullcourt pressure to suffocate the Lady Monarchs and cruised to a 72-42 victory. We suspect ODU will see that tactic again. Fans in Virginia can watch the action online on ESPN3. Tennessee 84, Old Dominion 52

VCU (7-3) vs. Morgan State (2-7) in Miami Tournament, 5 p.m.
The Rams have won four straight and will be facing their third straight MEAC opponent (Coppin State and Norfolk State). The Lady Bears' record is due in part to the fact that, since opening the season on Nov. 15, they've played nothing but road games since. Still, we love the Rams' chances, and a victory today would almost certainly set them up for a shot at the 12th-ranked Hurricanes, who head into this tournament on a 30-game home winning streak. VCU 78, Morgan State 58

Cincinnati (7-5) at Virginia Tech (3-8) at Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Classic, 7 p.m.
Few teams probably appreciated a few days off more than these depth-starved Hokies. And this event typically brings out the best in the Hokies, who are 26-2 in the Classic the past 14 years and stunned Vanderbilt to take the 2010 title. Also, sophomore guard Monet Tellier has been a terrific tournament player, as she averaged 20.5 points and made the all-tournament team earlier this season at St. Mary's, and was the tournament MVP at the Hokie Classic last season. As for Cincinnati, it's been a strange season by the Bearcats, who started out 6-0, then dropped five straight before righting themselves last week against Longwood. Hokies coach Dennis Wolff and Cincinnati's Jamelle Elliott, both UConn grads, have no doubt crossed paths many times. Elliott was an assistant at UConn when Wolff's daughter, Nicole, played for the Huskies in the mid-2000s. Today's winner will face either High Point or UMBC in Thursday's title game. Virginia Tech 62, Cincinnati 59

Hampton (8-2) vs. Central Michigan (7-5) in Doubletree Classic (Tulane), 9 p.m.
Matchup of two hot teams as the Lady Pirates have won six of their last seven games when CMU comes in on a five-game winning streak that coincided with Florida Gulf Coast transfer LaJordan Duke becoming eligible. The Chippewas' three top scorers are all freshmen - Crystal Bradford (14.6 ppg), Jas'Mine Bracey (11.2) and Jessica Green (10.3). Hampton, by contrast, is very much a senior-led team with Choicetta McMillian (16.4 ppg, 36 3-pointers), Jericka Jenkins (12.9 ppg, 5.9 apg) and Melanie Warner (10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) fueling the attack. And, of course, every Lady Pirate pitches in on defense - that is, if they want playing time. The winner will face either College of Charleston (2-8) or host Tulane (9-2) in Thursday's title game. Hampton 72, Central Michigan 56

Fun in NYC with the Tribe

We love this pic from William and Mary's trip to NYC (which included beating Seton Hall!). We hope Taysha Pye, Emily Correal, Victoria Willems, Kaitlyn Mathieu and Jackie McKenna gave our regards to Broadway. The team is off until Friday when they play Elizabeth City State.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: The gift that keeps on giving

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

We saved the best for last. It's a gift that delivers 365 days of the year, even when the balls aren't bouncing. That's brought to you with enthusiasm and passion. And it doesn't cost you a dime.

We're talking about Ladyswish, the blog Vicki and I proudly serve up daily as a gift to women's basketball fans everywhere (but especially in this here Commonwealth). Thanks for hanging in there with us so far. And we promise to keep trying to make this the gift that keeps on giving for years to come.

Of course, this gift works even better if it comes wrapped in a new Ipad2.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Have a ball

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love game to me .....

It's Christmas Eve eve. Time to bring out the Hall of Fame gifts. Given that, we turn to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in where else, Knoxville, for some inspiration.

The Hall's online store is full of goodies from apparel to glassware to our favorite, basketballs of all shapes, sizes and colors. There's also the board game "Full Court Pressure" we mentioned earlier in the shopping guide (which, by the way, we're still trying to figure who was the Husky who averaged a double-double for her career? It's not Lobo, Charles, Moore or the cast of usual suspects).

But we digress, as we usually do. If you're prone to anxiety, the little stress ball above is just $2. As for basketball, for some reason we find ourselves prone to the pink one that's $13.50 above ($1 of the proceeds goes to Susan G. Komen Foundation). Looking to wear the Hall on your sleeve? Consider the tie die shirt that along comes in long sleeves.

Find your Christmas treasure at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hampton, Richmond, George Mason go into break on a high note

Thursday's results:

Hampton 71, Boston College 63
David Six and the Lady Pirates must feel pretty good headed into these holidays with a resounding win over an ACC foe on the road. Twenty one turnovers turned into 21 points for Hampton (8-2), which trailed 51-43 with 13:15 remaining. The Pirates rallied with a 9-0 run capped by a Choicetta McMillian layup, two of her 15 second-half points. The teams traded leads, and HU finished on an 11-4 run, sinking all eight of its free throws. McMillian finished with 22, Melanie Warner 16 and Keiara Avant, 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jericka Jenkins just missed the double-double, adding 13 points and 9 assists.

Richmond 69, Hartford 56
Like David Six, Michael Shafer must be feeling pretty gleeful given how well his young team has fared through 12 games. The Spiders are 10-2 and got a career high 18 points from athletic marvel Becca Wann, who picked up All-American soccer honors two weeks ago. (Wann also had a career-high 9 rebounds and 5 assists.). Gritty as always, Richmond clawed back from 10 down to lead by one at the break. Genevieve Okoro's 19 points and 10 rebounds led the Spiders with Rachael Bilney adding 14.

