Monday, January 17, 2011

Liberty, Radford battle for Big South lead

Monday's games

Radford (6-1, 3-1 Big South) at Liberty (9-7, 3-0 Big South), 7 p.m.
A battle of Big South frontrunners as the Lady Flames are the only unbeaten conference team while the Highlanders are tied with Gardner-Webb (11-6, 3-1) in second. There's also a battle-within-a-battle for Big South Player of the Week honors - Devon Brown scored 27 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer Friday against Radford while Da'Naria Erwin Spencer produced 24 points for the second straight game in Saturday's loss at High Point. History doesn't favor the Highlanders today, as they have lost 16 straight in this series on the road, including last year's 66-33 embarrassment on March 5. Liberty actually beat Radford three times last year - they also met in the Big South Tournament quarterfinals - and shot 51, 51 and 48 percent in the three games with a cumulative points-in-the-paint advantage of 108-32. In short, the Lady Flames pretty much got whatever shots they wanted against this team. The improved Highlanders almost can't help but offer more resistance this time, but expecting them to take down Liberty in Lynchburg seems to be expecting too much. The Lady Flames will take a five-game winning streak into the contest. Liberty 66, Radford 56

Norfolk State (6-7, 0-4 MEAC) at Howard (4-13, 1-3 MEAC), 6 p.m.
We're not going to bag on the Spartans for dropping Saturday's 75-54 decision at Hampton; winning on the home floor of the best team in the conference is a big ask. Similarly, we're not sure what to make of Howard's 69-53 stunner over North Carolina A&T Saturday. The Lady Bison began the week with the third-worst scoring offense in Division I and took a 7-game losing streak into the game. They then proceeded to score 22 points above their average in routing previously unbeaten-in-conference A&T - go figure. So if we're downplaying NSU's loss and Howard's win, that must mean we like the Spartans, right? Well.... We'd feel better about things if the Spartans weren't winless in MEAC road games since 2007, and Saturday's results shouldn't be discounted completely... Oh, what the heck. Norfolk State 53, Howard 50

North Carolina A&T (6-8, 3-1 MEAC) at Hampton (11-5, 4-0 MEAC), 6 p.m.
If any team is to trip up Hampton on its way to a defense of its MEAC title, it will likely be these Lady Aggies. Saturday's loss at Howard was a head-scratcher, particularly the performance of Lady Aggies star Jaleesa Sams, who attempted just 6 shots and scored 3 points in 37 minutes. Sams leads A&T in scoring at 15.0 ppg. Speaking of scoring, Lady Pirates newcomer Nicole Hamilton has played in just six games, but three of them have been conference games making her eligible for the MEAC-only statistical leaders. Hamilton is averaging 18.3 ppg in those games, making her No. 1 in the league in conference-only scoring. Hampton has won three straight and 10 of its last 11, and while we figure Sams will play more like Sams tonight, we learned to stop picking against Hampton a long time ago. Hampton 71, North Carolina A&T 63

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