Monday, January 31, 2011

Hampton, Liberty prevail, NSU comes up short on the road again

You catch that Duke/UConn action on Monday night? Guess there won't be any more debate about the Blue Devils being No. 1. But we digress.....

Monday's games:

Coppin State 64, Norfolk State 55: The Spartans (8-10, 1-7 MEAC) missed a prime opportunity to snag that elusive MEAC road win against a shorthanded opponent. On Saturday, a fight between players lasting several minutes broke out shortly after North Carolina A&T's 75-74 victory over Coppin State. From the Baltimore Sun:

Moments after players from both teams had performed the post-game handshake, Coppin's 6-foot-3 Jeanine Manley wound up in the middle of several A&T players when the first punches were thrown. Fights spread across the court before peace was achieved. There were several drops of blood leading from the court to the Coppin locker room, where first head coach Derek Brown and then Coppin athletics director Derrick Ramsey spoke to the players. "The thing that I want to express more than anything is that we're bigger than this," Ramsey said outside the women's locker room. "This is not what we teach over here … this is not what Coppin is about. This is an embarrassing moment for our institution, for my athletic program. This will not be tolerated. I have expressed that with my women."

We don't have an official word on suspensions, but the Lady Eagles played Monday without three of their top five scorers. That the Spartans were unable to capitalize was a direct result of their inability to handle the ball (29 turnovers) and the same failure to make plays down the stretch that cost them in Saturday's 4-point loss at Morgan State. After Genor Dalton's layup tied things at 51 with 5:53 to play, the Spartans had turnovers on their next four possessions and didn't get another field goal until Rae Corbo's layup with just 15 seconds left.

Hampton 47, Maryland-Eastern Shore 29: It wasn't exactly entertaining television (ESPNU aired the game), but for the second straight game the Lady Pirates held a MEAC opponent to 29 points. In fact, UMES finished with more turnovers (30) than points. The Lady Pirates held a MEAC opponent to 29 points for the second straight game, as the followed up their Quanneisha Perry had 12 points and 13 rebounds and Jericka Jenkins chipped in 11 points and 8 assists for the Lady Pirates, who have now held four of their last seven opponents to 37 points or less.

Liberty 68, Gardner-Webb 55: Jelena Antic scored 16 of her career-high 22 points after halftime as the Lady Flames (13-8, 7-1 Big South) moved into a first-place tie with Radford in the Big South. Liberty shot over 50 percent from the field for the second straight game (52.3) and made just enough 20 of their 36 free throw attempts to win their fourth straight and seventh in a row away from home. Devon Brown added 14 points and Avery Warley notched her 11th double-double of the season (12 points, 13 rebounds) for the Lady Flames, who will play five of their final eight games, including a Feb. 12 rematch with Gardner-Webb, at home. Of course, the money game is shaping up to be their Feb. 19 trip to Radford.

The (Hampton) revolution will be televised

Monday's games

Maryland-Eastern Shore (7-13, 4-3 MEAC) at Hampton (14-6, 7-1 MEAC), 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
How strong has Hampton's defense been of late? Saturday's 52-29 rout of Delaware State marked the third time in their last six MEAC games the Lady Pirates have held an opponent to 37 points or less. And UMES is coming off a 35-33 loss at Howard. Hampton has won six straight in this series, including a 65-41 win in last season's MEAC Tournament. Hampton 55, UMES 45

Norfolk State (8-9, 1-6 MEAC) at Coppin State (6-12, 3-4 MEAC), 5:30 p.m.
The Lady Eagles have played better than their record - Saturday's 75-74 loss is a good example - and are 3-1 in their last 4 home games. Despite not winning a conference road game since 2007, the Spartans showed they can played competitively away from Echols Arena in Saturday's 64-60 loss at Morgan State. A bit more poise and execution in the final minutes should put them over the top. Norfolk State 58, Coppin State 56

Liberty (12-8, 6-1 Big South) at Gardner-Webb (13-7, 5-2), 7 p.m.
This rematch of the last two Big South title games figured to again be the league's showcase matchup. But as we come to the end of the first half of conference play, both teams are chasing that juggernaut from Radford. Liberty can tie the Highlanders for first place with a victory tonight, but Radford won the head-to-head meeting. The Lady Flames are coming off a dominating 70-33 win at Winthrop; Gardner-Webb inexplicably blew a 13-point lead at home Saturday and fell by to UNC Asheville. Not sure if the Runnin' Bulldogs started taking a peek at tonight's game a bit early, but we're suspect they'll be at their best tonight. They'd better be if they want to stay in the title chase. Also, don't expect a lot of points from either team. Gardner-Webb is holding Big South opponents to a league-low 47.3 points per game; Liberty has been nearly as stingy, surrendering just 48.4 ppg. Former Old Dominion forward Sierra Little is averaging 9.3 ppg and a team-best 7.3 rpg for Gardner-Webb. Liberty 54, Gardner-Webb 52

Sunday, January 30, 2011

ODU, JMU, UNCW remain deadlocked atop CAA

Call it "Separation Sunday" in the CAA, as a clear line of distinction among the contenders and the also-rans has been established as we reach the midway point in the conference race. Old Dominion, James Madison and UNC Wilmington all remained tied for the lead with 8-1 marks, and VCU stayed in hot pursuit with a 7-2 mark. The next-best conference record is 4-5, a mark shared by Drexel, Delaware, Hofstra and surging George Mason. The top four finishers earn byes in the CAA Tournament. One of those teams would have to make up three games on VCU over the final nine to get into that mix.

The wildcard out of that group is Delaware, which welcomed back Elena Delle Donne for the first time since Dec. 19 in Sunday's 81-68 loss at Hofstra. Delle Donne went for 28 points against the Pride and figures to make Delaware a considerably more dangerous team over the second half of conference play.

Sunday's games

Old Dominion 64, Georgia State 41:
Prior to tipoff, Old Dominion honored former All-American and Olympian Medina Dixon by making her the program's seventh player to have her jersey retired. The current players then paid their respects by serving up a good ol' fashioned CAA beatdown and holding the Panthers' heads underwater with a superior defensive show. Watching the Lady Monarchs run offense can sometimes be a challenging experience. But man, can they guard people. And this isn't something they picked up a few games ago. We saw this commitment to defense in their season opener against Georgia Tech, and it was on full display again Sunday. It's funny, because we only saw it over the last four minutes when these teams met a couple of weeks ago, as ODU rallied from 5 points down to pull out a 66-62 victory. Afterward, ODU coach Wendy Larry remarked that if her team had played the entire game the way it played those final four minutes, it probably would have been a different story. Sunday was that different story. Chan Harris is the Panthers' talented go-to post player. On Sunday, she attempted just 6 shots as the Lady Monarchs continually blew up the Panthers' halfcourt offense before Harris could get her touches. When the teams met on Jan. 13 in Atlanta (a 66-62 ODU victory), ODU got burned by freshman Kendra Long (21 points 5-of-8 3-pointers). This time, Long got off just one shot in the first half (she missed) and finished with 8 points and 5 turnovers. ODU was ahead just 13-12 before limiting the Panthers to just one field goal and four points over the final 8:36 of the half. Georgia State finished the first half with almost as many turnovers (15) as points (16). Jasmine Parker led the way with a career high-tying 7 steals along with 13 points for the Lady Monarchs (14-6, 8-1 CAA), who won for the 8th time in 9 games to keep pace with UNC Wilmington and James Madison atop the CAA standings. In addition to honoring Dixon, ODU also feted several of its past stars during halftime. Among those in attendance: Adrienne Goodson, Jessica Canady, Jazzmin Walters, Stacy Himes, Tiffany Green and Shonda DeBerry.

James Madison 56, Towson 45: Talk about a dynamic duo. Dawn Evans (28 points) and Lauren Jimenez (16) scored all but 12 of the Dukes' points and all 24 for JMU over the final 7:24. And the Dukes needed their stars to go off late as the Tigers pulled to within 2 points at 44-42 with 3:19 remaining. Jimenez responded by scoring six straight points in a 58-second span to help the Dukes break free. The Dukes shot 53 percent for the game and 64.7 percent in the second half, but 22 turnovers prevented them from putting up a bigger scoring number. Evans' 28 points are notable because she accumulated them without benefit of a 3-pointer (0-for-4). Not sure if that's the most points she's scored without making a 3, but we wouldn't be surprised if it was. The win was JMU's sixth straight since their humbling 71-55 loss at ODU.

UNC Wilmington 82, William and Mary 59: Could this be the CAA's best team? The Seahawks haven't just won 7 straight. They've won virtually all of them going away. Set aside a four-point win at Hofstra and their winning margins during the streak are 14, 16, 18, 17, 23 and Sunday, 23 points again. But if you listen to UNCW coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, she's not giddy about any of it. Instead, she talks matter-of-factly about how she's pleased with some aspects but that the Seahawks still have a lot of work to do. Essentially, she sounds like a coach who believes the CAA - and perhaps beyond - can be UNCW's for the taking. More importantly, she seems to have her players believing it, too. Furthermore, their remaining schedule is less daunting, at least on paper, than the other contenders. In short, this team is serious, folks. Just ask William and Mary.