George Mason 58, George Washington 55
Jeri Porter lamented the 22 turnovers by the Patriots but said she was tickled with the win that sends George Mason into its holiday break at 7-3. Amber Easter (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Janaa Pickard (11 points, 11 rebounds) had the gaudy stats along with Taleia Moton's 20 points, but we understand why Porter mentioned turnovers postgame. We applaud Rahneeka Saunders for her 10 points, but 10 turnovers? George Washington (5-6) missed a 3 at the end for the tie, giving the Patriots bragging rights in this Beltway rivalry.

Cincinnati 70, Longwood 54
The road continues to be unforgiving for the Lancers (2-11), which couldn't match four Cincinnati starters in double figures led by Chanel Chisholm's 22 points. Nice effort by Crystal Smith, whose 14 points led a 29-point bench effort by the Lancers.

Davidson 80, Radford 68
The Highlanders (6-5) rallied within six in the second half, but couldn't overcome a 17-6 run by Davidson. Ayana Avery and Ashley Buckhannon combined for 41 of Radford's 68 points.

Holiday greetings from the Frese twins

Yep, we're a Virginia blog, but we couldn't resist sharing this pic from Maryland coach Brenda Frese, whose two sons are sitting on Santa's lap (the first year they weren't afraid, she says). Markus, left, apparently asked for blocks. Tyler wants a Lightning McQueen race car. We're betting Santa delivers on both.

Holiday Gift Guide: Trim the tree

On the 3rd day of Christmas, my true love gave to me .....

Whoever you're buying for probably has the house trimmed for the season, but we found some holiday decor that celebrates our favorite teams and the season.

We love the University of Virginia snowman with the basketball that's as low as $7, though we confess, the Tech snowman ($30 for a pack of six) looks warmer.

For something more formal, consider Radford's pewter ornament ($10.99).

Just about every school has its own collection for Christmas. Check online or at the school bookstore and decorate your tree in support of your team. Better yet, we like the idea of a tree with an ornament from all 13 of our schools.

Postcard from Liberty's Megan Frazee

Today's postcard is from former Liberty player Megan Frazee, who has spent the last 13 weeks playing for CCC Polkowice in Poland. Frazee is averaging 11.2 ppg, shooting 51 percent, and 3.9 rpg; CCC Polkowice is 15-7. Megan is one of two Americans on the team along with former Virginia sharpshooter Sharnee Zoll. We checked out the blog she references below, and it is awesome.

And we're especially excited as today Megan is flying home for Christmas!!

 My experience in Poland has been great so far :). I am in Polkowice, Poland which is a very small town. It has been great though, because my previous two years overseas I was playing in big cities, so it is nice to have peace and quiet.

The team I am playing for this year is CCC Polkowice. We also play in Euroleague, so it is keep us busy. Our typical schedule is a game on Wednesday and a game on Saturday. It has been a lot of FUN traveling to see different countries. We have gone to Russia, Hungary, Spain, and Turkey so far this season.

It is different being in a new culture with a different language, but I have had a blast. I would love to learn a new language sometime, but I am not sure if it will be Polish.

Sometimes it can be hard being away from family and friends, but what a unique opportunity I have been given to play a sport that I love :)

I keep a blog while I am over here:

I wish you a Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Understanding what it means to be a Lady Monarch

The 63-59 result that favored Maryland Eastern Shore over Old Dominion on Wednesday afternoon likely didn't faze the more than 2,000 Norfolk Public School children in attendance. Bet they had a blast in the Constant Center, watching Big Blue, singing "Ice Cream and Cake," and last of all, watching the game. Those kids are too young to realize the statement ODU made on the court. But the young women wearing Lady Monarch uniforms are old enough to understand it. The question is, do they?

ODU lost to a MEAC team for the first time in its history. Maryland Eastern Shore is no Hampton. Picked to finish eighth in the 13-team MEAC, they rank last in that conference in scoring offense and field-goal percentage.

"This win is far bigger than we could ever imagine," said coach Fred Batchelor.

And for ODU this is a loss hard to imagine. This one does not belong alongside Stanford or Georgia Tech or Seton Hall, for that matter. This one stands alone. There are no travel days to blame. There are no exams. This isn't about youth.  ODU was coming off a comfortable win over North Carolina A&T on Sunday. There is no reason for these Lady Monarchs to fall to Maryland Eastern Shore.

Karen Barefoot has contagious enthusiasm and an ability to find a positive in any negative. There is no silver lining here. The wisest person I know about women's basketball told me once that with this game,  the game before the players break for the holidays, you never know what you're going to get. Kids are anxious to go home. They're already tasting Mom's home cooking. It's the first real break the players have had since preseason. A few hours after the final whistle, the Lady Monarchs were airport bound or catching rides home. Know what? The Hawks were doing the same, only they were going into Christmas with a win to feel good about.

Moons ago the Lady Monarchs lost to James Madison on a February night in Harrisonburg. These were great Lady Monarchs, too -- Ticha, Clarisse and company. Wendy Larry saw the team was upset but frankly, not upset enough. She had a conversation with that team she would never need to repeat. It was about Lady Monarch pride. It was about what wearing a jersey that said "Old Dominion" on its front meant. It was about giving your all every day, every night. Those players went on to become part of ODU's 113-game CAA win streak.

