Monday, February 28, 2011

Who's that Lady Monarch?

Busy on Thursday night? Tune in to "Rules of Engagement" and see if you recognize Noelle Movement. That's the stage name of former Old Dominion Lady Monarch Nicole Bellinghausen, who you can also check out in the teaser for the show. That's 8:30 p.m. on CBS.

Radford stays in second in Big South; Liberty, Norfolk State fall

Monday's results:

Charleston Southern 54, Liberty 51:
Remember what you were doing Jan. 18, 1999? That's the last time the Buccaneers beat Liberty (66-60, climbing from 14 down), until this evening, that is. The Lady Flames (18-9, 12-2), who came in on a nine-game win streak, could have wrapped up the top seed in the Big South tournament, but the Buccaneers decided nobody beats us 29 straight times in a row. Three beats two anytime and Charleston Southern had 10 of those. The Bucs outrebounded Avery Warley by three (she had 21, not surprisingly, a career-high). Charleston Southern never trailed, but Liberty whittled it down to three before free throws sealed the deal. Liberty gets another shot at wrapping up the top seed on Friday, hosting UNC Asheville.

Coppin State 64, Norfolk State 50
The good vibes from Sunday's win over Morgan State didn't translate into any offense for the Spartans(9-17, 2-13), who bricked their way to a 28 percent shooting effort. Rae Corbo, the reigning MEAC Player of the Week, and Batavia Owens each pulled down 11 boards and NSU led by four at the break, but couldn't contain a hot shooting Eagles team in the second half, which shall we say, made some offensive adjustments at the break. First half, they shot 22 percent. Second half? 53 percent.

Radford 78, Presbyterian 71
Thirty points by Da'Naria Erwin Spencer keeps the Highlanders (13-14, 10-4) in second place in the Big South, a game in front of Gardner-Webb. These teams combined for 62 free throws, making us happy we weren't among the 207 in attendance.

Big South No. 1 Liberty looks to make it official

Monday's games

Liberty (18-8, 12-1 Big South) at Charleston Southern (12-14, 6-7 Big South), 7 p.m.
The Lady Flames have won 9 straight and can clinch the top seed in the Big South Tournament with a victory tonight. Given that they've won 28 straight against Charleston Southern, we fully expect the Lady Flames to have a lot to celebrate by game's end. By the way, we read a ton of game previews from the schools in this state, and each of the schools does a fine job. But game-in and game-out, no one put out a more comprehensive look-ahead -or postgame report, for that matter - than Liberty. Lady Flames updates are always loaded with interesting nuggets, like this one:

 "During its last seven games, Liberty has done a nice job of neutralizing its opponents' top scorer, including Winthrop's Dequesha McClanahan, Gardner-Webb's Monique Hudson, High Point's Shamia Brown, Radford's Da'Naria Erwin Spencer and Coastal Carolina's Sydnei Moss. Those players are averaging just 6.1 ppg versus the Lady Flames over the last seven contests, while shooting only 20.5 percent (16-of-78) from the field."

We love learning stuff like this. But we don't imagine Charleston Southern's Katie Tull (15.7 ppg) finds this entertaining reading at all. Liberty 59, Charleston Southern 49

Radford (12-14, 9-4 Big South) at Presbyterian (9-18, 5-9 Big South), 7 p.m.
Big South Coach of the Year? How 'bout Radford's Tajama Abraham Ngongba, who has guided the Highlanders to double their win total from a year ago and has them on track for a No. 2 seed in the Big South Tournament (Radford was picked to finish 6th in the preseason). Tonight's game is no gimme, though. Presbyterian has improved almost as much as Radford, and when these teams met last month at Radford, the Highlanders had to rally from a 13-point second-half deficit to squeeze out a 59-45 decision. Radford 56, Presbyterian 50

Coppin State (10-16, 7-7 MEAC) at Norfolk State (9-16, 2-12 MEAC), 6 p.m.
The Spartans have broken many losing streaks in this renaissance season for the program. So Saturday's 66-65 victory over Morgan State sets them up with a chance to slay yet another demon - NSU has not won consecutive MEAC games since opening the 2006-07 season with victories over Hampton and Maryland-Eastern Shore. A shorthanded Coppin State team beat NSU 64-55 in Baltimore on Jan. 31. But NSU has gone 6-4 at home this season. Norfolk State 67, Coppin State 64

JMU loss puts CAA top seed back in play

JMU's stunning 75-73 loss to Hofstra Sunday didn't just snap the Dukes' 13-game winning streak. It also smudged the Dukes' otherwise solid resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament should JMU fail to invite themselves by winning next week's CAA shindig. Losing by two on the road is hardly a disgrace, but Hofstra's RPI (146 according to is by far the worst of the teams that have beaten JMU this season. The other six teams with wins over the Dukes, ranging from Duke (RPI 3) to Monmouth (90), all have RPIs inside the Top 100. JMU's own RPI (40) is still well within the range of teams that will get serious at-large consideration. But the Hofstra loss won't help.

Finally, dropping that game to Hofstra puts the CAA regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament back in play with one game remaining. The Dukes can clear all this up Wednesday with a win at home against UNC Wilmington. But if JMU loses again, well.... With the help of Old Dominion sports info ace Dustin Semonavick - OK, "help" is way too flattering to us; we were clueless so he flat-out told us the deal - here are the potential scenarios and resulting seedings for JMU, ODU and UNCW:

- JMU defeats UNCW and Old Dominion wins at Drexel
1. JMU           16-2
2. ODU          15-3
3. UNCW      14-4

- JMU defeats UNCW; ODU loses at Drexel
1. JMU           16-2
2. ODU          14-4
3. UNCW      14-4
ODU wins tiebreaker with UNCW because the Lady Monarchs beat the Seahawks in the teams' lone regular-season meeting.

- JMU loses to UNCW; ODU wins at Drexel
1. ODU          15-3
2. UNCW      15-3
3. JMU           15-3
The Lady Monarchs would get the top spot because of their 2-1 record against the other two teams. UNCW would finish 1-1 against the others while JMU would be 1-2.

- JMU loses to UNCW; ODU loses at Drexel
1. UNCW      15-3
2. JMU          15-3
3. ODU         14-4 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Richmond gets No. 4 seed in A-10 Tournament

Richmond (18-10, 9-5), which received a first-round bye and the No. 4 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament,  will meet either No. 5 Charlotte (21-8, 9-5) or No. 12 UMass (7-22, 3-11) in a quarterfinal game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass.

Defending champion Xavier defeated Temple on Sunday and is looking to win its fourth A-10 title in the last five years. A win by the Spiders would likely pit them against the Musketeers (25-2, 14-0) in Sunday's noon semifinals.

Richmond defeated UMass 89-63 on Jan. 12 and lost to Charlotte 73-62 on Jan. 26. The Spiders were beaten by Xavier, ranked sixth nationally, 79-57, on Feb. 9

It's Tech vs. Tech; Virginia vs Wake in ACC tourney first round

Here we go -- the first of the tournament pairings. The ACC Tournament gets under way in Greensboro on Thursday. Virginia Tech (11-18, 1-13), seeded 12th, tips off the first round, meeting fifth seed Georgia Tech (21-9, 9-5) at 11 a.m. That's followed by No. 8 Virginia (16-14, 5-9) vs. No. 9 Wake Forest (14-16, 5-9) at 3 p.m., in another first round game.

The Yellow Jackets defeated Tech 78-57 at Cassell on Jan. 27. Virginia defeated the Demon Deacons 73-46 on Feb. 3 at John Paul Jones Arena.

Let's say both Virginia teams win. Then the Hokies would be pitted against No. 4 Maryland in an 11 a.m. quarterfinal on Friday, while Virginia would play defending champion Duke, the top seed at 3 p.m.