VCU 69, Drexel 65: It was quite a show by the "Big Three", and we're not talking about Lebron, Bosh and D-Wade. Check out these numbers: Courtney Hurt - 23 points, 20 rebounds. Andrea Barbour - 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting. Sonia Johnson - 17 points. That's 61 of 69 points for a VCU team that shot 56.6 percent from the field. As they almost always do, the Dragons kept things close. But it's tough enough to beat the Rams when one or two of their stars are feeling it. When all three are going off, look out.

George Mason 61, Northeastern 55: Remember when the Patriots couldn't win on the road? You should, because that was a fair assessment as recently as Wednesday. Well, on Sunday Mason bagged its second road win in four days - this from a team that took a 1-7 road record into Thursday's contest at Delaware and went just 1-12 on the road last season.  Taleia Moton's jumper with 59 seconds left broke a 55-55 tie, and Brittany Eley sealed it by going 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final 24 seconds. Moton finished with 17 points, Amber Easter added 13 and Angelee LaTouche grabbed 15 rebounds for the Patriots (10-10, 4-5 CAA), who matched their overall win total for all of 2009-10 (when they finished 10-20) with 9 regular-season games plus the CAA Tournament remaining.

Clemson 84, Virginia 74: Disappointing result for the Cavaliers (12-11, 1-6 ACC), who were unable to contain the Tigers anywhere on the floor. Clemson shot 51.9 percent from the field, 55.6 percent from 3 and made 30 trips to the free-throw line. Ataira Franklin went 4-of-4 from 3-point range and finished with 19 points. But this Virginia team isn't equipped to get into a shootout with any ACC team.

North Carolina 76, Virginia Tech 51: The Hokies (9-12, 0-7 ACC) were competitive throughout most of the first half, but a 9-1 North Carolina run to open the second half sent yet another game spiraling out of Tech's control. The Hokies' 25-percent second-half shooting didn't help, either. Since their stirring victory over Vanderbilt in the title game of the Hilton Garden Classic, the Hokies are 0-8 and are still in search of their first 2011 win.

Maryland 84, Longwood 38: Same song, different verse - the Lancers lost by 45 points when these teams met in Farmville last season. The Terrapins' superior size and rebounding ability carried the day, as Maryland won the battle of the boards 50-26, made 43 trips to the free-throw line and outscored Longwood in the paint 40-8. But enough numbers-crunching; the less said about this one the better. Here's hoping Longwood (4-15) got a few bucks out of the deal. But from a fan's standpoint, games like this tell us nothing about either team.

Eight is enough: Seems like everybody is playing on Sunday

Sunday's previews:

Virginia (12-10, 1-5 ACC) at Clemson (9-13, 2-5), 2 p.m.
Here's a golden chance for the Cavaliers to pick up a second ACC win. They've beaten the Tigers seven straight though are 13-14 at Clemson. Virginia's go-to player in the conference has been Ataira Franklin (10.7 in ACC games), but they need to develop more scoring consistency to make any noisein this conference. Both teams are coming off losses: Virginia to North Carolina and Clemson to Duke. Virginia 70, Clemson 59

Longwood (4-14) at Maryland (17-13), 2 p.m.
David, meet Goliath. The Terps, who lead the ACC in attendance, are ranked 14th nationally behind Alyssa Thomas (six double-doubles in the last seven games). They dominated the Lancers in Farmville 85-40 last year. Longwood is 1-7 on the road. Maryland 83, Longwood 48

Virginia Tech (9-11, 0-6) at North Carolina (18-3, 4-2), 2 p.m.
Hokies stunned the Tar Heels last year 79-64 in their finest performance of the season. We'd love to see it happen again. NC is ripe, with Jessica Breland out with a knee injury. But we're hard pressed to see the Hokies win in Chapel Hill for the first time ever. We like North Carolina's offense better than Tech's, and though we're pulling for the Hokies, we're not picking them. North Carolina 78, Virginia Tech 67

James Madison (14-6, 7-1 CAA) at Towson (7-12, 1-7), 2 p.m.
First-place Dukes vs. last-place Tigers? Easy, right? The last three in this series have been nailbiters. Last year the Dukes won in OT and two years ago the Tigers won by 10. Call us boring but we still like the team that has won nine of its last 10 versus the team that has dropped four straight. James Madison 70, Towson 58

Georgia State (7-12, 2-6 CAA) at Old Dominion (13-6, 7-1), 2 p.m.
Bring a can of food and get a ticket for $5. ODU was nearly beaten by the Panthers in Atlanta earlier this year but scored the last nine points to rally from five down with 2:23 left.Georgia State is only averaging 57 ppg. ODU, still in a tie for first with JMU and Wilmington, is not exactly a scoring machine, but we like Tia Lewis' chances to get another double-double. Old Dominion 63, Georgia State 55

Drexel (12-7, 4-4 CAA) at Virginia Commonwealth (11-7, 6-2), 2 p.m.
While the Dragons' conference record isn't all that daunting, Drexel remains a dangerous team, a fact the Rams can attest to. VCU hasn't won a home game against Drexel since 2008. The Dragons have won three straight in the series and six of the last eight. Those stats aside, we like VCU's chances behind Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour. But beware of the 3, Rams. Just ask the Tribe, beaten by Drexel at the buzzer thanks to a 3. VCU 58, Drexel 52

William and Mary (2-16, 1-7 CAA) at UNC Wilmington (15-4, 7-1), 2 p.m.
See above (JMU vs Towson) as this is another case of a first-place league team playing a last-place league team. Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has worked wonders with the Seahawks this season, who are 7-1 at home behind eight players shooting better than 40 percent from the field. The leader of the pack is Brittany Blackwell (15.9 ppg, 57 percent).  The Tribe has dropped three in a row in this series and despite a fine showing against ODU on Thursday, we're going with the surprise first-place team in the league. Wilmington 77, William and Mary 61

George Mason (9-10, 3-5 CAA) at Northeastern (8-11, 3-5), 2 p.m.
Patriots are coming off a great big road win at Delaware. Earlier in the week the Huskies dismissed sophomores Rachael Pecota and Afreya Tolbert from the team, saying they did not live up to team and department expectations. Pecota, who started eight games, was Northeastern's leading scoring (13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg). Tolbert, who started 15 games, averaged 9.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg. We give the nod to the Patriots given the turmoil. George Mason 62, Northeastern 60

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Liberty, Hampton cruise with suffocating defense

Saturday's results

Liberty 70, Winthrop 33: There's no such thing as a perfect defensive effort, but we suspect even Lady Flames coach Carey Green will be hard-pressed to find many flaws with the lockdown his team applied Saturday. Consider that Winthrop's top three scorers combined to score zero points. Devon Brown scored 15 points and Jelena Antic and Tolu Omotola added 11 apiece for Liberty (12-8, 6-1 Big South), which won for the eighth time in nine games and sixth straight time in an away game.

Hampton 52, Delaware State 29: Speaking of great defense.... We figured this would be a mismatch, but holding another Division I team to 29 points? Wow. The Lady Pirates (14-6, 7-1 MEAC) were no offensive juggernaut themselves (34 percent shooting). But when you hold the other guy to 15 percent shooting, you don't have to be. DelState scored only 11 points in the first half and made just 2 field goals in the second.

Morgan State 64, Norfolk State 60: Tough loss for the Spartans, who tied things at 56 on a 3-point play by Batavia Owens with 5:05 remaining but made only one of their next 10 field-goal attempts. That's 36 straight MEAC road losses for NSU (8-9, 1-6 MEAC), but the competitiveness of this game was encouraging. If the Spartans can battle Morgan State this closely away from home, that first MEAC road victory shouldn't be too far away. In fact, we think it may come as soon as Monday.

Radford 66, Coastal Carolina 55: We called them the hottest team in the state and the Highlanders (10-11, 7-1) keep proving it, staying atop with Big South with another win. They didn't get it done from the floor, shooting just 30 percent, but they dominated the line (24-of-29) compared to Carolina (8-of-10). Another tidy effort (9 turnovers) led by Ashley Buckhannon's 18 points.

Temple 84, Richmond 56: The Owls shot 52 percent from the field, which isn't too shabby, unless you consider that they were 61 percent from beyond the arc, burying a school-record 14 3-pointers. By contrast, the Spiders did not connect on any of their eight 3-point attempts. Temple (15-6. 6-0 A-10) scored the first 10, and Richmond (13-8. 4-3) never recovered. Abby Oliver was held to five points and only took four shots. Brittani Shells scored just 10 and Crystal Goring added 12. It's an official slump for Richmond, which needs to find a way to get its offense cooking again behind Shells and Oliver.