Now times have changed. The CAA is worlds better thanks to the standard ODU set. But not everything has changed. When you wear that blue and silver uniform, it's still not about you. It's about a tradition that goes back to the '70s ; it's about Anne Donovan and Nancy Lieberman; it's about Ticha and Mery and Clar; it's about Lucienne and Tanty and Natalie. It's about Shareese Grant and a 35-point effort in the CAA championship.  It's about Megan and Shahida and TJ -- the last team to win an NCAA Tournament game.

Your load is heavy as a Lady Monarch because you're never playing for you. You're part of a tradition, a revered tradition that frankly is getting lost with losses to Loyola in front of 400 and certainly with a beating from a seven-loss Maryland Eastern Shore team.

When you're a Lady Monarch, you don't take heart in competing with a team picked last in the ACC, especially when that team is on your floor. You don't get blown out by a league opponent. And maybe you lose to Maryland, but you don't lose to Maryland Eastern Shore.

It comes back to accountability. Nobody is expecting a team full of freshman with an entirely new coaching staff to make a national impact. But on this day, playing in your gym, in front of a bunch of schoolkids cheering for you, against a team that had only recorded wins over American and Delaware State -- on this day, the Lady Monarchs are expected to win.

Why? Because you're Old Dominion. If you check out the box score from today's game, you won't find much remarkable. Nobody got hurt; the opponent didn't shoot the lights out; there wasn't an officiating issue.

But frankly, something remarkable did happen today. Let's hope the players with "Lady Monarchs" on their jerseys realize that.

William and Mary rallies past Seton Hall, VCU rolls over NSU

Wednesday's results:

William and Mary 61, Seton Hall 54: The Pirates have already taken down Florida Gulf Coast and Drexel this season, so the Tribe wouldn't have had much explaining to do had they failed to overcome a 9-point second-half deficit. Instead, the Tribe ripped off 17 straight points and carried through for arguably their most impressive victory of the season. Janine Aldridge, who took just 3 shots and was held scoreless in a 19-minute stint Monday against Long Island, went off on Seton Hall with 6 3-pointers and a game-high 24 points. Emily Correal and Jaclyn McKenna each added 14 points for the Tribe (6-4), which won on the road for the third time this season.

VCU 79, Norfolk State 59: We figured the Spartans would have problems with Courtney Hurt (22 points) and Andrea Barbour (22 points), because most teams do. But the Spartans also struggled mightily with VCU's defensive pressure, particularly in a first half that ended with the Rams ahead 46-19. The victory was the fourth straight for the Rams (7-3) and seventh in their last eight games. Whitney Long got loose for19 points for NSU (5-5).

Florida Gulf Coast 69, Virginia Tech 41: The Eagles attempted 61 field goals, 47 of which were 3-pointers. Seventeen of those threes fell. But that's pretty much business as usual for the nation's top 3-point-shooting team. Aerial Wilson scored 15 points to lead the Hokies (3-8).

Click here to read more about Maryland-Eastern Shore's 63-59 victory over Old Dominion.
Florida Gulf Coast

Holiday Gift Guide: Get to the game

On the 4th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me .....

Tix. What better gift than to treat your WBB friend or family member to an actual game? Some possibilities:

*Longwood at Notre Dame (Dec. 28): See Skylar Diggins and traipse around South Bend. Bring a heavy coat. We hear it's cold there.

*Richmond vs. James Madison, Lehigh Christmas Classic (Dec. 29): These games are in Bethlehem. Need we say more? (That's Pennsylvania, not the other Bethlehem.....)

*Virginia at Duke (Jan. 2): Love the Duke campus plus you get to see the one that got away from the Cavs, Virginia Beach's Elizabeth Williams, the top freshman in the ACC.

*Old Dominion at William and Mary (Jan. 26): Walk around Merchant Square and then take in this CAA matchup that should be a good one. The Tribe has given ODU fits in Williamsburg of late; this could be the year they pull off the upset.

*Delaware at James Madison (Jan. 29): Any time you have a chance to see Elena Delle Donne in Virginia, take it. Let the ESPN announcers fawn over Brittney Griner. We've got EDD in the CAA.
*NCAA Tournament first and second rounds (March 17 and 19 or 18 and 20): The tournament returns to the Constant Center in Norfolk (and there's a regional in Raleigh if you're so inclined). Tickets aren't on sale yet, but your WBB brethren surely wouldn't want to pass up the chance to see the tournament up close. Give an IOU; tix should be going on sale soon!

ODU, VCU, W&M get early starts Wednesday

 Wednesday's games:

Norfolk State (5-4) at VCU (6-3), noon
The Rams appear to be rounding into form behind CAA Player of the Week Courtney Hurt, who is averaging 27.7 points and 11.9 rebounds in her last 7 games. Extremely tough matchup for the Spartans. VCU 71, NSU 54

Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-7) at Old Dominion (3-8), 11:30 a.m.
You always worry about players' focus on these pre-holiday matinee games since everyone is prepared to scatter to the four winds at game's end. Fortunately for the Lady Monarchs, they'll have hundreds of local elementary school kids on hand to keep reminding them of the task at hand.  ODU 72, UMES 49

William and Mary (5-4) at Seton Hall (7-5),12:30 p.m.
This will be the fourth game against a CAA foe this season for Anne Donovan-led Seton Hall, as the Pirates have beaten ODU and Drexel and lost to Hofstra. Long Island was apparently able to chase William and Mary off the 3-point line on Monday (the Tribe shot 2 of 9 from long range in the 78-69 loss), and long-range shooting is an important weapon in the Tribe's arsenal. The Pirates are pretty good from deep, too, though - they nailed 11 3-pointers against Drexel on Dec. 12. Seton Hall 67, William and Mary 64