Hofstra stuns JMU; ODU defeats Delaware; VCU secures top four seed, and in the ACC, Virgina/Tech need OT

Sunday's results:

Hofstra 75, James Madison 73
As much as you want to give the Pride (17-11, 9-8 CAA) credit for pulling this one out on Senior Day in Long Island, it's hard not to say the word "collapse." The Dukes (22-7, 14-2) led by 23 in the second half and 62-49 with 10:41 to play, but the Pride scored the next 14. Dawn Evans drained her fourth 3 of the game to put the Dukes on top 71-70, but JMU didn't muster another point. Shante Evans tied it with 14 seconds left, and Candace Bond blocked a shot by Lauren Jimenez with 6 seconds on the clock. Racing down the court, Bond, an 80 percent free-throw shooter, was fouled by Tarik Hislop with 1.9 seconds left and converted both free throws for the Pride's second straight win over JMU. This one puts Hofstra alongside ODU as the two CAA teams to defeat a JMU team that appeared to be surging into next week's conference tournament. Evans scored all of her points in the second half; Hofstra alternated three guards on the senior, who went 0-for-10 in the first half. "We were geared up for them," said Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey, a former assistant to Kenny Brooks. "We've had a lot of tough ones that didn't fall our way, so this one is really sweet."

Virginia 73, Virginia Tech 71 OT 
Coming into this game, these teams had five ACC wins between them, so credit both teams with showing plenty of spunk for this instate rivalry. The teams traded leads throughout the second half and with 3 seconds left in regulation Shanel Harrison's jumper forced the extra period. Harrison had a chance to tie it with free throws with under a minute left, but only made 1 of 2. China Crosby's free throw added one more to Virginia's total and Harrison's final jumper was off the mark. Crosby's 15 led the Cavaliers (16-14, 5-9), whose tidy effort included a mere five turnovers. Eight 3s kept the Hokies (11-18, 1-13) in it, including three by Harrison.  Virginia is now 2-1 in OT games, with a loss to Maryland and a 4 OT defeat of NC State. ACC Tournament is next and Cavaliers need to win it to have any shot of being part of the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds in their own building.

Old Dominion 70, Delaware 61
Given how these teams like to keep things close, this time it was a virtual rout by the Lady Monarchs, whose seniors shined on Senior Day. Down 7 in the first half, senior Shadasia Green fueled the Lady Monarchs rally that put them up 34-30 at the break. ODU was up by 19 before Delaware closed to seven, and twice had possession to eek closer, but turned it over both times. Alena Voronina scored 15, Tia Lewis 12 with 11 rebounds, Jasmine Parker 12, Kquanise Byrd, 13 and Green, 9 with 6 boards. Know what keeps Wendy Larry up along with visions of Dawn Evans hitting halfcourt 3s? All of those players could be gone next year, as in addition to the four senior starters, Lewis is graduating and could opt not to return. Larry will worry about that later, as ODU looks to put itself in the best possible position to win the CAA crown for the first time in three years. Elena Delle Donne got hers with 22 points, as ODU assured itself a top three seed going into the CAA tournament.

VCU 62, William & Mary 56
Courtney Hurt's 21 points makes her single season total of  621 points the best in school history. "It's a great achievement to be in the record books," said the junior.  "But it's a real testament to my teammates for believing in my ability. This year I have had to step up and be a leader and they have trusted that I can knock down shots when they give me looks." VCU (17-10, 12-5) secured a first-round bye in next week's CAA tournament, but had trouble shaking off the Tribe, who pulled to within three behind a 16-5 run with 1:48 left. The Rams scored seven of the final nine points. W&M is 3-24, 2-15, but we still think they're dangerous. Jaclyn McKenna led all scorers with 24 points and Katherine DeHenzel had a career-best 10 assists.

UNC Wilmington 74, George Mason 56
Typical Seahawks, whose habit is to win big and win at Trask Coliseum, where they did not drop a conference game this season. The Patriots offered little resistance and trailed by double digits the entire second half. Four Seahawks finished in double figures, including sure-to-be CAA first-teamer Brittany Blackwell, who had 22. The Seahawks (22-6, 14-3) vaulted out to a 43-24 lead, sizzling at 63 percent from the field. The 22 wins ties a school record for most in the season, just one of the reasons why no CAA team wants Wilmington, tied for second with ODU, in its half of the tournament bracket.

Longwood 47, Savannah State 37
Neither team could reach 30 percent shooting, giving the Lancers an ugly win on Senior Day. These teams combined for 55 turnovers and 52 free throws. Did we mention the four technical fouls? One word. Yuck.

Virginia-Virginia Tech part II; JMU goes for 14th straight

Sunday's games

Delaware (16-11, 9-7 CAA) at Old Dominion (19-8, 13-3 CAA), 2 p.m.
Although the Blue Hens are 0-4 against the Lady Monarchs during the Elena Delle Donne era, the losses were by 1, 2, 1 (in overtime) and (this year) 3 points. But that's the way it has been for the Blue Hens against all the CAA heavyweights over the past two seasons. Last year, their 0-6 record against teams that finished in the top four of the CAA included three overtime defeats and all losses by 5 points or less. The streak reached 9 straight regular-season losses to CAA Top 4 teams until Thursday, when the Blue Hens thumped VCU 75-67. Does this mean Delaware has turned the close-game corner? If this game were in Newark, we'd be more inclined to buy that theory. Since it's in Norfolk, we suspect ODU will find a way to pay the proper Senior Day tribute to stalwarts Jasmine Parker, Russia Voronina, Shadasia Green and Kquanise Byrd. Especially after what happened on last year's Senior Day - ODU unraveled after Parker went out with injury, lost track of the score and held the ball instead of going for the win in the final seconds, then got blown out in overtime by Towson. The stunning finish sure put a damper on the post-game tributes to Jessica Canady and Vicki Collier. The majority of the current Lady Monarchs surely remember that feeling, so we can't imagine ODU going out like that this time. Still, it's worth noting that this year, the Senior Day festivities will commence before the game.  ODU 64, Delaware 61

Virginia (15-14, 4-9 ACC) at Virginia Tech (11-17, 1-12 ACC), 1 p.m.
We suspect Hokie fans are still picking confetti out of their hair after Saturday night's pulsating, NCAA Tournament-salvaging men's basketball victory over mighty Duke at Cassell. But their women's team will sober the fans up real quick if they turn in another performance like the one they produced the last time they met U.Va., a 72-37 no-show on Jan. 23 that may have represented the low point in Tech's highly disappointing season. Exactly one week ago, these Hokies also lost at Duke by 50. But they gave a pretty good account of themselves Thursday at Maryland and are capable of a much greater showing than they turned in last month in Charlottesville. They'd better, as their performance will be aired throughout ACC Country via Comcast Sportsnet. (check local listings). It will also be the final home game for Tech seniors Brittany Gordon, Nikki Davis and Elizabeth Basham. Virginia 61, Virginia Tech 51

James Madison (22-6, 14-1 CAA) at Hofstra (16-11, 8-8 CAA), 2 p.m.
We realized the Dukes were playing well, but we were blown away by how they went on the road Thursday and hung 93 points on Georgia State and won by 48. While our sense is that Hofstra is a better team than Georgia State, the Panthers beat Hofstra by 14 points when the teams met in Atlanta last month. Then again, we're not sure any of that matters. Not only have the Dukes won 13 straight, but they also appear to be operating at near-peak efficiency just when the games are starting to matter the most. We don't expect JMU to shoot the ball as well as they did against Georgia State again today - Kobe Bryant can't count on shooting the ball that well. But if the Dukes can even approach that level today, with the way Hofstra likes to push tempo, they may hit triple digits. JMU 89, Hofstra 79 