A few minutes with Radford's Da'Naria Erwin Spencer

The hottest team in the state? We like Radford, winners of six of its last seven games, good enough for first place in the Big South.The streak includes a 57-50 decision over Gardner-Webb and a come-from-behind thriller over defending champion Liberty in Lynchburg. Radford -- which just recorded its 600th program victory -- is off to its best conference start in 13 years.

They win with defense -- the Highlanders (9-11, 6-1) are atop the conference in steals -- and they win behind 5-5 sophomore guard Da'Naria Erwin Spencer, third in the conference in scoring (14.3 ppg). That would be Da'Naria Brinyelle Erwin Spencer, no hyphens anywhere, thank you.

Last year you guys lost to Liberty 66-33 during the regular season. This year you guys erased a 15-point deficit and ended a 16-game losing streak in Lynchburg (Erwin Spencer had 15 points, four assists and four steals in that one).What gives?

They jumped on us pretty good back then. We were intimidated because they were Liberty. They were Big South champions. ....(This year) we were down at the half, but we didn't get down on ourselves. We came out in the second half with a lot of intensity.

You guys are the comeback kids these days. You also rallied from 13 back against Presbyterian.

I don't know why. We start off games kind of slow.

Tell us about you. What do you like to do besides basketball?

I listen to music all the time. I have to go to sleep to music.

Rick Ross
Such as?

R&B before the game. I really like Rick Ross.

And to sleep?


What else?

I'm really into fashion. I'm really into shoes a lot. I have like 60 pairs. I used to be into Jordans; now I have a lot of different pairs. I like to be different, not like everybody else.

What do you want to do in life?

My major is sports administration. I'd love to be a coach or do something with athletics.

Tell us about your relationship with your coach (Tajama Abraham Ngongba)

She pretty much knows me. I think earlier in the season, I wasn't mentally there. I was going through some things. She sat down and talked to me. It really helped.

 Have any secret indulgences?

Real Housewives of Atlanta
"Real Housewives of Atlanta." It's so funny. I don't eat healthy at all. I like a lot of fried foods. .... Especially Wendy's chicken nuggets.

Do you watch basketball?

I like the Michigan State men. I like their style of play.

Favorite movie?

 I'd say the movie "Life" with Martin Lawrence.

Why Radford?

I didn't want to go to a major D-I school. I wanted to go to a school close to home (Charlotte).

Long term goals?

We’re going to try to keep it up, play harder, be unstoppable and try to win the big South

Saturday's games: NSU tries to play streak-buster again

Saturday's games

Norfolk State (8-8, 1-5 MEAC) at Morgan State (10-8, 4-2 MEAC), 2 p.m.
The Spartans wiped out one ugly streak by downing South Carolina State on Monday to snap a 24-game MEAC winless stretch (26 in you count MEAC tournament games). But another ugly streak remains intact - NSU has dropped 35 straight MEAC road games since a 69-59 win at Maryland-Eastern Shore on Jan. 3, 2007. Furthermore, their 3 conference losses this year have come by 16, 21 and 23 points. We're confident this Spartans team is good enough to finally prevail in another MEAC team's building. We're just not sure today will be the day they do it. Morgan State 67, Norfolk State 59

Richmond (13-7, 4-2 Atlantic 10) at Temple (14-6, 5-0 Atlantic 10), 2 p.m.
The Spiders can do themselves and all the other A-10 contenders a favor by bringing the red-hot Owls, winners of seven straight, back to the pack a bit. The matchup doesn't favor Richmond though, as Temple is a physical team that doesn't turn the ball over (13.2 per game, 9th in Division I). If Crystal Goring can continue her strong play (double-doubles in 3 of her last 4 games) and get help on the boards, the Spiders' starters can avoid foul trouble and Brittani Shells can shake out of a mini shooting slump, well, let's just say Richmond will need a lot of things to go right to get out of Philly with a W.  Temple 60, Richmond 57

Coastal Carolina (6-12, 0-6 Big South) at Radford (9-11, 6-1 Big South), 3 p.m.
The first-place Highlanders are off to their best Big South start in 13 years in large part because few teams in the country are as adept at taking the ball away from the other team. Radford averages 12.6 steals per game, 16th out of 333 Division I teams. Da'Naria Erwin Spencer (2.7 spg) and Brooke McElroy (2.2) are the chief thiefs, and Kahealani Vick is averaging 3.4 steals in her last five games. The Chanticleers struggle to score points anyway. With the Highlanders disrupting them, we're not sure they'll break 50. Radford 59, Coastal Carolina 49. NOTE: The Highlanders will honor Radford great Stephanie Howard at halftime. Howard scored a program-record 2,146 points from 1985-89. On Sept. 7, 1989, Howard became the first Highlander student-athlete in the program's 15-year history to have their jersey retired.

Delaware State (5-13, 1-5 MEAC) at Hampton (13-6, 6-1 MEAC), 4 p.m.
The Lady Hornets haven't just lost four straight games. They've lost four straight games at home. The last time they played on the road, they managed just 35 points in a 12-point loss at South Carolina State. Long story short, we like Hampton in this one. Hampton 69, Delaware State 53

Liberty (11-8, 5-1 Big South) at Winthrop (9-9, 3-3 Big South), 7 p.m.
The last time the Lady Flames visited Winthrop, they established a program record for fewest points allowed in a 52-18 rout. These Lady Eagles aren't those Lady Eagles, though. Winthrop has won 7 of its last 10 games and two weeks ago did something Liberty could not - beat Radford on its home floor. Both teams can get it done defensively so Liberty may not score many more than the 52 they got last year. The difference is this time, Winthrop will score a whole lot more than 18. By the way, belated congratulations to Liberty forward Avery Warley for earning Big South Player of the Week honors. The redshirt junior averaged 14.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in a pair of Liberty victories.  Liberty 58, Winthrop 55

Friday, January 28, 2011

UVa., Longwood offensively challenged in losses

Friday's results

#15 North Carolina 64, Virginia 52: Obviously 52 points isn't enough to threaten a high-scoring team like North Carolina. Paulisha Kellum was fearless in attacking the rim and finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. But the rest of the Cavaliers combined to make just 12 of 50 shots. Second-chance points would have helped, but the Cavs grabbed only 8 offensive rebounds. And while they forced 21 Tar Heels turnovers, Virginia scored only 13 points off those turnovers. Portsmouth native She'la White scored 14 points to lead the Tar Heels, who outrebounded Virginia 52-34 even though injuries left them without 6-5 center Shay Shegog and 6-3 forward Jessica Breland. As usual, the run-first, think-later Tar Heels (18-3, 4-2 ACC) took enough out-of-control shots and made enough mistakes to keep things fairly interesting, and Virginia's defense deserves some credit for that. If only a punchless offense hadn't undermined that effort.

Davidson 63, Longwood 53: Not sure what Davidson coach Michele Savage said to shooting guard Ashley Lax during the under-12-minute media timeout, but our guess is it was something like, "Hey Ashley, how 'bout jacking up a few threes?" We say that because when play resumed, Lax buried three straight 3-pointers in an 84-second span to turn a 37-37 tie into a 9-point Davidson lead. Since Ashley ranks 2nd in program history in 3-pointers made, we suppose you can say the Lancers' defense was a little Lax during that sequence (sorry, couldn't resist). Besides, defense wasn't the major problem. The Lancers shot just 32.8 percent, and their 53 points were the third-lowest total of the season. Morgan Smith led Longwood (4-14) with 14 points but was the only Lancer in double figures. Lax led Davidson (9-10) with 19 points.

UVa. visits UNC; Garrison's resurgence paces Longwood

Friday's games

Virginia (12-9, 1-4 ACC) at No. 15 North Carolina (17-3, 3-2 ACC), 6:30 p.m. TV (check local listings)
A week ago, we were concerned about a possible hangover after the Cavaliers' heartbreaking overtime loss to Maryland. Instead, the Cavs responded less than two days later by opening up a can o' whup-ass on shell-shocked Virginia Tech. Now it's the Tar Heels' turn to respond - they're just 3-3 in their last 6 games and are coming off Sunday's nationally televised 23-point loss at Maryland. The Tar Heels played that game - and will likely play this one - without senior Jessica Breland, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week. Breland's expected absence should help Virginia hold their own on the boards, something we think is a must for the Cavaliers to stay competitive. In addition, the Cavs must transition quickly to defense when they turn the ball over. The Tar Heels are going to get some steals; they had 17 of them against Maryland. But they scored only 9 points off Terrapin turnovers. That's the number to keep track of tonight. ACC road wins are especially hard to come by. But if UNC's points-off-turnover count is anywhere near that low again, the Cavaliers can give themselves a chance against the shorthanded Tar Heels. Call us crazy, but...  Virginia 75, UNC 72

By the way, the Tar Heels will retire the number (42) of former star Nikki Teasley during halftime tonight. I remember watching the incredible things Teasley could do with a basketball during a practice at her high school, St. John's at Prospect Hall. I left that practice thinking Teasley may have been the most talented player I'd ever seen. Turns out I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

"She could do more things with a basketball than any player I've ever coached, male or female," says Stu Vetter, who coached St. John's nationally prominent boys' team when Nikki was there. During clinics Nikki would perform a ball-handling drill in which she walked the length of the court with two basketballs, simultaneously dribbling them through her legs, right hand to right hand, left hand to left, back to front. "Picture that," says Vetter. "It was mind-boggling to watch. The guys would be on the side of the court slapping hands, going nuts."

