Thursday, January 20, 2011

VCU holds off ODU; 4 teams tied for CAA lead

Number 600 will have to wait. VCU's Rams made sure of that by dominating on the boards and with the law firm of Hurt, Johnson and Barbour, then surviving some shaky late-game execution to leave Lady Monarchs coach Wendy Larry's career win total stuck on 599. Now, instead of one unbeaten squad lording over the rest of the CAA, there are four teams able to wag their index fingers and claim, We're No. 1! 

Current CAA Standings
UNC Wilmington      5-1   13-4
James Madison         5-1   12-6
Old Dominion           5-1   11-6
VCU                        5-1   10-6
Drexel                      3-3   11-6
Hofstra                     3-3   11-6
Delaware                 3-3    10-7
George Mason         2-4     8-9
Georgia State           2-4    7-10
Northeastern            2-4    7-10
Towson                   1-5    7-10
William and Mary    0-6    1-15

Thursday's games

VCU 63, Old Dominion 60: Courtney Hurt, Sonia Johnson and Andrea Barbour combined for 34 of 38 first-half points for the Rams, who built a 10-point halftime lead by getting second- and third-shots seemingly at will. They went into intermission with more offensive rebounds (14) than ODU had total rebounds, and a 24-10 advantage on the boards overall. The second half started out with more of the same and the Rams' lead grew to 14. No one can say this Lady Monarchs team won't fight, though. A week ago, they rescued a game at Georgia State by confounding the Panthers with pressure defense. Thursday, they damn near unhinged VCU with it, too, and a Jasmine Parker 3-pointer got the Lady Monarchs to within 2 with less than 3 minutes to go. But the Lady Monarchs turned it over on their next two possessions to slide back down 5. Then the Rams began acting as though they didn't want it, either, as they missed all five of their free throws over the final 1:09. But Parker's potential game-tying 3-pointer with 6 seconds left fell short, and Jo Guilford's 35-foot  prayer at the buzzer went unanswered as well. The nation's leading rebounder, Hurt finished with 16 of VCU's 39 rebounds along with a 19 points. Johnson also had 19 points for the Rams and Barbour added 11, all in the first half. Tia Lewis and Kquanise Byrd paced ODU with 11 points each. Both teams left the game with stuff they need to work on. But the Rams also left with a victory, a share of the CAA lead and the knowledge that, after going 36 years without a victory against the Lady Monarchs in Norfolk, VCU teams are now 2-for-2.

James Madison 72, William and Mary 59: It wasn't close at the end, but for much of the night the Tribe were positioning themselves nicely for their first CAA win. With Taysha Pye on, Dawn Evans off  and the Dukes missing layups with alarming frequency, the Tribe led through most of the first half and were still up 4 with about 15 minutes left in the second. Then Dukes center Lauren Jimenez hit a pair of free throws. And Evans, who missed her first 10 shots, hit a 3-pointer. And another. And another. They were the daggers in the 17-1 run that crushed W&M's upset bid and replaced it with a comfortable JMU victory. Jimenez, who blitzed the Tribe for 23 points and 11 rebounds on Jan. 6 in Williamsburg, torched them again Thursday with 21 points and 10 boards. Evans, the nation's leading scorer whose first field goal came at the 13:08 mark of the second half, wound up with 15 points and Courtney Hamner contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds. Pye had a game-high 22 points and Jaclyn McKenna added 16 for the Tribe.

George Mason 49, Drexel 47: One week ago, Drexel's Hollie Mershon nailed a prayer 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime against JMU. On Sunday, the Dragons' Kamile Nacickaite splashed a trey at the buzzer for a one-point win at William and Mary. Nacickaite was at it again Thursday, as she drilled a jumper to tie things at 47 with 22 seconds left. Problem was, she left too much time. Taleia Moton answered for the Patriots, knocking down a jumper of her own with 5 seconds left to snap Mason's four-game losing streak and deliver the Patriots' first victory over Drexel in 9 meetings. As the final score suggests, the Pats won this with defense as they limited the CAA's best long-distance shooting team to just 4 3-pointers - the Dragons average 8.2 per game, 5th in Division I - and 31.2 percent shooting overall. Mason also enjoyed a 37-29 rebounding advantage. Moton led the Patriots with 14 points, Brittany Poindexter added 12 and Amber Easter 11. Rahneeka Saunders (4 points) was the only other Patriot to score. But with their defense clamping down on the hard-to-guard Dragons, on this night four scorers were just enough. Moton made sure of it.

Other CAA results

UNC Wilmington 66, Delaware 47: Seahawks star Brittany Blackwell goes for 21 points (on 9-of-9 shooting) and 10 rebounds. Still no Elena Delle Donne for Delaware.

Hofstra 81, Towson 74: Shante Evans leads the Pride with 27 points and 13 rebounds.

Northeastern 72, Georgia State 48: Deanna Kerkhof scores 16 points to lead four players in double figures for the Huskies.

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