William and Mary (3-23, 2-14 CAA) at VCU (16-10, 11-5 CAA), 2 p.m.
The Rams are still in command of the No. 4 seed and first-round bye in the CAA Tournament but still need one win or a Delaware loss to clinch it. The Blue Hens kept themselves alive by handling VCU 75-67 on Thursday, a game in which Rams star Courtney Hurt made just 4 of 18 field goals. Delaware coach Tina Martin credited her guards for pestering Hurt when she got the ball in the high post, so it'll be interesting to see if this is some sort of blueprint for defending Hurt. Then again, given the way the Rams junior has dominated all season, the more likely scenario is Hurt simply had an off night and should be back to her usual self today. We really like the way the Tribe has played of late and see them as a dangerous out in the CAA Tournament. But the Rams are at home, really need this one and have Hurt due for a bounce-back. Sounds like a recipe for success to us. VCU 73, William and Mary 65

George Mason (12-15, 6-10 CAA) at UNC Wilmington (21-6, 13-3 CAA), 2 p.m.
Tough assignment for a Patriots team that has had its struggles on the road against a Seahawks club that has gone 11-1 at home and has won 10 straight at Trask Coliseum. And when UNCW wins, it tends to win big - its last four victories are by 19, 15, 25 and 24 points, and 10 of their 13 conference wins have come by at least 14 points. This includes a 67-51 win at George Mason on Jan. 13. UNCW 66, George Mason 52

Savannah State (14-10) at Longwood (6-20), 2 p.m.
It's payback time for the Lancers, who somehow managed just 34 points in a 26-point loss to this team two weeks ago in Savannah. Can't imagine Longwood won't be much more competitive today. In fact, at home we're just going to flat-out say it - this is a team they should beat. Prior to the game, the Lancers will honor their lone senior, guard Krystal Garrison. Longwood 55, Savannah State 49

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Norfolk State, Hampton, Radford, Richmond, Liberty (phew!); everybody's a winner

It was a day when everybody's a winner and we like those days at LadySwish.

Saturday's results:

Norfolk State 66, Morgan State 65
We of little faith picked the Bears (15-11, 9-5) and are glad to be proven wrong by the Spartans, who broke a month-long losing streak. Sarah Daily's jumper with nine seconds left was the gamewinner in a contest that entertained folks with 12 lead changes and three ties. Mahala Thomas, who already had 25, could have won it on a final shot, but it didn't fall and celebration NSU ensued. It was a balanced effort by the Spartans, with nine of 10 players getting into the scoring column led by Rae Corbo's 20. The Bears had won seven straight in this series and had plenty to play for as the MEAC's second-place team, so all credit goes to the Spartans (9-16, 2-12) for the feel-good victory.

Richmond 68, St. Louis 57
Brittani Shells is now the second leading scorer in Spiders history and has 2,006 points for her career with 17 of those coming in this one. (Spider man Kevin Anderson also joined the 2,000-point club on Saturday, scoring 20 in a victory over Charlotte.) Shells also became the school's all-time leading steals leader, having passed Jackie Israel, with two today. What was becoming a rout didn't exactly unravel into a nailbiter when St. Louis used a 10-0 run to cut it to 13 in the second half, but the rally was halted there. It's unfortunate that only 545 showed up for Senior Day, and speaking of those seniors, Crystal Goring had eight with 5 rebounds and Kara Powell scored four. SLU shot just 18 percent in the first half; Richmond ends the regular season at 18-10, 9-5 in the A-10, giving the Spiders a five-way for third.

Radford 81, Charleston Southern 78 OT
The Highlanders had a three-point advantage with 7.1 seconds left when Helen Terry stole the inbounds pass and dished off to Anicia Dotson, who picked up the assist when Kelsey Wasmer swished in a triple to force OT. Radford trailed by six 3:10 into the extra period but rallied behind Breshara Gordon and Kahealani Vick, who sealed it with free throws. The line is where the Highlanders (12-14, 9-4 Big South) made their money despite a ragged effort (23-of-41); Charleston Southern earned just six points there. The win coupled with Gardner-Webb's 73-65 loss to Presbyterian puts Radford in second place, for now at least. The Highlanders and Bulldogs play in North Carolina on March 6 (Highlanders won 57-50 on Jan. 8.)

Liberty 64, Coastal Carolina 44
The Lady Flames (18-8, 12-1) survived nine 3s from the Chanticleers to win their ninth straight. Liberty, which clinched a share of the Big South regular season title, limited Coastal Carolina to 28 percent shooting and won for the 15th straight time in Kimbel Arena, which will no longer be after this season. Liberty has held nine straight opponents below 60 points.

Hampton 77, Delaware State 64
Maybe it's just us, but we'd like to see Jericka Jenkins have a seat on occasion given the Pirates have wrapped up the MEAC already. But David Six sees it differently and he knows better than us. Jenkins played 40 minutes and scored 13 with 9 assists as Hampton (21-6, 14-1) cruised to its ninth straight win. Nice effort for Keiara Avant, who came off the bench for 15 points and seven rebounds.

"Don't waste your cancer" or your life

Almost all of the time, LadySwish is a place to expound on women's basketball, its statistics, its characters, its quirkiness. Today I deviate a bit, a good bit, frankly. A blog is a wonderful place to share ideas that swirl around in your head, and without this forum, those thoughts wouldn't make it to paper - or to cyberspace.

I have met a woman who has endured cancer for the last seven months. Rarely do you meet people outside of your familiar circle who make a profound impact on your life. Libby Ryder has. I don't know if you have ever peeked at her blog titled "Don't waste your cancer." It's an amazing work of inspiration.

My father died of pancreatic cancer on July 3, 1997. I loved my father in a way that is hard for even me, a writer, to express in words. He would have made this incredible grandfather, but I never let myself go there. In November 1996, I was pregnant with my first child. My father got his initial symptoms the next week. By early December, we learned what it was. Pancreatic cancer - tumor, malignant were the words the doctor used. The first time my father heard them he said, "Guess that's how the ballgame ends."

No one expected him to live until the summer. He died 11 days prior to my son's birth. Harry is his namesake. How fun it would be if my dad could see Harry try out for high school baseball this week. Life didn't work that way.

Years ago I spoke with Debbie Ryan about pancreatic cancer. We hear about survivors with breast cancer so often. Not so with pancreatic cancer. The Virginia coach survived and is completely healthy today. As good as her doctors were, as early as they caught it, as much as she prayed,  I remember her saying just how lucky she was. She knew you can pray and pray and pray, but test results inside of an envelope often come back counter to that prayer.

It is hard to be bitter when you have a beautiful newborn that it seems, magically appears out of your body. I know how science and babies work. Looking at my son for the first time, I was blown away by the awe of something that had to be bigger than what the medical textbooks teach. But admittedly, I carried a heavy heart. My father never knew about my baby boy, never saw his face, though I like to think they passed in the heavens. I think of my dad as Harry's personal angel.

Libby got cancer at 26, shortly after her stunningly beautiful baby girl, Ava, was born. The 12 rounds of chemo she has endured have been brutal, each one more so than the last. I talked with her in September and I talked with her last week. The PET scan shows her cancer free. Her blog readers, 5,000 a day on average, know this because they've followed her story since the initial diagnosis. What is remarkable about Libby to me is the unwavering way her faith has carried her through what has to be the most difficult time of her life. At a time when most would question, she hasn't. At a time when many might abandon their faith, hers has become stronger. She handles life and the incredible obstacles you never see coming, in a manner that truly inspires me and leaves me in a similar awe that I had when both of my boys were born. She has found a peace with life - and death - that most of us crave. I didn't have that when my son was born. I don't know that I have it now. But I am a step closer thanks to Libby, whose way of leading her life the last several months is something I hope to emulate one day.