Teasley went on to set a number of UNC records, and her career assist total (5.8) is the highest in ACC history. She also sat of seven games during the 1999-2000 season and missed all of 2000-01 while battling depression. Ironically, it was prior to boarding a bus for a game against Virginia in January, 2000 that Teasley first disclosed to coach Sylvia Hatchell that she needed some time away.

Davidson (8-10) at Longwood (4-13), 7 p.m. (
Click here to watch)
Monday's 76-66 victory over UNC Asheville was another showcase for the triumphant return of senior Krystal Garrison, who appeared in 81 games her first three seasons but was not with the team at the beginning of 2010-11. Garrison re-joined the Lancers shortly after Bill Reinson was installed as interim head coach, and it took her a while to get her basketball legs back. But in the six games since she became a starter, Garrison is averaging 15.5 ppg including a career-high 25 points against UNC Asheville. She is also shooting 46.1 percent from 3-point range (12 of 26) over those six games. The Lancers are 2-2 at home under Reinson and should have extra support as tonight is also the "Pack the House Dorm Challenge." Residence halls on campus will compete to have the most folks in attendance. The Lancers must also do something about Davidson star Sophia Aleksandravicius (17.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.3 bpg). Longwood 71, Davidson 65

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three-way tie for first remains in CAA; Patriots upset Delaware

James Madison 66, Drexel 60:
Dukes (14-6, 7-1 CAA) dominated the free-throw line going there 25 times to Drexel's six, with the end result was JMU's fifth straight win. Lauren Jimenez led the way with a game-high 19 points and Dawn Evans added 18. JMU remains atop the league with ODU and UNC Wilmington, both winners on Thursday. The Dragons, who had not lost to the Dukes in Philly in five years, dropped their first game at home this season.

Virginia Commonwealth 67, Georgia State 52
Shooting a season-high 52 percent from the field, the Rams (11-7, 6-2) won for the seventh time in nine games behind none other than Courtney Hurt (19 points) and Andrea Barbour (23 points). Barbour's 23 points was her highest output since joining the VCU lineup on Dec. 23.  She is averaging 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in the Rams' last nine outings. "We talked about trying to turn it up a bit defensively and we really came out with that focus in the final 20 minutes," said VCU coach Beth Cunningham. "Offensively, we shot the ball well percentage-wise but a lot of that was about us making good decisions and taking good shots."

Old Dominion 68, William and Mary 55
What looks like a routine score wasn't quite so easy. ODU (13-6, 7-1 CAA) had to work for its 51st straight win in this series and was unable to shake W&M until the final five minutes of the game. On a night when Jasmine Parker struggled with six points, Tia Lewis posted a double-double 13 points and 15 rebounds and ODU got some help from beyond the arc. The Lady Monarchs nailed seven 3, including three apiece from Jackie Cook and Kquanise Byrd. ODU couldn't stop Taysha Pye, who poured in 29, but W&M (2-16, 1-7) was unable to take advantage of 19 Lady Monarch turnovers, many of them unforced.

George Mason 51, Delaware 48
Elena, we needed you! Delle Donne could play as early as Sunday for the Blue Hens (the sophomore is taking medication for Lyme disease), and that couldn't be soon enough for Delaware, which dipped to 4-5 in the league. Delaware had taken five straight in this series, but a pair of turnovers in the final seconds and two made free throws by Rahneeka Saunders rallied the Patriots (9-10, 3-5) to their first CAA road win.

Georgia Tech 78, Virginia Tech 57
The good news is Alyssa Fenyn set a career best with 17 points and the Hokies only turned it over 13 times against the 25th-ranked Yellow Jackets' formidable defense. But the month is ending and the Hokies (9-11, 0-6) are still searching for their first ACC win. Still, Beth Dunkenberger didn't sound nearly as glum as she did after Tech fell to Virginia. “This was certainly a much better effort tonight against a top 25 opponent,” she said. “I thought we had nice stretches on the defense, where we were able to rattle them and force them into 20 turnovers. As this is life in the ACC, it gets no easier. Next up: No. 15 North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. .

Trick(shots) of the trade

Thanks to an ACL tear last summer, the left knee of UConn's Caroline Doty is still on the mend. But as you can see from this clip, there's nothing wrong with her shot right now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

JMU-Drexel highlights Thursday's CAA slate

First of all, congratulations to Dawn Evans for being nominated one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior Class Award. Now, UConn's Maya Moore is also a finalist, so our first thought was, well, that's that. But the Lowe's Award "focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platforms in athletics to make a positive impact in their communities." No disrespect to Marvelous Maya, but we don't think anyone has done that last part as well as Evans. 

So if you think Dawn Evans better get that award, say, Ho! (Ho!)
Say Ho, Ho! (Ho, Ho!)
Somebody scream!

Oops, thought there was a party up in here for a minute. Seriously, fan voting is part of the deal, so click here to vote for Dawn. 

And now, for Thursday's games:

Georgia Tech (17-5, 5-1 ACC) at Virginia Tech (9-10, 0-5), 7 p.m.
The Hokies may not be able to beat Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have won 14 of their last 15 games - the loss was to undefeated Duke - and this week finally cracked the AP Top 25. But there's a lot the Hokies can do. On Sunday, they were humiliated in a 72-37 loss at Virginia a tearful coach Beth Dunkenberger called "rock bottom." So tonight, the Yellow Jackets can't stop the Hokies from using whatever soul-searching they engaged in after the UVa. debacle to play as hard as they can possibly play. To exhibit the level of teamwork they've practiced and preached about since September. And to leave everything they have on the Cassell Coliseum hardwood, for themselves, Hokie Nation and the sitting-on-the-hotseat coach that brought them to Blacksburg in the first place. No,VTech may not have it in them to beat GTech. But a lot of what the Hokies need to do tonight - what they owe it to a lot of people to do tonight - is totally within their control. Georgia Tech 61, Virginia Tech 57

James Madison (13-6, 6-1 CAA) at Drexel (12-6, 4-3 CAA), 7 p.m.
A game with the methodical Dragons is almost guaranteed to come down to the final possession - prior to Sunday's 69-57 victory over Hofstra, Drexel had played four straight games decided by three points or less or in overtime. The one game that required the extra period was a 77-73 loss to these Dukes in Harrisonburg on Jan. 13. Drexel's Hollie Mershon tossed in a miracle 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime. The Dukes prevailed despite the absence of senior center Lauren Jimenez, who sat out with concussion-like symptoms. Jimenez has averaged 17.7 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games since her return, and her presence in the lineup tonight should allow the Dukes to hit the road and take down the Dragons again. But naturally, it'll be a close call. JMU 66, Drexel 64

Old Dominion (12-6, 6-1 CAA) at William and Mary (2-15, 1-6), 7 p.m.
The Lady Monarchs don't have many of their fabulous streaks of success against CAA foes left. But this one remains intact - ODU has won 50 straight games against the Tribe, the second-longest active such streak behind Stanford's 51 straight games reign over Washington State. We don't see that one ending any time soon, and while the Tribe snapped one streak (9 straight losses) on Sunday against George Mason, their run of futility against the Lady Monarchs seems likely to live on. ODU 66, William and Mary 52

Georgia State (7-11, 2-5 CAA) at Virginia Commonwealth (10-7, 5-2 CAA), 4 p.m.
Earning a split in games at Old Dominion and James Madison last week was nice work. What haunts the Rams - and the reason they're a game back of the three conference leaders, was that loss at Towson two weeks ago. VCU can't afford any more slip-ups in games they can win. The Panthers are a solid defensive team but have been held to 48 points or less in their last two games and in four of their seven CAA contests. VCU has too much firepower for these guys, especially at home. VCU 65, Georgia State 49

George Mason (8-10, 2-5 CAA) at Delaware (11-7, 4-3 CAA), 7 p.m.
Even without Elena Delle Donne, the Blue Hens have been a tough out. Only UNC Wilmington has had their way with them; their other conference losses are by three points to Old Dominion and three points at Drexel. Meanwhile, the Patriots simply haven't been able to get it done on the road; Sunday's 12-point loss at one-win William and Mary was Mason's seventh straight away loss since a 5-point victory over UMass in the Nov. 12 season opener.  Delaware 58, George Mason 52

Richmond falls to Charlotte

Charlotte 73, Richmond 62
They played this one early as part of Dream Big Day for the Richmond schools, but this was anything but a dream for the Spiders (13-7, 4-2 A-10), who dropped their second straight. Jennifer Hailey unleashed 26 points and 14 rebounds for the 49ers. Abby Oliver (21 points) gave Richmond a 55-52 edge at the 7:23 mark, but Charlotte (16-5, 4-2) ran off 11 straight to steal this one back. Brittani Shells, who had an off shooting night on Saturday against Dayton, had another ragged effort, scoring 15 on 7-of-23 shooting. Crystal Goring put in a second consecutive consistent effort (14 points, 11 boards, 4 steals), but Charlotte dominated the paint, outscoring Richmond 52-28.

