Sunday, January 2, 2011

JMU, ODU, VCU, NSU, GMU all winners

In a wild Sunday, here's what we learned:

--We're not as smart as we thought. Check out UNCW/Drexel result.

--The Hokies' win over Vandy was no fluke despite Sunday's heartbreaker.

--Courtney Hurt and Dawn Evans are as awesome in 2011 as they were in 2010.

Old Dominion 69, Towson 63
We thought ODU (7-5, 1-0) would dominate this game, and we know Wendy Larry can't be too pleased that the Lady Monarchs were outscored by seven in the second half. At the same time, she's got to be thrilled at Alena Voronina returning and scoring a big-time career high of 25 points. ODU shot 52 percent in winning its first true road game of the season and improved to 20-0 in CAA openers. Credit the Tigers (6-6, 0-1)  for keeping this one close thanks to five players in double figures and a plus-10 advantage on the boards.

James Madison 84, Northeastern 61
Another day, another 31 from Dawn Evans. We can't fault her shot selection either, as the senior landed a tidy 13-of-16 from the field including 5-of-7 from behind the arc. It's Evans 22nd 30-point game, and she did most of the damage in the second half, scoring 21. Amazing to hear from Kenny Brooks, "I almost scratched Dawn before the game. She (told) me, 'My energy level is really low today.' ....I thought she had unbelieveable rhythm." Also noteworthy: Lauren Whitehurst posting her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 boards. By the way, Dawn. What are you capable of when you have high energy?

VCU 73, William and Mary 61
The only reason this one was remotely close was because the Rams (6-5) shot an icky 17-of-39 from the free-throw line. The 1-2 punch of Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour combined for 32 points. We'd be remiss to not point out Hurt's gaudy 18 rebounds, a career best, against a pretty sizeable W&M (1-10) team that couldn't find its range (shooting 34 percent) at home.

Morehead State 82, Longwood 79
Credit the Lancers for hanging in after the Eagles (10-4) scored 50 in the first half to lead by 15. Credit Morehead State for winning despite dressing seven. If Longwood had a better long-range game, they might have pulled this one out. Morehead State shot nine 3s; Longwood had a pair of them. Longwood (3-10) got a layup from Krystal Garrison with 1:12 left to make what had been a 21-point MSU advantage into a two-point lead. Mina Jovanovic (15 points) added a free throw to make the margin one, but Courtney Lumpkin and Chynna Bozeman each hit a free throw to secure the victory.

Norfolk State 67, Savannah State 66
We know Debra Clarke has to be tickled with the Spartans (6-4) shooting 50 percent over a Savannah State team that prided itself on its defense. Whitney Long scored 22 for NSU and Rae Corbo, 19. Eight 3s kept the Savannah State (7-8) in it, but NSU had the edge at the free-throw line, nailing 21 of 26. What must have made Clarke's heart skip a beat was the 16-point lead NSU had that whittled down to two and really got scary when Ezinne Kalu's swished back-to-back 3s in the final eight seconds. Kudos to NSU for hitting its last four free throws, including four straight by Long to end the game.

Charlotte 60, Virginia Tech 58
We hurt for the Hokies (9-5), who rallied in this one to lead 58-57 with 30 seconds left. But with 3 seconds left, Shannon McCallum stunned Tech with a 3 from the wing (it was only Charlotte's second trey of the game). Marvelous effort by Shanel Harrison with 26 on 10-of-16 shooting. Tech was hurt by 26 turnovers and only got to the foul line five times compared to 26 for the 49ers (12-3). We won't let that spoil the momentum this team is building after winning their own holiday tournament by defeating Vanderbilt.

George Mason 71, Georgia State 47
Ashleigh Braxton's 19 plus 28 GSU turnovers made this one a rout at the Patriot Center. Braxton buried five of the Patriots' eight 3-pointers. George Mason played a clean game start to finish, missing just three of its 18 foul shots. It also helped that Georgia State shot 28 percent.

UNC Wilmington 69, Drexel 61
As you learned from our CAA preview, we were really in love with the Dragons, a thought we're reconsidering just a few hours after we posted our thoughts. Maybe we underestimated the job Cynthia Cooper Dyke is doing with the Seahawks, too, who are now 9-3 in her first year. Beating Drexel is actually nothing new for Wilmington, which holds a 5-3 mark in the series, including the last two. Here's really all you need to know. Wilmington shot 64 percent, something the Seahawks haven't done since this decade started. Sophomore guard Jessica Freeman poured a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to highlight the effort, which also included nine points, five assists and four steals from Alisha Andrews. The Dragons were a lowely 35 percent shooting from the field and trailed the whole way. "We were really able to execute in the half court," said Cooper-Dyke, who advised her team not to be afraid to win when Drexel cut it to four late in the game. Cooper-Dyke lamented her team's lack of offensive rebounding but otherwise praised the Seahawks for a stellar effort in their CAA opener.

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