Senior Day at Richmond; Liberty, Hampton look to continue win streaks

Saturday's previews:

Saint Louis (7-21, 1-12 Atlantic 10) at Richmond (17-10, 8-5), 2 p.m.
This should be a pretty emotional day at the Robins Center, given it is senior day for Brittani Shells, Crystal Goring, Kara Powell and Rebecca Kretchman. The four will be honored at 1:45. Shells, the program’s second-leading scorer, is just 11 points shy of the 2,000-point milestone. She would be the second-ever Spider to record 2,000 points. (All-time leading scorer Karen Elsner has 2,367 points.) Shells (remember how the conference picked her preseason second team?) is just two steals away from becoming Richmond’s all-time steals leader. Shells and Spider man (we like the sound of that) are both at 1,989 career points and could become the first pair from the same team to eclipse the 2,000-point mark on the same day. (The Spider men are at Charlotte.)  Goring is averaging a near double-double at 10.4 ppg and 9.0 rpg. Goring’s 9.0 rpg is third in the A-10. Goring has 11 career double-doubles, six of which have come this season. Powell, a redshirt senior, has played in 121 games in her career, making 118 starts. Powell has amassed 306 assists in her five years, good for 10th all-time. Kretchman played two years for the Spiders before having to be disqualifed due to an injury.As if all this isn't enough, it's Richmond's pink zone game in support of breast cancer. As for the actual game, St. Louis is 1-9 in its last 10 games and isn't likely to interfere with the Spider fanfare today. Richmond 79, St. Louis 57

Liberty (17-8, 11-1 Big South) at Coastal Carolina (9-16, 3-10), 2 p.m.
Kimbel Arena has been a home away from home for the Lady Flames, who have won 14 straight there, a streak that ends after today's game because the Chanticleers are getting a new arena for next season. The streak over Coastal is even more impressive; Liberty has won 44 straight in this series, the seventh active winning streak over a single opponent in Division I. A win today is just gravy, as Liberty has clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big South tournament. Earlier this season the Chanticleers drained eight 3s against Liberty, which prevailed 58-54. Liberty 63, Coastal Carolina 55

Radford (11-14, 8-4 Big South) at Charleston Southern (12-13, 6-6), 2 p.m.
Once upon a time, the Highlanders were on top of this conference, but are now looking to stay in third. A win over Winthrop in their last game snapped a three-game skid. They have lost three straight to the Bucs at Charleston Southern, which is 8-1 at home this season. A Highlander win coupled by a Gardner-Webb loss (the Bulldogs play Presbyterian) would lead to a tie for second between the two schools, who meet March 4.  The Chanticleers boast two of the Big South conference’s top three scorers this season. Katie Tull is currently first in the Big South in scoring with 15.4 ppg, and Kelsey Wasmer is not far behind, averaging 13.9 ppg. Tull also ranks third nationally in three-pointers made. Charleston-Southern 63, Radford 59
Morgan State (15-10, 9-4 MEAC) at Norfolk State (8-16, 1-12), 4 p.m.
NSU almost picked up what would have been a confidence-building road win when the teams met in Baltimore this season, but fell 64-60. The Bears have won seven straight in the series and are holding onto the second spot in the conference race behind Hampton. Meanwhile, the Spartans have sputtered as the season winds down, particularly on the offensive end, where they average 58.5 ppg. The Spartans haven't won since Jan. 24, which makes it hard to pick them today. Morgan State 67, Norfolk State 53

Hampton (20-6, 13-1 MEAC) at Delaware State (9-17, 5-9), 5 p.m.
If you're counting, and we are, the Pirates have won nine straight and have already clinched the top seed for the MEAC tournament. (ESPN's Charlie Creme has the Pirates a projected 15 seed in the NCAA tournament and pits them against Duke, which just doesn't seem right for a team that started this impressive season with a win at James Madison.) Hampton, winners of five straight in this series, doesn't need a victory here, but we're banking on them getting it. Hampton 69, Delaware State 49

Thursday, February 24, 2011

JMU wins BIG; ODU survives scare; VCU falls to Delaware

Thursday's results:

Old Dominion 70, William and Mary 65: Nothing easy about this one for the Lady Monarchs, who survived some anxious moments before putting the Tribe away for the 52nd straight time. Consider that W&M rallied back to lead this game 66-65 behind a Taysha Pye jumper. Jo Guilford answered with her own jumper, got a steal and blocked a shot on the Tribe's next two possessions. (We told you it was her turn.). In addition to Guilford's heroics, Jasmine Parker scored 16 with 6 assists; Alena Voronina had 10 and Shadasia Green just four but with 12 boards. Parker closed things out with a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left.

Hofstra 77, George Mason 69: Pride star Shante Evans led the way with 19 points and...23 rebounds? Who does she think she is, Courtney Hurt? It was all a bit too much for the Patriots, who led by a point at halftime and hung around throughout but couldn't keep Hofstra from cleaning the glass (22 offensive boards, 23 second-chance points) or from getting to the free throw line (21 of 27). Taleia Moton delivered for Mason with 23 points, and a special tip of the cap to Patriots freshman Christine Weithman, who finished with a season-high 9 points on 3-of-5 shooting in 16 productive minutes.

James Madison 93, Georgia State 45: Conference leader JMU hit 13 of its first 18 shots in the opening 10 minutes in building a 29-11 lead. The 93 points is a season high; Dawn Evans provided 26 of those with seven assists for the Dukes (22-6, 15-1 CAA), winners of 13 in a row. JMU put together an even more daunting second half, outdoing the Panthers 44-18 and shooting 51 percent for the game.

Delaware 75, VCU 67: Star power, indeed. Elena Delle Donne did her part with 31 points and nailing 11 consescutive free throws. While Courtney Hurt had a quiet 16 and 11 boards (another double-double, yawn, yawn), Andrea Barbour bagged 28. The Blue Hens dominated the free-throw line (21-of-25) and continued to show why they're a juggernaut for the upcoming CAA tournament. This is the first win for Delaware over the Rams since 2007-08.

Duke 71, Virginia 48: As is their reputation of late, the Cavaliers got themselves into an early hole and couldn't dig out. That's no wonder considering they shot 20 percent against the best team in the ACC. Another painful number: Virginia's starters combined for 20 points, two more than Jasmine Thomas.  Duke killed the Cavs on the boards (Krystal Thomas had 16 all by herself), and we have to think the crowd that exceeded 3,400 was pretty disappointed by this dud.

Maryland 61, Virginia Tech 48: The Hokies (11-17, 1-12 ACC) can hardly find joy in moral victories, but we tip our hat to a pretty good effort. This game was tied with 12 minutes left before Alyssa Thomas and Lauren Mincy fueled a 21-7 run. Brittany Gordon had 11 points and 10 boards for the Hokies, who have one ACC test left and it's the Cavaliers in Cassell.

JMU looks for 13th straight win; UVa hosts mighty Duke

Thursday's games

William and Mary (3-22, 2-13) at Old Dominion (18-8, 12-3 CAA), 7 p.m.
The record doesn't show it, but the Tribe seems to have figured out who they are and are causing teams fits of late. This isn't a prediction, but don't be surprised if these guys win their first-round game in the CAA Tournament. We're much more pessimistic about their chances tonight, as ODU has won 51 straight in this series including a 13-point decision last month in Williamsburg and can tie Stanford's mastery over Washington State for longest current streak in Division I with another win tonight. Key matchup - William and Mary has made 25 3-pointers in its last 3 games (Katherine DeHenzel is 8-for-10 from long range in this span) while ODU ranks 5th in Division I in 3-point field goal defense (25 percent). By the way, six different Lady Monarchs have led the team in scoring over their last seven games, with Shadasia Green being the only one to pace the team twice over that span. So tonight, Jo Guilford, it's your turn. ODU 73, William and Mary 58