Richmond hosts Charlotte in Wednesday matinee

Charlotte (15-5, 3-2 Atlantic 10) at Richmond (13-6, 4-1 Atlantic 10), noon
Almost missed this one because of the early start. The 49ers prevailed 60-46 when these teams met a year ago in Charlotte. Weird game - tied at 46 with just over 5 minutes to go, Richmond never scored again. Today is Dream Big Day so the Spiders will have the support of hundreds of elementary school kids. This third in a four-game gauntlet of A-10 contenders following last week's contests at Duquesne and against Dayton. On Saturday, the Spiders will visit Temple. Spiders coach Michael Shafer suggested that fatigue may have been a factor in Saturday's 66-55 loss to Dayton. So here's hoping that the Spiders go into this one with plenty of rest, and, of course, a good breakfast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Delle Donne practicing despite Lyme

Latest word from Wilmington News Journal is that Elena Delle Donne, who we noted earlier today is taking medication for Lyme disease, returned to practice on Tuesday. It was the sophomore's first practice since Dec. 19. She is not expected to play Thursday at Hofstra but could return as early as Sunday against George Mason.

According to the story, Delle Donne had Lyme disease in the summer of 2008 but realized it right away, went on antibiotics and was fine. Initial symptoms of Lyme, which is caused by the bite of a deer tick, can include fever, chills, fatigue, joint and muscles aches.

Silent Majority rankings #12 (Jan. 25)

Previous rankings
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

1. Xavier (16-2, 5-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 1
A-10 Player of the Week Amber Harris averaged 23.5 ppg and 12 rpg in a 20-point victory over St. Bonaventure and a 21-point win at Charlotte. The Bonnies and 49ers have good teams. The Musketeers have a great team. On deck: Saturday vs. Rhode Island (6-13, 0-5 A-10). The win over St. Bonaventure was the 200th for coach Kevin McGuff.

2. Marist (17-2, 8-0 MAAC)
Last week: 2
Talk about dominating a league. The Red Foxes have held at least a share of first place in the MAAC for 54 straight weeks of league play, or since Jan. 30, 2005. Monday they had what passes for a close conference game, a 10-point victory at Loyola (Md.) that featured a 22-point, 9-of-10 shooting performance by Erica Allensbach. On deck: Friday at Rider (2-17, 2-6 MAAC); Monday vs. Siena (8-10, 6-2 MAAC)

3. Green Bay (18-1, 7-0 Horizon)
Last week: 3
It may have only been the second-most notable performance by a Green Bay team over the weekend, but the 83-47 dismantling by the Phoenix of Milwaukee was easily the most dominant. The Phoenix pressure defense forced 16 Milwaukee turnovers in the first 14 minutes and Green Bay led 42-13 at halftime. Meanwhile, Hannah Quilling continues to transition smoothly into the starting point guard's role in place of the injured Adrian Ritchie. Quilling set a Kress Center record with a career-high 11 assists against shell-shocked Milwaukee. On deck: Thursday at Butler (13-6, 7-0 Horizon); Saturday at Valparaiso (4-15, 1-6 Horizon).

4. Bowling Green (17-2, 5-1 MAC)
Last week: 7
Lauren Prochaska (23.5 ppg in 2 games, 19-of-19 from the free throw line) is Bowling Green's Papa John's Female Athlete of the Week. Wonder what you get for that, a certificate, or a large pepperoni? The great Prochaska is 41 points shy of Jackie Motycka's program record for career points (2,122). As for the Falcons, they will take a 23-game home winning streak into Wednesday's game vs. MAC West Division-leading Toledo. On deck: Wednesday vs. Toledo (13-6, 5-1 MAC); Saturday at Western Michigan (5-14, 1-5 MAC)

5. Duquesne (16-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 4
Richmond rallied from 21 down in the first half to win by 14 by feasting on a Duquesne weakness - a tendency to succumb to defensive pressure. The Dukes got back on track Saturday with their 10th straight road victory, an 81-65 win at LaSalle. Still, that game featured 23 Dukes turnovers, marking their fourth straight game with 20 or more. They'll need to clean this up. On deck: Wednesday at George Washington (5-13, 0-4 Atlantic 10); Saturday vs. Fordham (10-10, 2-2 Atlantic 10).
Related: McConnell-Serio has lifted Duquesne out of the doldrums

6. Princeton (12-3, 1-0 Ivy)
Last week: 6
Tigers will return to action Friday after a 20-day exams break. A year ago, Princeton whipped Brown by 31 points in their first game back, but they lost their second-half opener the previous two seasons and are just 5-4 in this game the past 9 seasons. Not sure this has anything to do with what will happen Friday. Just throwing it out there.... On deck: Friday at Brown (4-12, 0-2 Ivy); Saturday at Yale (6-10, 2-0 Ivy).

7. Middle Tennessee State (16-4, 7-0 Sun Belt)
Last week: 9
We talk so much about talented underclassmen with this team it's sometimes easy to forget there's a pretty good senior named Anne Marie Lanning out there, too. The Murfreesboro, Tenn. native scored 18 points and became the 25th Blue Raider to crack the 1,000 career points mark in Sunday's 71-68 victory over Denver. But it's not her scoring that has endeared Lanning to coach Rick Insell. "This year, she has been running around with all those infants on the floor and directing them where they need to go, and she's doing more coaching on the floor than I am doing off the floor," Insell said. Not surprisingly, Lanning virtually never leaves the floor - she's averaging 38.7 minutes per game. On deck: Wednesday at Florida Atlantic (4-14, 1-6 Sun Belt); Saturday at Florida International (7-14, 2-5 Sun Belt).

8. Gonzaga (17-4, 5-0 WCC)
Last week: 8
We're thinking the West Coast Conference might saving time and shipping costs by engraving the name Courtney Vandersloot on a few more Player of the Week Awards and send them out all at once. The Bulldogs' star seems destined to continue collecting 'em - this week's honor (Co-POW with Portland's ReZina TecleMariam) was her second straight and the 11th of her career. The Zags have won seven straight and 15 of their last 16. On deck: Thursday at St. Mary's (12-8, 4-1 WCC); Saturday at San Diego (11-8, 1-4 WCC)

9. Louisiana Tech (13-5, 5-0 WAC)
Last week: 10
Speaking of players who get greedy about Player of the Week honors, the Lady Techster's Chastity Ross earned the WAC award after averaging 31.0 ppg and 8 rpg in a pair of victories over Utah State and Nevada. The victory over Nevada featured the Lady Techsters wearing throwback sleeved jerseys in honor of the program's three national championship teams on a weekend marking the 30th anniversary of the program's first title. "At first they told us to come into the locker room and we thought we had gotten in trouble," junior guard Jasmine Bendolph said. "When we saw the jerseys, it was a shock to us because we didn't know anything about it. It was neat." On deck: Thursday at Idaho (10-7, 3-2 WAC); Saturday at Boise State (11-8, 2-3 WAC).

10. Florida Gulf Coast (15-1, 8-1 Atlantic Sun)
Last week: 5
Maybe it was all that national attention. One day after being featured in USA Today and after living by the 3-pointer all season - and it was a long and prosperous life - the Eagles finally died by it last week. FGCU hit just 7 of 31 attempts and failed to make more treys than its opponent for the first time in 2010-11 in a 70-52 loss to Stetson that leaves Duke as Division I's only remaining unbeaten team. To the Eagles credit, they bounced back Monday with a much more vintage performance - 11 3-pointers in a 20-point victory at Campbell. On deck: Saturday at Lipscomb (7-12, 4-6 Atlantic Sun); Monday at Belmont (7-12, 4-6 Atlantic Sun).

11. TCU (14-6, 6-0 Mountain West)
Last week: 12
The Horned Frogs' 56-46 victory over Utah Saturday was their eighth straight and gave them their best start since joining the Mountain West in 2005. TCU hasn't lost since dropping a 60-57 decision to Georgia on Dec. 22. On deck: Wednesday vs. New Mexico (6-11, 0-5 MVC); Saturday at Air Force (6-12, 1-4 MVC).