Virginia Tech (3-7) at Florida Gulf Coast (7-1), 7 p.m.
Tough assignment for the Hokies, as the 3-point shooting specialist Eagles virtually never lose at home.  Florida Gulf Coast 78, Virginia Tech 53

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Virginia rallies past JMU; Richmond holds off Liberty

 Tuesday's results:

Virginia 59, James Madison 53: Heck of a Commonwealth showdown. The feeling going in was the Cavaliers might comfortably avenge losses to the Dawn Evans-led Dukes the past two seasons. Obviously, the Dukes didn't share that feeling, and instead went out and became one of the few teams to successfully attack Virginia's usually-shutdown zone. JMU led by eight at halftime and built their advantage to 12 early in the second half. What happens next depends on which side you ask. Cavaliers coach Joanne Boyle credited defensive adjustments for slowing the Dukes down. JMU coach Kenny Brooks pointed to foul trouble to starters Lauren Whitehurst, Nikki Newman and Kirby Burkholder that made him resort to funky lineups and threw the Dukes out of rhythm. We're sure they're both right. This much is clear, though - with the game tied at 53 and less than three minutes remaining, the Cavaliers made plays and the Dukes didn't. Ataira Franklin's jumper with 2:28 to play gave Virginia the lead for good, and Telia McCall followed with a layup. The Dukes, meanwhile, had turnovers on three straight possessions.

Franklin finished with a career-high 22 points, and Chelsea Shine and Ariana Moorer each had 12. Jasmine Gill led JMU with 19 points and Tarik Hislop chipped in 14. But Burkholder, Whitehurst and Newman combined to finish with more fouls (13) than points (12). Still, our takeaway was that the Dukes are just a few tweaks away from landing a big road win against a Top 25-caliber team. Virginia, meanwhile, displayed resilience when faced with their 12-point second-half deficit. So while Virginia fans are the only ones that can celebrate, both fanbases should feel pretty good about where their teams are at this stage of the season.

The game began on a somber note, though, as star-crossed point guard China Crosby went down in the first minute with an apparent left knee injury. The junior returned to the Virginia bench in the second half on crutches and wearing a knee brace. No word yet on the extent of Crosby's injury. Given the knee issues she's already battled through in each of her first two seasons, we're obviously praying for the best possible news.

Richmond 66, Liberty 54: We sized this up as a poor matchup for the Lady Flames, and it look every bit that way for the first 25 minutes or so as the Spiders (9-2) raced out to a 48-27 lead. But Liberty freshman Catherine Kearney ignited a furious Liberty rally that got the Lady Flames to within six points. But Rachael Bilney buried a dagger 3-pointer - after a Becca Wann offensive rebound - with 2:49 remaining to blunt Liberty's momentum and send the Spiders to their third straight victory. Abby Oliver led all scorers with 23 points for Richmond and Wann, the soccer All-American, turned in one of her best basketball performances with a career-high 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in 24 minutes off the bench. Devon Brown scored 17 points and Avery Warley contributed 16 points and 9 rebounds for Liberty (5-6).

Southeast Missouri St. 56, Longwood 52: The Lancers (2-10) were unable to return from the Wright State Invitational with a victory, but they were increasingly more competitive in each of the three games and came within a well-timed basket or two of nabbing this one. Brittanni Billups posted her second straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Erin Neal had 12 points for Longwood.

Silent majority rankings (through Dec. 19)

Before we get to our rankings, we noticed that in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll of coaches, UConn received one first-place vote. Considering the events that took place Sunday night in Waco, that's an interesting call to say the least. Not sure what more Baylor has to do, especially since the Lady Bears' perfect record also includes a victory over No. 3 Notre Dame. I know the coaches usually don't go on the record with their ballots, but I'd love to hear the explanation for this one.

Now, let's talk Silent Majority:

1. Delaware (9-0)
Last week: 1
Star turn: Exam-break rust was clearly evident on Elena Delle Donne, as she actually missed a free throw in Monday's 21-point win at Providence. Her other numbers (29 points on 9 of 13 shooting, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in 29 minutes) were vintage EDD. But that missed free throw plummeted her season's FT percentage to 92.4 percent (61 of 66). Better get in the gym, girl!
Dribbles and bits: The Blue Hens moved up to No. 19 in the latest AP poll...Monday's 68-47 victory over the Friars was Delaware's first game since Dec. 11, and the Blue Hens will be off another nine days before playing in Maryland's Terrapin Classic on Dec. 28-29...With Delle Donne and forward Danielle Parker leading the way, the Blue Hens are at plus-11.4 in rebounding margin, the ninth-best figure in Division I.
Next up: Dec. 28 vs. East Carolina in Maryland's Terrapin Classic. A victory would almost certainly set up a Dec. 29 showdown with the undefeated Terrapins.