James Madison (21-6, 14-1 CAA) at Georgia State (10-15, 5-9), 7 p.m.
The first leg of a high-mileage two-game road trip for the Dukes, who will also visit Hofstra Sunday. JMU's 12-game winning streak includes a 62-55 victory over the Panthers in Harrisonburg on Feb. 3. The Panthers seemed to discover something in the second half of that game as they closed in on JMU, then returned home to win their next three. This is their first home game since that streak, so the Dukes had better take the court expecting to face an even tougher, more comfortable foe than the one they beat three weeks ago. JMU 68, Georgia State 59

Virginia Commonwealth (16-9, 11-4 CAA) at Delaware (15-11, 8-7 CAA), 7 p.m.
The Rams need just one win over their next three games to clinch at least the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament. We call this the star-watch game as both teams will have big-time talents on display. VCU star Courtney Hurt comes in having won her fifth CAA Player of the Week award this season, while guard Andrea Barbour is averaging 19.4 ppg with four 20-point games over her last eight contests. The Blue Hens counter with Elena Delle Donne, whose 24.4 ppg scoring average would lead Division I if she hadn't missed so much time with injury. VCU 70, Delaware 65

George Mason (12-14, 6-9 CAA) at Hofstra (15-11, 7-8 CAA), 2 p.m.
Frankly, we swing and miss more on these Patriots than any other CAA team. When we think they're going to play well, they tend to struggle. And when we go the other way, they often rise up and smack someone down.   This game features a contrast in styles pitting a Mason team that wants to shut people down against a Hofstra squad that wants to light folks up. Who's going to win? Beats us. So we're simply going to pick against the Patriots on the theory that odds are, they'll just go out and prove us wrong again. Hofstra 75, George Mason 70

Duke (24-3, 10-2 ACC) at Virginia (15-13, 4-8 ACC), 7 p.m.
It's Senior Night for the Cavaliers, who will honor Jayna Hartig and Paulisha Kellum prior to the game. Ideally, you'd prefer to host a much more beatable opponent on Senior Night. Then again, what could be a more memorable way for Hartig and Kellum to leave John Paul Jones Arena than in triumph over a team that has beaten U.Va. 17 straight times? Duke can be vulnerable on offense - although you couldn't tell that Sunday against Virginia Tech - so a committed Cavaliers defensive effort could keep them in it. But can Virginia score enough points? On this night, we expect Kellum in particular will have a lot to say about whether or not they can. Duke 61, Virginia 58

Virginia Tech (11-16, 1-11 ACC) at Maryland (21-6, 7-5 ACC), 7:30 p.m.
The final road game of a difficult season for the Hokies, who are just 2-7 in road games this season and are coming off Sunday's 90-40 pummeling by a Duke team Maryland just beat last week. Obviously a bleak outlook for the Hokies tonight, but we'd love to see them at least keep this competitive. Maryland 70, Virginia Tech 52

Richmond's Shells, Anderson: 11 is their magic number

Brittani Shells
Kevin Anderson
Richmond senior guard Brittani Shells and Spiders senior Kevin Anderson each have 1,989 career points entering their respective games on Saturday.

The Spider women's team (17-10, 8-5 Atlantic 10) hosts Saint Louis on Saturday at 2 p.m. and the Richmond men's team (21-7, 10-3 Atlantic 10) plays at Charlotte on Saturday at 7 p.m.

This would be the first time in college basketball history that a men's and women's player from the same school scored 2,000 career points on the same day. Shells ranks second on the Richmond women's basketball all-time scoring list and Anderson ranks third on the Richmond men's all-time scoring

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Richmond hangs on at LaSalle, keeps pace in A-10 race

Wednesday's games

Richmond 69, LaSalle 65: Now that was close. Didn't look like it was going to be, as the Spiders shot 58 percent in the opening 20 minutes, made 8 of their first 13 3-pointers and rolled up a 16-point lead early in the second half. From there, however, Richmond lost its shooting touch in a big way, making just three field goals over the final 16:50 and none in the final 7:09. The Explorers couldn't quite make it all the way back, though, and missed their last chance to tie when Ebonee Jones, a 68-percent free throw shooter, missed both from the line with LaSalle down 67-65 with 14 seconds to go. Abby Oliver led Richmond with 20 points, Brittani Shells added 15 and Crystal Goring double-doubled (11 and 11) as the Spiders (17-10, 8-5) exceeded last year's A-10 record (7-7). If Richmond can win its season finale at home Saturday against Saint Louis, there's a chance the Spiders could wind up tied for the third-best record in the conference. We're not yet sure how it will all shake out in terms of seeding for the A-10 tournament. But the stage is set for a wild final weekend, culminating in a nationally televised de facto regular-season championship game between conference unbeatens Xavier and Temple on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Atlantic 10 standings (with one game remaining)
Xavier                        24-2    13-0
Temple                       22-6    13-0
Charlotte                    21-7     9-4
Duquesne                   21-7     8-5
St. Bonaventure          18-10   8-5
Dayton                       17-10   8-5
Richmond                  17-10   8-5
St. Joseph's                17-10   7-6
LaSalle                        9-19    5-8
Fordham                    12-17   4-9
George Washington     8-19   3-10
UMass                       7-21    3-10
Rhode Island              7-20    1-12
Saint Louis                 7-21    1-12

Remaining A-10 schedule
Saint Louis at Richmond, 2 p.m.
Charlotte at St. Bonaventure, 2 p.m. (CBS College Sports)
Fordham at Dayton, 2 p.m.
LaSalle at UMass, 2 p.m.
Rhode Island at Duquesne, 2 p.m.
Saint Joseph's at George Washington, noon (CBS College Sports)
Xavier at Temple, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)

In Wednesday's other game:

Gardner-Webb 68, Longwood 50: The Running' Bulldogs feasted on Lancer mistakes, scoring 31 points off 25 Longwood turnovers to complete a two-game, home-and-home sweep of Longwood. Brittanni Billups led Longwood (6-20) with 19 points and Bria White added 13, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Lancers from falling to 1-13 in road games this season. The good news: Longwood's next game, Sunday against Savannah State, is at home.

Richmond, Longwood hit the road

Despite being one of five teams tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10, Richmond appears to be a real longshot to nab that 4th seed and first-round bye in the A-10 tournament. But of course, any positive scenario starts with the Spiders winning in Philadelphia tonight.

Wednesday's games

Richmond (16-10, 7-5 Atlantic 10) at LaSalle (9-18, 5-7 Atlantic 10), 7 p.m.
Potentially dangerous road game for the Spiders as the Explorers have been a dangerous team in their own building all season. LaSalle is 8-3 at Gola Arena and 5-1 in A-10 play. Some of that success is schedule - the Explorers have hosted George Washington, Rhode Island, Fordham and Saint Louis. But there were no asterisks attached to last week's 85-84 victory over third-place Charlotte, a team that had won 9 straight road games going in. The Explorers simply make more shots when they're at home - they've yet to score more than 64 points in any road game but have exceeded that total in 8 of their 11 home games with four games in the 80s. Fortunately for the Spiders, the Explorers also tend to give up points by the bushel (74 ppg allowed, last in the A-10). So while Richmond will likely need to score a lot to win this one, they shouldn't have trouble finding good looks. Richmond 78, LaSalle 69

Longwood (6-19) at Gardner-Webb (17-9), 7 p.m.
Gardner-Webb prevailed 68-58 when these teams met on Dec. 5 at Longwood, and the Lancers are just 1-12 in road games this season. The Runnin' Bulldogs have won three straight since a 56-51 loss at Liberty on Feb. 12. Gardner-Webb played that game and the three since without leading rebounder Sierra Little (9.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg), the Old Dominion transfer who has appeared in 12 games since becoming eligible at G-W after the first semester. Gardner-Webb assistant coach Krystal Reeves-Evans told the Lynchburg News and Advance that Little was out because of "personal issues."  Gardner-Webb 68, Longwood 60

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Silent Majority rankings #16 (Feb. 22)

1. Xavier (23-2, 12-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 1
Streak: Won 13 straight. Status: Tied with Temple atop A-10. 
We thought the Musketeers might be challenged Saturday against Duquesne. Instead, they rolled 77-51 in what forward Amber Harris called one of the team's best performances of the season. Temple doesn't figure to be put away so convincingly...although we thought the same thing about Duquesne. On deck: Wednesday vs. George Washington (8-18, 3-9); Saturday at Temple (21-6, 12-0).  