12. Houston (15-4, 6-0 Conference USA)
Last week: 14
The Cougars separated themselves from Memphis Sunday with 60 percent second-half shooting en route to an 81-68 win. Brittany Scott scored 15 of her 20 points after the break, and Courtney Taylor narrowly missed yet another double-double with 19 points and 9 rebounds. The 6-0 C-USA record marks the team's best start in its 15 seasons in the league. On deck: Thursday at UCF (11-8, 4-2 C-USA); Sunday vs. SMU (10-8, 3-2 C-USA).

13. Richmond (13-6, 4-1 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 13
The Spiders were at their disruptive-defending, full-throttle offensive best in rallying from 21 points down to win by 14 at Duquesne. Not surprisingly, the Spiders couldn't quite sustain that level three days later and paid for it against Dayton. That leaves us with a situation where Richmond has beaten Duquesne, Duquesne has beaten Dayton and Dayton has beaten Richmond, all on the road. Throw in conference unbeaten Temple and the A-10 would be having one heck of a title race if those bullies from Xavier weren't around. On deck: Wednesday vs. Charlotte (15-5, 3-2 Atlantic 10); Saturday at Temple (13-6, 4-0 Atlantic 10). 
RelatedShells explores her two passions - film and basketball - at UR

14. Tulane (16-3, 5-1 Conference USA)
Last week: 12
Last Thursday, the Green Wave missed 25 of 32 3-point attempts in an 86-81 overtime loss to Southern Miss. Three days later, they took just 8 3-point shots, scored 38 points in the paint and went to the free throw line 41 times (making 29) in an 80-66 win at Tulsa. You think Green Wave coach Lisa Stockton said a few words about attacking the rim between games? On deck: Thursday vs. Rice (11-9, 3-3 C-USA); Sunday vs. UTEP (11-7, 3-3 C-USA).

15. Old Dominion (12-6, 6-1 CAA)
Last week: 15
VCU's 63-60 victory over the Lady Monarchs postponed the 600th victory celebration ODU had in mind for coach Wendy Larry, but three days later the party went on as scheduled after the Lady Monarchs routed Towson. ODU has this pressure defense it can apply that has completely disrupted teams. The Lady Monarchs don't use it often - not sure they have the depth for that - but when Larry has called for it, it hasn't appears as though anyone in the CAA has had an answer. On deck: Thursday at William and Mary (2-15, 1-6 CAA); Sunday vs. Georgia State (7-11, 2-5 CAA).

16. Dayton (12-7, 3-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 20
The Flyers' gritty 66-55 victory at Richmond Saturday kept Dayton in solid contention for a Top-4 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament. That's important, as the top four teams receive first-round byes and have to win just three games to take the title instead of four. On deck: Wednesday vs. LaSalle (5-14, 1-3 A-10); Saturday vs. St. Joseph's (12-7, 2-3 A-10).

17. Charlotte (15-5, 3-2 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 16
No shame in Saturday's 82-61 loss to physically superior Xavier. Wednesday's game at Richmond is another toughie, especially since the 49ers will have to deal with not only the Spiders but hundreds of screaming elementary school children after the noon tip. On deck: Wednesday at Richmond (13-6, 4-1 A-10); Sunday at St. Louis (6-13, 0-4 A-10)

18. Hampton (13-6, 6-1 MEAC)
Last week: 17
The Lady Pirates were cruising past Bethune-Cookman up 17 with less than 12 minutes left before a stunning collapse resulted in a four-point loss. Hampton rebounded nicely two nights later to win at Florida A&M and returned from their two-game swing through the Sunshine State in the same spot they were in when they left - alone in first in the MEAC. In other words, the Bethune-Cookman loss erased some of margin for error, but barring any more collapses, it shouldn't stop Hampton from winning the league's regular-season title. On deck: Saturday vs. Delaware State (5-13, 1-5 MEAC); Monday vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore (7-12, 4-2 MEAC).

19. Temple (13-6, 4-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 18
The Owls had more of a struggle with Temple than we expected (62-55), but strange things often happen when those Big Five teams hook up. Penn's 55 points were 12 more than the defense-first Owls had allowed in any of their previous three games. On deck: Wednesday at UMass (6-14, 2-3 A-10); Saturday vs. Richmond (13-6, 4-1 A-10).

20. James Madison (13-6, 6-1 CAA)
Last week: 19
The Dukes welcomed senior center Lauren Jimenez back after she missed three games with concussion-like symptoms. Jimenez performed as though she'd never left the floor as she averaged 17.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg in victories over William and Mary and VCU. JMU, ODU and UNC Wilmington are all tied for first in the CAA with 6-1 league marks. On deck: Thursday at Drexel (12-6, 4-3 CAA); Sunday at Towson (7-11, 1-6 CAA).

21. Fresno State (13-6, 4-1 WAC)
Last week: 21
Jaleesa Ross scored 12 points in Monday's 79-55 victory over Hawaii and needs just 9 more to break Yvette Roberts' 22-year-old Bulldogs all-time scoring record (1,788 points). Typically a 2-guard, Ross devoted a lot of her time to the point in place of freshman Taylor Thompson, who sat out with a knee injury. On deck: Thursday vs. San Jose State (2-16, 2-3 WAC); Saturday at Nevada (13-5, 2-3 WAC).

22. UNC Wilmington (14-4, 6-1 CAA)
Last week: 22
Brittany Blackwell and Alisha Andrews swept the Colonial Athletic Association's weekly awards for the second time this month. Blackwell took player-of-the-week honors after averaging 18 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 84.2 percent from the field in victories over Delaware and Northeastern. Andrews was named the league's top rookie after she averaged 10 points, 8 assists and 3 steals in the two games. This duo also swept the league's awards on Jan. 3, and each of them has won their respective awards on one other occasion. On deck: Thursday vs. Hofstra (11-7, 3-4 CAA); Sunday vs. William and Mary (2-15, 1-6 CAA).

23: Wyoming (14-4, 4-1 Mountain West)
Last week: NR
The Cowgirls lowered the boom on Air Force, winning by 42 (96-54) for their third straight victory and 9th in their last 10 games. Senior forward Hillary Carlson earned MVC Player of the Week honors for the third time this season after averaging 23.5 points, 7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in victories over Seattle and Air Force. On deck:  Wednesday at UNLV (9-11, 2-4 MWC; Saturday vs. San Diego State (8-9, 2-3 MWC).

24. Northern Iowa (14-5, 7-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week: NR
The Panthers rarely turn the ball over, ranking second in Division I to Marist in fewest turnovers (13.2). But they don't mind taking the ball away. On Sunday they turned 31 Southern Illinois turnovers into 36 points en route to a 79-39 decision and their sixth straight victory. The 79 points were three more than the Panthers allowed in their last two games combined. On deck: Saturday vs. Bradley (10-9, 3-5 MVC).

25. Arkansas-Little Rock (13-5, 7-0 Sun Belt)
Last week: NR
Saturday's 68-54 decison over Florida Atlantic was the Trojans' 10th straight victory since a 64-47 loss at Memphis on Dec. 11. UALR is holding teams to just 52.5 points per game, the 12th-best figure in Division I, and Chastity Reed is averaging a Sun Belt-best 19.6 points per game. On deck: Saturday vs. Arkansas State (11-10, 4-4 Sun Belt).

Hey, what about us?

 - Central Michigan (12-6, 4-2 MAC) - The Chippewas showed great resilience in holding off a hot Toledo team 77-74 last week. Would have liked to have seen them offer more resistance to Bowling Green (90-62) but hey, that's why the Falcons are No. 4 in this poll.

- Cal Poly (11-7, 7-0 Big West) - The Mustangs went 4-7 during the 2010 portion of their schedule but are 7-0 since the calendar turned over with a win over everyone else in the Big West except UCSB.

- VCU (10-7, 5-2 CAA) - A bit of a mixed bag last week for the Rams, who dealt ODU its first loss before struggling against James Madison.

- Lamar (14-6, 3-1 Southland) - The Lady Cardinals have moved up to 86th in the RPI, the program's highest since the index was made public prior to the 2005-06 season.

- St. Joseph's (12-7, 2-3 Atlantic 10) - A good team caught up in the pack of a very deep A-10.

 - Memphis (14-6, 3-3 Conference USA) - Brittany Carter (23 points) gave Houston fits before the Cougars prevailed by 14.

 - Missouri State (15-4, 6-1 Missouri Valley) - Has won four straight since a Jan. 6 loss at Northern Iowa.

 - St. Bonaventure (13-7, 3-2 Atlantic 10) - Took out the frustrations of a 20-point loss at Xavier by pounding Rhode Island by 14.