2. Green Bay (8-0)
Last week: 2
Star turn: The team was off last week, so here's a belated shoutout to Lydia Bauer and Sarah Eichler for raining a combined 9 3-pointers on Toledo in a 72-65 victory Green Bay's last time out.
Next up: Green Bay will put its 21-game homecourt winning streak on the line Tuesday against Ball State. Green Bay has also won 27 straight regular season games..Adrian Ritchie is making 96.2 percent of her free throws (25 of 26)...Senior Julie Wojta has scored at least 21 points in five of the eight games...The Phoenix are at No. 18 in the latest AP Top 25 poll and are up to No. 14 in ESPN/USA Today's poll.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Ball State

3. St. Bonaventure (10-1)
Last week: 3
Star turn: Marist killer Megan Bowker was at it again Sunday, as she knocked down 5 3-pointers and scored a game-high 19 points as the Bonnies outfoxed the Red Foxes 67-56
Dribbles and bits: Megan Van Tatenhove sat out Friday's game against Niagara with a head injury but was productive off the bench (10 points, 5 rebounds in 18 minutes) against Marist...Click here to find out how you can help the family of Bonnies freshman Tatiana Wilson, which lost its home and everything in it to a fire last week...Just wondering, where's the AP or ESPN/USA Today poll love for these guys?
Next up: The Bonnies will try to remain undefeated on the road (5-0) Thursday at Colgate, and a showdown with Villanova looms Dec. 29 in the first round of Monmouth's Hawks Holiday Classic.

4. Gonzaga (9-2)
Last week: 5
Star turn: A few hours after being named West Coast Conference Player of the Week, Oregon State transfer Haiden Palmer poured a game-high 22 points on No. 12 Georgia and splashed the game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second remaining. Other than that, it was just your typical Monday..
Dribbles and bits: Gonzaga snuck into the latest ESPN/USA Today poll at No. 24...It's a testament to Gonzaga's depth that the Bulldogs engineered their 71-68 victory over Georgia in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic with starters Kayla Standish (8 points) and Kelly Bowen (4) producing less than half their scoring averages...Gonzaga never led until Palmer drilled her game-winner, and the Bulldogs trailed by 15 with less than seven minutes remaining.
Next up: Wednesday vs. Dayton in Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas.

5. Florida Gulf Coast (7-1)
Last week: 4
Star turn: Sarah Hansen had a season-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Monday's 77-53 victory over USC Upstate.
Dribbles and bits: Monday's 77-53 victory over USC Upstate was the 300th of Eagles coach Karl Smesko's 13-year career (300-74, 239-47 at FGCU)...Oregon State transfer point guard Brittany Kennedy, a former teammate of Gonzaga's Haiden Palmer, started in her Eagles debut against Upstate and had 6 points and 6 assists in 26 minutes...Not only do the Eagles continue to lead the nation in 3-pointers, they are the only Division I school to average more 3-pointers (13.0) than turnovers (12.0).
Next up: Wednesday vs. Virginia Tech

6. Hartford (8-3)
Last week: 6
Star turn: Major props to Hawks coach Jennifer Rizzotti for getting her alma mater (UConn) to agree to come to Hartford for a game next season...
Dribbles and bits: The Hawks have won three straight since dropping back-to-back games at Marist and St. John's. The last two of those wins came despite the absence of scoring and rebounding leader Ruthanne Doherty, who has been sidelined with a concussion. Doherty has been cleared to return Thursday, and the timing is perfect since the Hawks will be playing at Richmond, which is Doherty's hometown. The plan is for the team to have dinner at Doherty's home on Wednesday.
Next up: Wednesday at Richmond

7. Richmond (8-2)
Last week: not ranked
Star turn: Freshman Keri Soppe secured Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors after her 12-point, 7-assist effort in the Spiders' 14-point win at N.C. State.
Dribbles and bits: We're based in Virginia and, so to avoid charges of homerism, we tend to grade teams in this Commonwealth on a tougher curve. But after last week's 72-58 road beatdown of N.C. State - the same N.C. State that took out Vanderbilt a few days later - there's no denying that these Spiders are legit...Sophomore guard Becca Wann was the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American in soccer and is one of the rare Division I athletes to play both sports (Boston College's Marissa Mello and Longwood's Kacie Oliver are two others)...These guys sure can shoot: The Spiders continue to lead Division I in free-throw percentage (82.6) and are 7th in 3-point percentage (39.7).
Next up: Tuesday vs. Liberty; Thursday vs. Hartford

8. Hofstra (7-2)
Last week: 8
Star turn: Junior forward and U.S. Pan-Am Games team member Shante Evans recorded her 35th career double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds) in Sunday's 66-52 win over St. Peter's...It's a credit to the quality of Evans' teammates that the junior's numbers (15.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) are actually down from a year ago, yet the team is having more success.
Dribbles and bits: The Pride has won seven of its last eight games, with the loss a two-point decision at Hartford...Hofstra ranks 13th in Division I in scoring offense at 78.9 points per game...
Next up: The Pride host the New York Life Holiday Invitational Wednesday and Thursday. They'll open with Central Connecticut State and will then face either Auburn or Marist.

9. Princeton (8-4)
Last week: 7
Star turn: Niveen Rasheed had 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Monday's 77-61 win at Santa Clara.
Dribbles and bits: There aren't too many players that can average 19.5 points and 12 rebounds in consecutive games against ranked teams, but those were Rasheed's numbers in Princeton losses at DePaul and Stanford. Not surprisingly, Rasheed was named Ivy League Player of the Week; it's the 14th time she's won the award in the 29 week's she's been eligible over her career...The Tigers took their west coast trip as a nod to Rasheed and Tigers junior Lauren Polansky, both of whom grew up within 60 miles of Stanford/Santa Clara.
Next up: Dec. 29 at Hofstra

10. Fresno State (9-3)
Last week: 10
Star turn: Ex-Washington State star Ki-Ki Moore continued to thrive with her new program, averaging a team-best 17.5 ppg.
Dribbles and bits: Saturday's 61-52 victory over Pacific was the Bulldogs' fifth straight and eighth in their last nine games. The lone loss was at No. 4 Stanford...The Bulldogs rank third in Division I in 3-pointer per game (9.5)...Junior Rosie Moult leads the WAC in 3-pointers (34) and steals (31).
Next up: Wednesday at UC Riverside