2. Marist (25-2, 16-0 MAAC)
Last week: 2
Streak: Won 21 straight. Status: Clinched top seed in MAAC Tournament 
Baylor's loss at Texas Tech on Saturday left Marist with Division I's longest winning streak, and the Red Foxes punctuated the achievement Monday by crushing St. Peter's 79-38. Marist is now  two wins away from one of its stated goals - an 18-0 conference season. On deck: Friday at Siena (12-14, 10-6); Sunday vs. Fairfield (17-10, 10-6). 

3. Green Bay (25-1, 14-0 Horizon)
Last week: 3
Streak: Won 16 straight. Status: Clinched a share of their 13th straight Horizon League regular-season title.
Green Bay has the second-best overall record in Division I; only UConn's 26-1 mark is a tick better. No other team has fewer than two losses. On deck: Thursday vs. Valparaiso (7-20, 4-11); Saturday vs. Butler (17-10, 11-4). 

4. Temple (21-6, 12-0 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 4
Streak: Won 14 straight. Status: Tied with Xavier atop A-10.
We tend to think of the Owls as a defense-first team, so it's worth noting that Temple has scored at least 76 points in five of its last eight games and 82 or more three times during that span. This stretch also includes Wednesday's 89-36 pummeling of George Washington - the second-largest margin of victory in the history of program. Looks like they're ready for Saturday's showdown with Xavier, although they can't overlook Wednesday's Big Five title game at St. Joseph's. On deck: Wednesday at St. Joseph's (17-9, 7-5); Saturday vs. Xavier (25-2, 12-0). 

5. Gonzaga (24-4, 12-0 WCC)
Last week: 5
Streak: Won 14 straight. Status: Clinched 7th straight WCC regular-season title.
Point guard Courtney Vandersloot, a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award for the nation's top point guard - and the clear favorite - collected her 12th career WCC Player of the Week award after averaging 26 points and 11.5 assists in two games last week. On deck: Thursday vs. St. Mary's (9-17, 5-7); Saturday vs. San Diego (14-12, 4-8).  

6. Houston (22-4, 13-0 Conference USA)
Last week: 6
Streak: Won a school record-tying 13 straight. Status: Clinched C-USA regular-season title
Courtney Taylor racked up her 17th double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday's 77-61 victory over UTEP. Only three Division I players - VCU's Courtney Hurt (21), Alabama's Tierney Jenkins (18) and Morehead State's Ashar Harris (18) - have more double-doubles than Taylor. On deck: Thursday at Marshall (8-18, 4-9); Sunday at Rice (17-10, 9-4). 

7. Louisiana Tech (22-5, 12-0 WAC)
Last week: 7
Streak: Won 13 straight. Status: Two-game lead over Fresno State atop WAC.
San Jose State apparently believes in moral victories, or at least their sports information staff does as evidenced by this headline on the school's official site after the Spartans' 62-53 loss to Louisiana State Saturday. On deck: Saturday at Utah State (14-11, 8-4); Monday at Nevada (19-7, 8-5).

8. James Madison (21-6, 14-1 CAA)
Last week: 9
Streak: Won 12 straight. Status: Two-game lead over UNCW and ODU atop CAA.
With an RPI of 39, the Dukes are methodically building a solid NCAA at-large case should JMU fail to win the CAA Tournament, which this year will be held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md. It's the first time the league tournament will be played in a neutral site in a non-CAA city. On deck: Thursday at Georgia State (10-16, 5-10); Sunday at Hofstra (15-11, 7-8).

9: BYU (19-7, 11-1 Mountain West)
Last week: 16
Streak: Won 8 straight. Status: 2 1/2 game lead over TCU atop WAC
Freshman guard Kim Parker earned WAC Player of the Week honors after scoring 14 points to lead the Cougars past TCU 70-60 that solidified BYU's grip on the WAC lead. In addition to playing some lights-out hoops, the Cougars are rallying around sophomore forward Alexis Kaufusi, who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and will miss the remainder of the season. On deck: Wednesday at Colorado State (12-13, 5-7); Saturday vs. San Diego State (12-13, 6-7). 

10. Hampton (20-6, 13-1 MEAC)
Last week: 18
Streak: Won 9 straight. Status: Clinched top seed in MEAC Tournament.
Monday's 88-49 rout of Florida A&M was fairly typical of the way the Lady Pirates have punished MEAC foes. But it's not just that. Four of Hampton's losses came when star point guard Jericka Jenkins sat out with injury. With a (relatively) healthy Jenkins the Lady Pirates are 19-2 with non-conference wins at JMU and against Florida. And one of the losses came when Hampton inexplicably fell asleep with a 17-point second-half lead at Bethune-Cookman and failed to wake up in time. So no, they're not perfect. But the Lady Pirates are better than a lot of folks realize. On deck: Saturday at Delaware State (9-17, 5-9)

11. Northern Iowa (21-5, 14-1 Missouri Valley)
Last week: 19
Streak: Won 13 straight. Status: Two-game lead over Creighton atop MVC
It's hard to be more dominant than the Panthers were last week in posting a 68-41 win at Southern Illinois followed by a 69-33 rout at Evansville. The 21 victories gives UNI its most victories since becoming a Division I team in 1982. On deck: Friday at Bradley (12-13, 6-9).

12. Princeton (19-4, 8-1 Ivy)
Last week: 10
Streak: Won 5 straight. Status: One game lead over Harvard atop Ivy.
The Tigers continue to get contributions across the board - five players scored in double figures in a 16-point victory over Yale, and four scored in double digits Saturday as Princeton poured it on in the second half and routed Brown 75-38. On deck: Friday at Cornell (5-19, 2-8); Saturday at Columbia (5-19, 4-6). 

13. Arkansas-Little Rock (18-6, 12-1 Sun Belt)
Last week: 20
Streak: Won one. Status: Clinched Sun Belt West Division title.
Stumbled at home Wednesday against Western Kentucky for their first loss in 15 games, but made it for that setback - and then some - by rallying past Middle Tennessee State 69-61 in a battle of Sun Belt titans. On deck: Wednesday at South Alabama (15-11, 7-7); Saturday at Arkansas State (14-13, 7-7). 

14. Middle Tennessee State (22-6, 13-2 Sun Belt)
Last week: 8
Streak:Lost one. Status: Clinched Sun Belt East Division title.
The Blue Raiders led by four at halftime but couldn't hang on in Sunday's 69-61 loss to UALR. Should be one heck of a rematch if both teams can advance to the Sun Belt Tournament final. On deck: Sunday vs. Western Kentucky (12-14, 9-5). 

15. Fresno State (19-7, 10-2 WAC)
Last week: 14
Streak: Won 4 straight. Status: 2nd place in WAC, 2 games behind Louisiana Tech
With Monday's 65-55 victory at New Mexico State, Fresno State seniors Jaleesa Ross, Hayley Munro, Taja Edwards, Emma Andrews and Marnique Arnold have been involved in 91 wins, the most by any class in Bulldogs history. On deck: Thursday at Boise State (11-14, 2-9); Monday at New Mexico State (10-13, 4-5).

16. Florida Gulf Coast (22-2, 15-2 Atlantic Sun)
Last week: 15
Streak: Won 2 straight. Status: 2-game lead over East Tennessee State atop A-Sun.
The Eagles' 64-59 victory over Stetson on Monday gave FGCU its 36th straight victory at Alico Arena - Division I's third-longest home winning streak - and moved the team to within one victory or one East Tennessee State loss from clinching the A-Sun regular-season title. On deck: Thursday vs. Jacksonville (13-14, 8-10); Saturday vs. North Florida (13-14, 11-7). 