CAA notes: Delle Donne could have Lyme disease

Around the horn in the CAA:

EDD update: Elena Delle Donne is feeling better, at least a little. But Delaware coach Tina Martin said last year's CAA Player of the Year has not practiced since Dec. 19.

Martin said Lyme disease is one possibility to explain the sophomore's symptoms, which include heaviness in the arms and legs, nerve problems and back issues. Delle Donne has seen the gamut of specialists, including a spine specialist since she began having problems in late November.

"Most of the time she's at doctors' offices when we have been having our practices almost for the full month," Martin said. "She's on medication now and she's starting to feel better."

Delle Donne is doing some running, said Martin, and will soon start shooting. Martin is still hopeful the 6-5 center All-American, who was leading the nation in scoring before having to sit out, will return this season. "It's going to be a long haul," she said. "She'll need to get back in shape, and hopefully she'll be able to do that. She is starting to feel better, which is a good sign because for weeks and weeks and weeks she saw all these specialists and we couldn't figure out what it was."


W&M coach Debbie Taylor let out a "Whew-hoo!" to celebrate the Tribe's first conference victory on Sunday. W&M, which defeated George Mason 69-57, bemoaned her team's lack of inconsistency for much of the season.

"We might be the most inconsistent team in America," Taylor said. "In the last three games, we've gotten a lot more consistent. We've started to play together better, and in turn, be a better team."

In the first of those games, W&M was beaten by Drexel at the buzzer. The Tribe held Dawn Evans without a field goal in the first half of its next game before enduring foul trouble and running out of gas, Taylor said. The Tribe was also without Emily Correal in that game because of a flagrant foul called against her in the first half of W&M's game against VCU on Jan. 2.

W&M only played seven players against the Dukes in Harrisonburg and led 35-31 at the break.

"That's one of the efforts I'm most proud of," Taylor said. "Both of those games provided the jolt of confidence we need."

The Tribe hosts Old Dominion on Thursday. Quipped Taylor: "I'm just happy I'm not Wendy Larry's 600th game."

Larry marked her 600th career victory on Sunday by defeating Towson.


The Patriots are seeing excellent competition in the league, coach Jeri Porter said, but mental toughness has a lot to do with her team's 2-5 CAA record.

"We've got to be tougher," Porter said. "That's a word that comes up a lot in our vernacular."

Hampton High School graduate Evelyn Lewis has provided some much needed size at 6-3, but Porter said the transfer from Penn State has struggled offensively. "Her offense has been sketchy," Porter said. "She has given us some size and done a pretty good job defending."

The Rams became only the second CAA team to defeat ODU twice on its home floor with a 63-60 victory last Thursday. James Madison is the other.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Norfolk State gets that elusive 1st MEAC win

Monday's games

Norfolk State 73, South Carolina State 65: Finally! Norfolk State's releases hails the Spartans for snapping a 24-game MEAC losing streak; we called it a 26-game streak as we added in first-round losses in the last two MEAC tournaments. But hey, 24 games, 26 games, who cares? They're both over. It didn't seem as though this would be the night early, for after a first half in which only Whitney Long (13 points) was feelin' it, the Spartans trailed by eight. But over the final 20 minutes, NSU was smoking. After not scoring at all in the first half, Tyisha Bridges (13 points) and Rae Corbo (12) went off in the second. And Long continued filling it up and finished with 24. The Spartans (8-8, 1-5 MEAC) finished with 48 second-half points, or five more than they managed in an entire game exactly one week ago in a 65-43 loss at Howard. That game left us wondering what was up with an NSU team that had showed so much promise in November and December. But since then, the Spartans have spanked N.C. Central and now have their first MEAC victory since their 75-52 thrashing of South Carolina State on Feb. 21, 2009. No need to break out the confetti, as we expect - and they should, too - to starting ringing the bell in the MEAC much more often now. But it had to start with one, and after nearly two years of conference futility, the Spartans finally have that one.

Hampton 59, Florida A&M 47: Only seven Lady Pirates played; good thing four of them scored in double figures. Surprisingly, offensive sparkplug Nicole Hamilton wasn't one of them. The freshman who came in averaging a MEAC-best 19.0 ppg in conference-only games finally had an off night, finishing with just 3 points on 1-of-9 shooting. This time another freshman led the way: Chikilra Goodman produced 15 points - one shy of her career high - 6 rebounds and 3 assists in what at least statistically was her best performance of the season. The Lady Pirates (13-6, 6-1 MEAC) led by just one at halftime, but gradually pulled away from a frigid Lady Rattlers team that hit just 4 of its 27 second-half field goals.

Radford 60, Charleston Southern 56: Don't look now - OK, go ahead - but the same Highlanders who began the year seemingly in freefall with a 3-10 record now find themselves off to the program's best start since the 1997-98 season and alone in first place in the Big South. The disruptive Highlanders defense was at it again, as Radford had 10 steals and scored nearly half its points (29) off Charleston Southern turnovers. Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led the offense with 18 points, Victoria Hamilton added a career-high 14 points and Ashley Buckhannon contributed 12 points for the Highlanders (9-11, 6-1 Big South).

Longwood 76, UNC Asheville 66: The Lancers found a solution to their struggles in close games - don't make it close. Longwood (4-13) had dropped four straight games by four points or less and were flirting with a fifth heartbreaking defeat down three with just over 8 minutes remaining. But Krystal Garrison scored 7 of her season-high 25 points during an 11-0 second half run that wiped out a 3-point UNC Asheville lead and leave the Lancers in command for good. Emilee Dunton added 13 points, Mina Jovanovic chipped in 12 and Brittany Jones 10 for Longwood. And it wasn't just a four-game losing streak that Longwood ended. Heading into the game, the Lancers were 0-7 on the road.

Liberty 58, Coastal Carolina 54: The Lady Flames began the game with a 33-game winning streak against Coastal, and thanks to Avery Warley, it's now at 34. Over the final 85 seconds, the redshirt junior forward blocked a shot, grabbed two rebounds went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to help Liberty survive. Warley's late heroics capped the latest in a string of sensational efforts for the Courtney Hurt of the Big South, as she finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for her fifth straight double-double and seventh in her last eight games. Jelena Antic (11 points), Devon Brown (11) and Tomu Omotola (10) also finished in double figures for the Lady Flames (11-8, 5-1 Big South), who won for the seventh time in their last eight games.

League-leaders Hampton, Radford tip off tonight

Monday's games

Hampton (12-6, 5-1 MEAC) at Florida A&M (8-9, 4-2 MEAC), 5:30 p.m.
Still trying to figure out how the Lady Pirates blew that 17-point lead over the final 11:36 Saturday at Bethune-Cookman. Hampton can't worry about that now, though, as A&M is good enough to make the Lady Pirates pay for having a Saturday night hangover. Hampton 65, Florida A&M 55

South Carolina State (6-9, 2-3 MEAC) at Norfolk State (7-8, 0-5 MEAC), 6 p.m.
On Feb. 21, 2009, the Spartans hammered South Carolina State 75-52 at Echols Arena. NSU hasn't beaten a full-fledged MEAC opponent since, a streak that now spans 26 games. We know it's going to end sometime this year. Why not tonight? Norfolk State 65, South Carolina State 61

Coastal Carolina (6-11, 0-5 Big South) at Liberty (10-8, 4-1 Big South), 7 p.m.
Speaking of streaks, the Lady Flames have beaten Coastal Carolina 33 straight times, the 7th-longest current streak  in Division I. There's absolutely no reason to think anything changes tonight against a Liberty team that appears to have settled into its typically dominant Big South form. Liberty 69, Coastal Carolina 49

Longwood (3-13) at UNC Asheville (8-9), 7 p.m.
The hard-luck Lancers have lost four straight games by four points or less. Three of those losses came on the road, where Longwood has yet to win in seven games. All signs point to another close encounter for the Lancers; the guess is that tonight they finally break through. Longwood 72, UNC Asheville 69

Charleston Southern (9-10, 3-3 Big South) at Radford (8-11, 5-1), 7 p.m.
The surprising Highlanders have won five of their last six and current sit atop the Big South standings, one-half game ahead of Liberty and Gardner-Webb - and Radford has beaten them both. We used to hope for Radford to win. Now, especially at home, we're expecting it. Radford 61, Charleston Southern 55

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wendy joins 600 club; JMU, W&M(!) winners; Cavaliers crush Hokies

Wendy got her 600th, Tech got killed, W&M finally earned a CAA win and James Madison took care of VCU. Three-way tie for first in the CAA among ODU, JMU and UNC Wilmington. What a Sunday of women's basketball.

Old Dominion 71, Towson 43:
We start with this game because of how monumental an achievement it is to win 600 games. Wendy is the 12th active Division I coach to reach that amount and the 21st D-I coach overall. What Larry must like most about this one was that it was a team effort. Alena Voronina led with 13 points, six boards and five steals; Kquanise Byrd had 12, Jasmine Parker, 11, Tia Lewis, 9. Just like old times, ODU (12-6, 6-1 CAA) led by 30.