11. BYU (10-2)
Last week: 12
Star turn: Senior guard Haley Steed dished out 8 assists for the second straight game in Saturday's victory over Utah State. Remarkably, the 5-4 Steed also grabbed 10 rebounds. Actually, it's not really that remarkable, as the diminutive Steed is this team's leading rebounder (6.4 rpg).
Dribbles and bits: BYU made it nine straight victories by defeating Utah State Saturday...Love teams that share the ball, and with Steed leading the way, few teams do it better than these Cougars (19.3 assists per game). A lot of teams talk about not caring who scores the points, but the Cougars didn't even mention who led the team in scoring against Utah State in the game story on their official website. Those details are relegated to the bottom of the page, under "Postgame notes."...At least someone's paying attention to these guys: the Cougars received two votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
Next up: Thursday vs. Nevada

12. Duquesne (9-1)
Last week: 13
Star turn: Orsi Szecsi earned Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors after lighting up Akron and leading a furious comeback in a 61-55 win over West Virginia.
Dribbles and bits: The Dukes trailed West Virginia by 17 with 14:33 to play before Szecsi scored the first five points of a 16-0 run. The teams then swapped the lead a few times before a Szecsi 3-pointer with 1:03 left put Duquesne ahead for good...The victory was Duquesne's first over the Mountaineers in 11 meetings dating back to 1995.
Next up: Tuesday vs. Maine at Florida's Gator Holiday Classic. The Dukes will face either Charleston Southern or Florida on Wednesday.

13. UTEP (10-0)
Last week: 15
Star turn: Do-it-all sophomore point guard Kelli Willingham had nine assists and just one turnover last Tuesday against Northern Colorado, then recorded a team-high 18 points three nights later at Loyola Marymount.
Dribbles and bits: The Miners are one of nine unbeaten teams in Division I (as of Tuesday)...The 10-0 start is tied for the second-best in program history; UTEP won 23 straight in 2007-08...Opponents are shooting just 31.2 percent against UTEP this season and, led by Gloria Brown and Kristine Vitola, the Miners rank 13th nationally in blocked shots (6.0 bpg).
Next up: Wednesday vs. UC Santa Barbara

14. Long Island (10-2)
Last week: not ranked
Star turn: Junior Krystal Wells gave William and Mary some of its own medicine Monday, as her career-high 24 points came largely on the strength of 6 3-pointers. The Tribe began play ranked 10th in Division I in 3-point percentage.
Dribbles and bits: That 44-43 loss to Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 3 left us scratching our heads. But that's the Blackbirds' only stumble since a Nov. 13 loss at Hartford, and the team's resume includes solid wins over Drexel and Charlotte...Reigning Northeast Conference Player of the Week Ashley Palmer dropped a career-high 31 points on Cal Poly - and also pulled down 10 rebounds - in a 69-61 victory...The Blackbirds are riding a five-game winning streak and are 7-0 at home this season.
Next up: Dec. 29 at Nevada's Peppermill Holiday Classic. Long Island will open against the host school and will face either Mississippi State or Oklahoma State the following day.

15. Missouri State (6-3)
Last week: not ranked
Star turn: Senior Casey Garrison has scored at least 26 points in three of her last four games.
Dribbles and bits: No shame in any of the losses (to Louisville and Oklahoma State and by two points at Kansas State)...Garrison is averaging 20.1 points on 53.1 percent shooting...The Lady Bears flexed their muscles Sunday at Morgan State's expense, rolling to a 104-74 victory. It was the first 100-point game for Missouri State since 2003.
Next up: Tuesday at Arkansas State

On the verge: Hampton, Towson, Marist, Temple, James Madison, Memphis, Tulane, Northern Iowa, UAB, North Dakota, Howard.

RANDOMNESS with ODU's Ashley Betz-White

Old Dominion's Ashley Betz-White took a breather to share some time with LadySwish for the latest edition of RANDOMNESS. We say a breather, because if you've watched the Lady Monarchs this year, you'll see she rarely comes off the floor despite just being a freshman. The point guard averages 33 minutes and is ODU's second leading scorer, averaging 9.8 ppg. Her 29 assists leads the team and despite being listed at 5-3 (we think she's smaller), she pulls down 3.4 rpg.

Your nickname? Just Ash. Some people in high school called me ABW.

Favorite birthday present (she turned 19 on Dec. 6)?: I got some pink DRE beats, the studio headphones. You put them on and it blocks out everything. You can't hear anything except your music.

So when you're listening to that music, what kind is it? I'm listening to Biggie (Smalls) and "Juicy." That's my song before the game.

You never come off the floor! What's that like? It's hard. I try to bring the same intensity to practice as the game, so it's every day. It's mental. I am in the best shape of my life.

A true freshman starting at Stanford. What's that like? It's overwhelming at first, but you've got to get over it. You step in there and do what you have to do.

You grew up in Pennsylvania. Are you a Steelers fan? Eagles.

What's wrong with them this year? Teamwork. You've got to work together.

Your favorite athlete to watch? I like watching Chris Paul. I like Candace Parker.

Did anyone ever say you were too small? Yeah. When I was being recruited, a lot of people said I was, but I never let that bother me.

Did you ever try to grow when you were a kid? Oh, yeah! Stretching and drinking milk.