17. Old Dominion (18-8, 12-3 CAA)
Last week: 13
Streak: Won one. Status: Tied with UNCW in 2nd place in CAA, 2 games behind JMU.
The Lady Monarchs turned in a real stinker in a 20-point loss at revved-up VCU, but used a Kquanise Byrd layup with 3 seconds left to nip Hofstra 79-77 and return from a tough road trip with a 1-1 mark. On deck: Thursday vs. William and Mary (3-22, 2-13); Sunday vs. Delaware (15-11, 8-7).

18. Charlotte (21-6, 9-3 Atlantic 10)
Last week: 10
Streak: Won one. Status: 3rd place in Atlantic 10.
Not sure what happened to the 49ers last Wednesday in their 85-84 loss at LaSalle as typically stingy Charlotte gave up a season-high in points. But they got back on track Saturday with a 70-53 Senior Night victory over Saint Louis and are well-positioned to earn a first-round bye in what should be a rugged Atlantic 10 tournament. Neither of their final two games are gimmes, though, and if they happen to stumble in both, that LaSalle loss may come back to haunt them. On deck: Wednesday vs. Duquesne (20-7, 7-5); Saturday at St. Bonaventure (17-10, 7-5). 

19. Toledo (20-6, 12-1 MAC)
Last week: 21
Streak: Won eight straight. Status: Clinched share of MAC West Division title
Saturday's 67-49 victory at Ball State gave the Rockets their first win in seven visits to BSU's Worthen Arena and allowed Toledo to maintain a two-game edge over Bowling Green for the best record in the MAC. On deck: Wednesday vs. Eastern Michigan (18-9, 9-4); Saturday at Northern Illinois (11-15, 5-8). 

20. Bowling Green (22-4, 10-3 MAC)
Last week: 22
Streak: Won 5 straight. Status: 1-game lead over Kent State in MAC East Division.
Tracy Pontius earned MAC Co-Player of the Week honors, along with Kent State's Taisja Jones, after averaging 23 points and hitting 9 3-pointers in victories over Ohio and Miami. The Falcons are 5-0 in February games this season and 48-3 in the second month of the year since the 2004-05 season. On deck: Tuesday at Akron (13-12, 6-7); Saturday vs. Kent State (18-7, 9-4).  

21. UNC Wilmington (20-6, 12-3 CAA)
Last week: 25
Streak: Won 2 straight. Status: Tied with ODU in 2nd place in CAA, 2 games behind JMU. 
Talk about turnarounds - the Seahawks have won 20 games for the first time since 2002-03 and will have a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament for the first time since the league expanded to its current 12-team format in 2005-06. On deck: Thursday at Towson (9-17, 3-12); Sunday vs. George Mason. (12-14, 6-9).

And finally, since it's nearly impossible to sort out the jumble of teams in the middle of the Atlantic 10:

22 (tie). Duquesne (20-7, 7-5 Atlantic 10)

22 (tie). St. Joseph's (17-9, 7-5 Atlantic 10)

22 (tie). St. Bonaventure (17-10, 7-5 Atlantic 10)

22 (tie). Dayton (16-10, 7-5 Atlantic 10)

22 (tie) Richmond (16-10, 7-5 Atlantic 10)

One of these teams will nab a No. 4 seed and earn a first-round by in the A-10 tournament. The other four will face having to win four games on a neutral court to claim the tournament title. Dayton appears to have the most manageable remaining schedule. But the way this league's teams keep knocking each other off, who knows how it will all turn out?

Previous rankings

Monday, February 21, 2011

On senior night, Hampton seals the MEAC; Radford snaps three-game skid

HU senior Quanneisha Perry
HU senior Laura Lewis
Monday's results

Hampton 88, Florida A&M 49
Pirates win the MEAC regular season with this thumping of the Rattlers (13-12, 8-6) that sent out the Hampton seniors in style. Quanneisha Perry had her ninth double-double of the season (13 points, 10 boards) and Laura Lewis scored 12 with seven boards. The underclassmen added a few, too, including Jericka Jenkins (17 points, 11 assists). Only a hiccup at Bethune-Cookman interrupts a perfect conference season for these Pirates (20-6, 13-1), whose impressive play in this one included a 60 percent shooting effort in the first half.

South Carolina State 62, Norfolk State 49
Orangeburg was supposed to be the place where the Spartans (8-16, 1-13) ended that ugly conference road losing streak that will carry into the 2011-12 season as a result of this one. NSU dug a hole early, shooting 23 percent in the first half to trail 30-18. It was a better second half for the Spartans, but the same could be said for South Carolina State (8-16, 4-10), which shot 50 percent in the period. The Bulldogs also flaunted their depth as reserves accounted for 31 of their 62 points.

Radford 69, Winthrop 47
Nice to see the Highlanders (11-14, 8-4 Big South) return to the win column behind a dominating effort in the paint where they outscored the Lady Eagles 36-6. Don't know if you tuned into NC State romping over North Carolina where the Wolfpack committed a mere four turnovers, but Radford was almost as good here, turning it over six times. Brooke McElroy scored a game-high 18 for Radford, which will play its final four on the road.

Freshmen of influence: the state's top newcomers

Today's news that Richmond's Genevieve Okoro was named the Atlantic 10's Rookie of the Week got us thinking about which newcomers from the state's schools have made the biggest impact in 2010-11. There's still a chunk of season left, but if we had to rank them now:

1. Ataira Franklin, Virginia
Numbers: 8.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Honors: Marriott Cavalier Classic All-Tournament team; ACC Rookie of the Week (Feb. 14)
 - Has emerged as the Cavaliers' go-to player during a conference season by posting strong numbers that become eye-popping when viewed in context with the rest of her team. In ACC games, Frankin's 12.5 ppg is more than 4 points higher than the next highest-scoring Cavalier (Ariana Moorer, 8.2 ppg).  And her 20 3-pointers are equal to the next four Cavaliers combined and only 5 less than all of her teammates combined. And the best thing about Franklin is her accuracy. Against opponents in the rugged ACC the rookie is shooting 50 percent from the field, 51.3 percent from 3-point range and 94.1 percent from the free throw line.We haven't done the research, but we'd be surprised there's another other Division I regular in the country with percentages of 50, 50 and 90 in conference play.

2. Monet Tellier, Virginia Tech
Numbers: 8.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Honors: Hokie Garden Classic MVP; ACC Rookie of the Week (Dec. 20)
Like Franklin, Tellier has shown signs of being a foundation player, the type you can build a program around. Like most freshman, Tellier has been prone to bouts with inconsistency. But when she's on, look out. She lit Vanderbilt up for 23 points in the Hokie Garden Classic final and last week scored 17 straight points for the Hokies en route to another 23 at N.C. State.

3. Jumpin' Genevieve Okoro, Richmond
Numbers: 6.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg
Honors: Two-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week (Dec. 13, Feb. 21)
Okoro's numbers - she's Richmond's No. 2 rebounder - take on greater significance when you realize she's only averaging 17.4 minutes per game, 7th among Spiders. A key to Okoro's limited PT is the fact that she leads Richmond with 76 fouls and has fouled out of a team-high 6 games. Once Okoro learns how to limit her fouling - or at least not make it so obvious - she appears on her way to becoming one of the most productive players in her conference.

4. Emily Frazier, Liberty
Numbers: 4.2 ppg, team-high 2.6 apg
Honors: Two-time Big South Freshman of the Week
Has started 22 of 25 games and has supplied a steadying influence rarely asked from a freshman. Then again, Frazier isn't your typical freshman. The home-schooled Magnolia, Texas native completed her high school graduation requirements early and enrolled at Liberty in January, 2010. In other words, she'd been indoctrinated in the Lady Flames program a full 10 months before she ever appeared in a game.