Virginia 72, Virginia Tech 37
Brutal game for the Hokies, who drop to 0-5 in the ACC. The victory was the Cavaliers' most lopsided ACC win since 2001 (Maryland). It was Virginia Tech's lowest output ever in a conference game. An obviously dejected Beth Dunkenberger said after the game, "If you are wondering if this is rock bottom, I would say it is hard to imagine getting any lower than this. But they say once you hit rock bottom, you only have one way to go, and that is up. So, we'll look up." The Hokies coach also added, "I have no doubt in my mind that our team is very disappointed in how we played. But more importantly, in forgetting what a team is about." Meanwhile, the win was just what Virginia (12-9, 1-4) needed after a crushing loss to Maryland on Friday. Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said when the Cavs practiced on Saturday, "We talked a little bit about the game and tried to put the game behind us, but the mood was terrible. Not because they weren't ready to practice, just because they were very, very disappointed with what happened. When we got on the floor, everything changed. Everybody was very positive. It was a very short practice, but they went very hard."

James Madison 69, VCU 59
Silly us. We picked against the Dukes (13-6, 6-1) because of how potent the Rams looked a few days ago in defeating ODU. Well, JMU is pretty potent itself behind the usual suspect Dawn Evans (19 points, 7 assists). JMU also was at the line 29 times to VCU's 12 and took care of the boards behind Jalissa Taylor's 12. Yeah, Courtney Hurt did her damage with 26 points and nine rebounds (she's now passed the 1,000 mark). "It was a good win (but) you would love to play a little bit better," said JMU coach Kenny Brooks. "We've got to play a complete 40-minute game to be where we want to be.

William and Mary 69, George Mason 57
While we don't like to see any state team lose, we are happy to see the Tribe break into the conference win column. Shooting 54 percent from the field with 25 from Taysha Pye, it's a wonder these guys don't win more often. Pye caught fire in the second half when she scored 21 of her 25. After a tie at 37, W&M (2-15, 1-6 CAA) put together an 11-2 run that sealed it. Lady Monarchs make the trip to Williamsburg on Thursday.

Tech/Virginia clash; Wendy goes for 600; Hurt vs. Evans in Harrisonburg

Sunday's previews:

Virginia Tech (9-9, 0-4 ACC) at Virginia (11-9, 0-4), 2 p.m.
The good news is one of these teams gets its first conference win today; the bad news is the other drops to 0-5 in the ACC. We suspect that will be Tech, as the Cavaliers own this series, particularly on their home floor, where they lead 16-3. No doubt Virginia is still reeling from a crushing OT loss to Maryland on Friday night. Tech hasn't a game in January despite the fine play of Shanel Harrison (12.9 ppg) and Monet Tellier (9.3 ppg). The Cavaliers, struggling to find a consistent scorer since the graduation of Monica Wright, have just one starter in double figure (Chelsea Shine, 11.3 ppg). Sunday is National Girls and Women Sports Day, and the school will honor former Virginia All-ACC track performer and current varsity football coach at Calvin Coolidge High School, Natalie Randolph. Virginia 62, Virginia Tech 53

Virginia Commonwealth (10-6, 5-1 CAA) at James Madison (12-5, 5-1), 2 p.m.
What can we say other than we wish we were there watching the two best players in the CAA in Courtney Hurt and Dawn Evans in a matchup between two teams tied for first in the league. Evans is the nation's top scorer (24.6 ppg); Hurt is third (23.8 ppg) and No. 1 in the NCAA in rebounding (13.4)  VCU looked awfully convincing in denying ODU coach Wendy Larry her 600th career victory on Thursday night. As dominant as Hurt has been with 15 double-doubles this season, Andrea Barbour and Sonia Johnson aren't too shabby either. This one might come down to supporting cast, and we give the edge to the Rams here thanks to the athletic Barbour and the towering presence of 6-foot Johnson. Or do we? Lauren Jimenez looked awfully good after returning from concussion-like symptoms and is JMU's leading rebounder. Tarik Hislop averages 10.6 ppg. VCU hasn't been particularly successful against the Dukes, but we like 'em here. VCU 73, JMU 72

Towson (7-10, 1-5 CAA) at Old Dominion (11-6, 5-1), 2 p.m.
Gotta figure ODU coach Wendy Larry gets No. 600 in this one, although we'd be remiss not to bring up Towson stunning the Lady Monarchs on Senior Night last  year in Norfolk with an OT win, its first ever in this series. ODU looked gritty in rallying back to nearly send its game with VCU into OT on Thursday, but the Lady Monarchs were hurt by poor rebounding and scoring lulls that allowed the Rams to leave the Constant Center with their second straight win in the building. Towson has dropped five of six, though surprisingly their lone victory in that stretch was over VCU. We're unsure whether Tia Lewis (elbow) will see much action in this one.  It's Big Blue's birthday (what is he, like 100?), so free ice cream and cake, cake, cake for the kids and save some for Wendy. ODU 69, Towson 54

George Mason (8-9, 2-4 CAA) at William and Mary (1-15, 0-6), 2 p.m.
After hanging tough with the league's top teams, the Patriots squeaked out a thriller over Drexel on Thursday. W&M hasn't been blessed with that fortune. The Tribe hasn't won a game since beating Norfolk State in December. Taysha Pye has had 11 straight games of 10 points or more, and Katherine DeHenzel leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. Does this mean anything? Not necessarily, though the Tribe has won five of six in this series and we like 'em to break that losing jinx. William and Mary 69, George Mason 62

Spiders fall to Dayton; Hampton stunned by Bethune-Cookman

Saturday's games

Dayton 66, Richmond 55: The Spiders have played so well so often you had to figure they were due for "one of those nights." Granted, senior center Crystal Goring displayed star-stuff with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Otherwise, the best shooting team in the Atlantic 10 missed layups, free throws (6 of their 9 in the first half) and 3-point shots (13 of their 15 for the game and all 10 in the second half) en route to a season-low 32.2 percent field-goal shooting. Richmond coach Michael Shafer suggested his players had tired legs after a week in which they played at Rhode Island and Duquesne before Saturday's game at the Robins Center. We'll buy that, but these same Spiders played with tremendous energy on defense, causing 22 turnovers and harassing the Flyers into a subpar shooting night themselves. Richmond couldn't do anything about Dayton's free throw shooting, though. The Flyers split their first two, made 20 straight, finally missed another one then connected on their final 8. The loss was the Spiders' first at home and dropped Richmond (13-6, 4-1 A-10) into third place behind Xavier (5-0) and Temple (4-1) in the A-10 standings. Then again, no one expected Richmond to run the A-10 table. The key now will be to rebound quickly with Charlotte due in on Wednesday. Given how well the Spiders have recovered after their previous losses, there's little reason to think they won't do so again.

Bethune-Cookman 55, Hampton 51: With 11:26 remaining in the second half, Jericka Jenkins nailed Hampton's 7th 3-pointer in 13 attempts and boosted the Lady Pirates' lead to 17 at 45-28. So how did Hampton (12-6, 5-1 MEAC) manage only 5 more points? By going 0-for-10 from the field, 0-for-5 from 3-point range and 5-for-13 from the free throw line the rest of the way in a stunning collapse for any team, let alone a team of Hampton's caliber. Full credit to the Wildcats for rallying to produce their second straight win over the Lady Pirates in Daytona Beach. But up 17 with less than 12 minutes to go? This one's on Hampton.

Radford 49, Presbyterian 45: We like this comeback a lot better. Down 35-22 with 13:04 left, the Highlanders (8-11, 5-1 Big South) figured if their offense couldn't do it, their defense would. They then proceeded to force 10 turnovers and limit the Blue Hose to 1-of-9 shooting in turning the 13-point deficit into an 8-point advantage with 23 seconds left. For the game, the Highlanders scored 29 of their 49 points off 30 Presbyterian turnovers.

Norfolk State 66, N.C. Central 55: Freshman Rae Corbo scored a career-high 21 points for the Spartans (7-8), who snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 4-2 at Echols Arena. N.C. Central, meanwhile, fell to 2-16. Remarkably - and we hate to bring this up - one of those victories was over Liberty. A key in this one was bench scoring. The Spartans got a combined 29 points from reserves Batavia Owens, Tyisha Bridges, Whitney Long and C.C. Chambers. The Eagles subs managed just 2 points.

Liberty 63, Charleston Southern 46: Another strong defensive effort from the Lady Flames (10-8, 4-1 Big South), who held the Lady Buccaneers to a season-low point total and 29-percent shooting. Avery Warley notched her fourth consecutive double-double (15 points, a season-high 16 rebounds) and Jelena Antic added 14 points and 7 boards for Liberty.