You've already been to the Virgin Islands, California, Georgia. Do you like to fly? Oh, no. That turbulence gets to me. I do not like flying. I can't sleep right.

Did you buy any fun souvenirs in the Virgin Islands? Actually my teammates did, but I decided to go shopping at Bebe and bought a dress that I could have gotten here. But there was no tax.

Pet peeve? My sister. We share a bathroom and she would always get out of the shower soaking wet so the carpet would be soaking wet when I go in there.

What would surprise folks about you? When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut.

Now? I want to work for ESPN and be a broadcaster.

Your favorite food? Mac and cheese. My grandma makes the best.

If you could have that mac and cheese with two dinner guests, who would they be? Michael Jordan and Reggie Bush.

Like movies? I like scary movies. A few weeks ago we went to see "Twilight." I never read any of the books, but I saw the movies and liked them.

Do you watch "The Kardashians?" Yep. I didn't think it was going to last.

Biggest adjustment to college? Time management. Balancing classes. Eating right. You're on your own so you've can't rely on anyone else.

What were you thinking when you made your fifth shot in a row against Virginia Tech (her first-ever collegiate game)? I was in a zone.

What player has made an impression on you? I love playing with Tia (Lewis). She's always talking to me. If I make a mistake, she's always bringing me up. She's a good teammate.

Who's the funniest Lady Monarch? Queen. She's always joking. She and Myeisha (Hall) are always dancing.

Who's the most fashion conscious on the team? Me. I like shopping at Bebe, Forever 21, Charlotte Russo, H&M. I love everything. Shoes. Heels. And I always buy dresses.

Why Old Dominion? The tradition. Coming here the past couple year, it has dwindled. I wanted to come in here with the other freshmen and make a difference.

Holiday Gift Guide: Think Pink

On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love game to me .....

Something pink. Admittedly, it's my favorite color, though purple is in the running, too. But come February when all the teams are doing their pinkout in honor of breast cancer, you'll fit right in.
Some ideas: You can never go wrong with wearing something pink. It's a bright, vibrant color that looks good on just about anyone. The sweater to the left is from

What about a pink food processor? That will certainly sparkle up your kitchen full of drab white appliances. That's from, which promises that it doesn't exist if they don't have it. They also have pink camcorders, doghouses, even pink household tools.

In addition to being pretty, all this pink represents the importance of giving to breast cancer, so consider a donation to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. It's a great time of year to give and honor the legacy of one of the game's most revered coaches.

And if you still haven't found the right pink, how about a pink basketball? LadySwish particularly likes that idea.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breyana Mason on committing to UVA: "They were just shocked..."

Nice read in The Washington Post about Forest Park guard Breyana Mason committing to Virginia on Sunday. LadySwish happened to be awake to see ESPN's Tweet about her decision and we posted at 3:59 am!

Mason was in Charlottesville to see the Cavaliers crush Radford and made her verbal afterward, according to She notes in the story the surprise of the coaches, saying, "I don't think they saw it coming."

Hampton, W&M, Longwood fall on the road

Virginia teams went 0-3, making it a dismal Monday before Christmas:

UAB 43, Hampton 38
Score kind of says it all, don't you think? Two of the best defenses got together, and on this night, UAB's was better, limiting the Pirates to 24 percent shooting. The Pirates (7-2) weren't too shabby, either, holding UAB to 32 percent shooting and a startling 22 turnovers. That's impressive given UAB is ranked fourth in the NCAA, committing just 12.8 turnovers per game prior to this one. In winning their sixth in a row, the Blazers (7-2) snapped Hampton's five-game win streak.

Long Island 78, William and Mary 69
Taysha Pye came off the bench to score 29 and Emily Correal poured in 17, but where was the rest of the Tribe? Four players did not score including two starters and after Correal, the next best effort was five points by Janine Aldridge. W&M (5-4) also got burned by eight 3s from Long Island, including six from leading scorer Krystal Wells (24 points). The Blackbirds (10-3) improved to 6-0 at home, their best start since joining the Northeast Conference in 1988-89.

Central Michigan 70, Longwood 59
The Lancers couldn't get it done despite a splendid effort by Brittanni Billups, whose 18 rebounds were three more than the rest of her team. Still, Longwood got outrebounded by 13 and didn't have enough offensive firepower to overcome Central Michigan in a game played before just 108. (By the way our prediction was 80-49)

Postcard from NYC from William and Mary

One thing we love about Debbie Taylor is the importance she puts on giving her team an education about life beyond the court. For the last several days, W&M has visited New York City, and frankly it sounds like they're having a blast. As for that basketball business, they take on Long Island Monday at 7 p.m. and Seton Hall in nearby New Jersey on Wednesday.

Emily Correal offered us a glimpse of some of the things the team was doing beyond practice and shootaround ......

We went to dinner at Carmine's and went to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. We are going to the New York Stock Exchange. We also have a picture in front of the big Christmas tree.

And shopping. Lots of shopping.

We'll post the pic as soon as we see it. Have fun, guys!

Holiday Gift Guide: A good read

On the 6th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ....

Wanna give a good read?

Just released by the University of Arizona Press, "Sing" is a multilingual collection of Indigenous American poetry, joining voices old and new in songs of witness and reclamation.

"Sing" gathers more than 80 poets from across the Americas, covering territory that stretches from Alaska to Chile. This not-to-be-missed celebration features former Lady Monarch Natalie Diaz.

"Sing" is the brainchild of editor Allison Hedge Coke, who spent eight years tracking down poets and making connections. If you haven't read anything by the former ODU guard, who made a dynamic impression in the 1997 Final Four, you've missed. Diaz, who received her MFA at ODU, is thoughtful and articulate and among the most gifted young writers of our time.

