Saturday, February 5, 2011

Liberty seizes Big South lead, Richmond outduels the Bonnies

Saturday's results

Richmond 56, St. Bonaventure 50: It's tough to win on the road anywhere, particularly in a league the caliber of the Atlantic 10, so kudos to the Spiders for doing it twice in a four-day span and especially getting this one against the tough Bonnies. Consistent offense remains elusive for the Spiders (15-8, 6-3 Atlantic 10), but they did an excellent job of neutralizing St. Bonaventure's primary threats. And while the Spiders didn't make many 3-pointers (5), most of them were well-timed. Brittani Shells' 3-ball to close out the first half sent the Spiders into intermission tied at 23, and back-to-back triples by Abby Oliver and Kara Powell to open the second half gave Richmond the league it nurtured throughout the final 20 minutes. Oliver scored all 14 of her points in the second half and added a career-high 12 rebounds. Shells led Richmond with 18 points, and Crystal Goring chimed in with 10 rebounds and 8 points.

Liberty 58, High Point 57: Devon Brown blocked Erin Reynolds' layup attempt with 3 seconds remaining to preserve the victory and boost the Lady Flames (14-8, 8-1) ahead of Radford and into first place in the Big South. Avery Warley's jumper with 2:02 left put Liberty in front 56-55, and Warley made it a 3-point lead with a rebound and stickback of a Brown missed layup with 1:12 left. High Point's reigning Big South Freshman of the Week Cheyenne Parker cut Liberty's advantage to one with a layup with 44 seconds left, setting the stage for Brown's heroics. Warley finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for her 7th double-double in 9 Big South games. Brown added 15 points, Tolu Omatola 12 rebounds and Jelena Antic 10 points for the Lady Flames, who won their fifth straight and 10th in their last 11 games.

UNC Asheville 70, Radford 60: It used to be we were surprised (pleasantly, of course) when the Highlanders won. After the way they've played since January, we're now surprised when they lose. This one isn't hard to figure out, though. The Bulldogs seem to solve Radford's defense better than any other Big South team. The 70 points are the most the Highlanders (10-12, 7-2 Big South) have surrendered to a conference foe, one more than the 69 the Bulldogs put up when these teams met on Jan. 3. Radford has held everyone else except Winthrop to 56 points or less in regulation. The Highlanders prevailed in that first meeting 81-69 by shooting a season-high 53 percent from the field. But Radford shot just 32 percent Saturday. The Bulldogs also enjoyed a commanding 58-35 rebounding advantage. But 44 of UNC Asheville's total came on the defensive boards, a natural outgrowth of Radford missing so many shots.

Hampton 77, South Carolina State 57: A stat-stuffer's delight for the Lady Pirates. Quanneisha Perry went for 25 points and 16 rebounds, Choicetta McMillian scored a career-high 22 points and Jericka Jenkins dished out a career-high 17 assists, the second-most in school history as Hampton (16-6, 9-1 MEAC) maintained its one-game lead over Morgan State in the MEAC standings. Two mild areas of concern for Hampton. While the Lady Pirates led by double digits most of the way and by at least 20 throughout the final 10 minutes, 4 of Hampton's 5 starters still logged at least 33 minutes. Hampton's key players will take a lot of mileage into the postseason. Also, freshman Nicole Hamilton, who gave the Lady Pirates a terrific offensive spark early in MEAC play, went scoreless in 11 minutes Saturday and has scored just 16 points in her last four games combined. Of course, this didn't hurt them Saturday. Neither did South Carolina State.

Maryland-Eastern Shore 72, Norfolk State 49: Yet another conference road loss - 37 straight since January, 2007 - for the Spartans (8-11, 1-8 MEAC), who trailed by just four points early in the second half before getting blitzed by a 16-6 run from which they couldn't recover. We've had Monday's game at Delaware State circled for weeks as NSU's best opportunity to leave another MEAC team's gym winners. On Saturday, DelState snapped a six-game losing streak by upsetting North Carolina A&T. No matter. We still believe the Spartans will get it done.

Winthrop 54, Longwood 46: Hard to believe the Lancers (5-16) could do anything less successfully than they managed last weekend at mighty Maryland, but Longwood actually shot slightly better against the Terrapins than the measly 25.9 percent from the field they produced Saturday at Winthrop. Chelsea Coward scored 19 in defeat.

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