5. Kaitlyn Mathieu, William and Mary
Numbers: 9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg
Honors: Cancun Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament team; two-time CAA Rookie of the Week (Nov. 29, Dec. 20).
Announced herself as a force during a torrid five-game stretch in late-November/early-December during which she averaged 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds. Has cooled a bit since, particularly on the boards, but is still capable of making a major impact - witness her 14-point, 9-rebound effort in Sunday's victory over Georgia State.

Other freshmen of note

- Rae Corbo, Norfolk State - Started 18 games and ranks second among Spartans with 9.9 ppg and is tied for the team high with 2.8 assists. Earned MEAC Rookie of the Week honors...hey, maybe she should have cracked our Top 5.

- Nicole Hamilton, Hampton - Feast-or-famine shooter who started out white-hot - earning MEAC Rookie of the Week honors in consecutive weeks in January - but has struggled to find the mark of late.

 - Nia Evans, Virginia Tech - Has started 12 games and is averaging 4.9 ppg.

 - Jackie Brewer, VCU - Flashed potential as a productive scorer in November and December but has seen her minutes dwindle since Andrea Barbour became eligible.

 - Bria White, Longwood - Ranks 5th among Lancers in scoring at 6.3 ppg.

 - Rachel Gordon, Norfolk State - Second on her team in rebounding (5.9 rpg); has shown the potential to be an effective scorer as well.

 - Special mention to Richmond's Kristina Puthoff-King, who was averaging 6.3 ppg through 12 games, including two starts, before going down for the season with a knee injury. Another Spiders freshman, two-sport star Becca Wann (3.1 ppg), will also be sidelined the rest of the way with a knee injury.

Hampton returns to work; NSU, Radford out to snap losing streaks

Monday's games

Norfolk State (8-15, 1-12 MEAC) at South Carolina State (7-16, 3-10 MEAC), 5:30 p.m.
NSU's last opportunity for a MEAC road win - the Spartans close the regular season with three home games - might also be the best opportunity they've had also season: against a South Carolina State team NSU beat 73-65 last month for their only conference win. The Spartans have dropped all seven games since, but S.C. State is 1-10 since Jan. 15. So this is it, guys. We're sure the Spartans are tired of hearing they've dropped 38 straight MEAC road games; we're tired of writing it. But there's only one way to make that stat disappear. Norfolk State 75, South Carolina State 72

Florida A&M (13-11, 8-5 MEAC) at Hampton (20-6, 12-1 MEAC), 6 p.m.
The Lady Pirates got their 20th victory without even entering their gym Saturday when Bethune-Cookman forfeited as part of its punishment for last Monday's in-game brawl with Maryland-Eastern Shore. That result, combined with Morgan State's loss to Delaware State, guarantees the Lady Pirates the No. 1 seed in the MEAC Tournament. At least that's how we read it - Hampton has a three-game lead over Morgan with three games to play, and even if the Lady Pirates lose three straight games, they own the tiebreaker over Morgan by virtue of their 75-54 win over the Lady Bears last month in the teams' lone regular-season meeting. Tonight's game will also give Hampton fans a chance to pay tribute to seniors Quanneisha Perry and Laura Lewis in their final home game. Hampton 69, Florida A&M 51

Winthrop (12-12, 5-6 Big South) at Radford (10-14, 7-4 Big South), 7 p.m.
The Highlanders have dropped three straight and really need to stop the bleeding tonight in tonight's home finale as their final four regular-season games are on the road. But it won't be easy against a Winthrop team that has won four of its last five games and defeated the Highlanders 65-55 when the teams met in Rock Hill, S.C. last month. Radford 57, Winthrop 50

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ODU, VCU rally for victories; Evans wins CAA heavyweight battle vs EDD

Sunday's results

Old Dominion 79, Hofstra 77
"Thriller" as Michael Jackson would say for the Lady Monarchs (18-8, 12-3), who needed this win to remain tied with UNC Wilmington for second in the CAA. With the game tied for the 13th time, this time at 77, Kquanise Byrd passed on the screen and drove to her left, where, hello, Shante Evans. The 5-8 ODU guard ducked under the 6-foot Hofstra forward and banked in the gamewinner. Hofstra had a final halfcourt heave that didn't fall, giving the Lady Monarchs plenty of reasons to celebrate after rebounding from Thursday's disappointing loss at VCU. The 79 points is their second largest offensive output of the season with Shadasia Green responsible for 17 of those, Jackie Cook, 16 and Alena Voronina, 15. Jasmine Parker wasn't a scoring machine (5 points), but she tied her career high with five steals. Byrd, by the way, had a career-best eight assists, but thankfully she shot at the right time.

James Madison 69, Delaware 64
In a battle of CAA heavyweights -- Dawn Evans vs. Elena Delle Donne, that is - Evans gets the nod, with 27 points, seven boards, five assists, three steals and most importantly, the win, that keeps the Dukes (21-6, 14-1) alone atop the league. Delle Donne struggled shooting the ball from the field (4-of-16), but still put up 21 points, including converting 13 of 14 from the line. Delaware led by a pair following a Delle Donne free throw, but who else, Evans, that is, put the Dukes for good on a layup with 1:45 left.

William and Mary 76, Georgia State 66
We're thrilled to see the Tribe win another conference game behind a stellar effort at the free-throw line (22-of-23), while the Panthers picked up just two points via free throw. Five players hit double figures (so much for keeping the game in the 50s, which we thought would work for the Tribe) as William and Mary was led by Taysha Pye (20 points, 7 assists). After heartbreakers in their last two, kudos to the Tribe (3-23, 2-13) for the kind of effort you want with the regular season winding down.

Towson 59, George Mason 53
The Patriots cut it to a single possession several times, including with 12.8 seconds left. But Krystal Parnell secured the Tigers third CAA win of the season with a pair of free throws. Much like Virginia and Virginia Tech struggled to score early, so did the Patriots, who managed just three field goals in the first half. Amber Easter tied her career high with 20

Duke 90, Virginia Tech 40
If you're looking for a silver lining, consider the Blue Devils (24-3, 10-2) will surely be a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. What was a 7-7 tie was broken when Duke scored 22 straight. The 50-point loss was the largest margin of defeat for the Hokies (11-16, 1-11) against an ACC foe. "Coming off a 22-point loss at Maryland, I’m sure they’ve had some talking to and a discussion about their energy and they took it to another level on the defensive end," said Hokies coach Beth Dunkenberger. Tech turned it over a season-high 32 times and you wonder if Dunkenberger is tempted to throw this game tape in the dumper.

VCU 73, Drexel 67
The Lady Monarchs weren't the only state team that had to rally. VCU (16-9, 11-4) trailed by 10 with 8:49 left. Good things rarely happen to the Rams in the DAC, where they haven't won since 2006-07. But Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour weren't bothered by that history. The duo combined for 53 points and were instrumental in an 18-2 run that brought the Rams back. It was a two-point game with 21.9 seconds left, but Hurt drained three of four down the line to seal it. Still, what an effort by Kamile Nacickaite, who in Gabriela Marginean like fashion, posted 30 points and eight rebounds.

Boston College 73, Virginia 50
Remember that 22-0 run we mentioned above for the Blue Devils? Well, the Cavaliers (15-13, 4-8 ACC) can relate. Virginia was in the hole 20-0, scoreless for the initial 9:41, and as a result, never drew closer than 19 the rest of the way. Nothing fell for the Cavaliers, 0-of-12 from behind the arc while the Eagles plopped in nine treys. Carolyn Swords, who is as automatic as UConn winning in Storrs, finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The Cavaliers had won five straight in this series, but a crowd of nearly 5,000 saw that string snapped by a Boston College team that is 5-7 in the ACC.