As an added stocking stuffer, consider reserving her paperback "When My Brother was an Aztec," due out this spring.

Promise you won't be disappointed by anything Diaz authors.

Forest Park's Breyana Mason picks Virginia

Having already secured a potent 2012 recruiting haul, Virginia received some great news regarding its 2013 class Sunday when Forest Park junior point guard Breyana Mason gave the Cavaliers a verbal commitment. Mason is ranked No. 44 in ESPN's Super 60 rankings of 2013 prospects. A long-time member of the Fairfax Stars, Mason helped her AAU team win the 2011 Nike Summer Showcase in Chicago last summer and reach the title game of the Nike Nationals Invitational Tournament.

On Saturday, Mason scored a tournament-record 39 points to lead Forest Park over St. Anthony's (N.Y.) 72-63 in the Tina Thompson She Got Game Classic.

"Breyana is an unselfish point guard, incredible teammate and an absolute pleasure to coach," Forest Park coach Rebecca Tillett told ESPN. "She is a student of the game, and maintains over a 4.0 GPA. UVa's rigorous academics will be a great match. Coach (Joanne) Boyle and her staff's recruitment of her was top-notch from start to finish. Breyana is a competitor who has a solid frame and the ability to defend and score with the great guards in the ACC."

The Cavaliers will have no shortage of lead guards in the future, as they inked two - Faith Randolph and Jaryn Garner - in their 2012 class. Shooting guard Raeshaun Gaffney is also headed to Virginia to round out a recruiting class ESPN pegged as the 25th-best in the country.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Virginia romps; JMU, ODU, VCU also winners

Sunday's results:

James Madison 71, Central Connecticut 64
Nikki Newman only played 24 minutes, but that was enough time to secure her first double-double (a career-tying 10 points and 10 rebounds) to lead the Dukes (7-1) to their 15th straight home victory. "For us to be effective this year, she just has to bring it," said Dukes coach Kenny Brooks, and we couldn't agree more. Lauren Whitehurst's 17 made it a good day for JMU in the low post, but they weren't too shabby on the perimeter, either with 16 apiece from Kirby Burkholder and Tarik Hislop. As much as we like Brooks, we weren't that thrilled that he delighted in the Redskins beating the Giants only, we assume, because of what it meant for the Cowboys. "Sweet," he said upon hearing the score. "This is the first time in my life I've ever rooted for the Redskins." ...Brooks did give his team credit for winning what he called "the hardest game of the year. Their brain are fried," he said, noting that JMU is coming off exams. As for the 'Skins, we hope they beat the Giants and Dallas every time.

VCU 74, Coppin State 66
You'd like to see the Rams cruise in a game like this, especially given the 52-31 advantage they had on the boards. VCU (6-3) held an 18-point advantage with 5:35 to go, but the Eagles pulled within 72-64 with 1:21 left.  But Courtney Hurt, who shot 60-percent from the field, continued to inflict pain, restoring VCU's lead to 10 on the ensuing possession. Hurt finished with 30 and Andrea Barbour, off the bench, scored 12 with 11 rebounds. Jennifer Lane still MIA for the Rams (6-3).

Old Dominion 71, North Carolina A&T 58
We thought the Lady Monarchs (3-8) might have a few more problems with these Aggies, and indeed a 23-point lead did wither down to 10 late in the second half. But for most of the afternoon, ODU pressed and turned over NC A&T, forcing the Aggies to put up the kind of rushed shots that resulted in a 31 percent effort from the floor. ODU, meanwhile, got off to a fast start behind Tia Lewis (24 points, 13 rebounds) and Ashley Betz-White (11 points, 5 assists). We also single out the line from Jackie Cook (8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks). ODU played with the type of relentless on defense that was reminiscent of the teams of old. The question remains, can they do it in a CAA that is ranked seventh in the RPI?

Virginia 92, Radford 43
Somebody turned on the jets and the Cavalier offense poured out with 55 bench points, including Lexie Gerson's 19, Jazmin Pitts' 16 on 8-of-8 shooting and Telia McCall's 13. Noted Gerson, who didn't seem terribly stressed post finals, "It's amazing. We had 10 days to prepare. I personally had five days where I didn't have finals. I was getting in the gym a lot and having fun. It was really awesome to get out there again." The victory improved Virginia's record to 9-2, the program's best start since beginning the 2008-09 season. Juicy matchup awaits the Cavs on Tuesday night when JMU comes to town.

Central Florida 41, Virginia Tech 32
No, this isn't a halftime score; that was 17-13 in favor of the Knights (5-5). Neither team was exactly Aaron Rogers on offense as combined they shot 47 percent. The Hokies led 4-2 --- midway through the half. The Knights were up 36-21 with 5:36 on the clock. Tech went on a late run, cutting the Knights’ lead down to eight (38-30) with just under a minute to go, but UCF’s Andrea Hines went 3-of-4 from the free throw line in the final minute to help secure the ugly win, which coaches assure us is better than a pretty loss. It was a particularly tough game for Monet Tellier (no points, no assists, 3 turnovers). We doubt either team will be anxious to view this film any time soon.

Wright State 77, Longwood 44
Hard to find a highlight in here for the Lancers, who shot 23. percent (13-55) from the floor, including 18.2 percent (2-11) from behind the arc. Longwood didn't have a field goal in the final 9:48 of the first half and were outscored 20-3.