Monday, February 14, 2011

Virginia Tech breaks through for 1st ACC win

Monday's results

Virginia Tech 68, Clemson 56: Hooray, Hokies! Their first ACC win of the season comes on "Pack the House" night at Clemson, where 1,798 turned out. Shanel Harrison dropped in 18 and Nikki Davis scored 17 for the Hokies, who seized control with a 10-2 run late in the second half that boosted their advantage to 11 with 2:43 to play. Davis and Alyssa Fenyn sealed the win by combining to go 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 56 seconds. The worst free-throw shooting team in the ACC going in (57.6 percent), Tech made 20 of 27 from the line against the Tigers. The Hokies also scored 18 points off Clemson turnovers and held the Tigers to 29-percent shooting from the field. Tech was far from perfect itself (23 turnovers), but they did more than enough to get that zero off the left side of their conference ledger, and that's all that counts. But now that that's out of the way, why settle for just one win? We don't to get too ahead of ourselves, but with N.C. State next.......

Hampton 74, North Carolina A&T 66: This was hardly vintage Lady Pirates. Hampton blew a 17-point first-half lead and actually trailed by a point with less than 7 minutes remaining. And the 66 points were 9 more than this typically rock-solid defensive team has allowed in any of their previous 11 MEAC games. But when the Lady Pirates absolutely had to get it done, they delivered. A driving layup by reigning MEAC Player of the Week Jericka Jenkins with 3:43 left snapped a 61-61 tie and launched Hampton's decisive 11-2 run.  Choicetta McMillan led four Lady Pirates in double figures with a career-best 22 and nailed 5 3-pointers. Hampton's defense? Considerably fewer highlights. But hey, wins in Greensboro aren't easy to come by. Monday's result gave Hampton its first sweep of the Lady Aggies since 2005 and ended A&T's 30-game home winning streak. Also, when coupled with Morgan State's surprising 60-57 loss at South Carolina State, the win gave Hampton a two-game lead in the MEAC race with just four games remaining. Next up: Bethune-Cookman at home, and if you're wondering how hard that can be remember the Wildcats rallied from 17 to hand the Lady Pirates their only MEAC defeat last month in Daytona Beach.

Liberty 72, Winthrop 38: Introducing the Big South Player of the Year - Avery Warley. OK, the award hasn't been handed out yet, but at this stage, it's hard to imagine in winding up in anyone else's hands. On Monday Warley produced what's become a fairly typical game for the 6-3 junior from D.C. - 16 points and 12 rebounds. The double-double was the fourth straight and 11th in 13 games for Warley, who leads the Big South in rebounding (12.6) and field-goal percentage (57.7) while ranking 6th in the league in scoring (12.8). Sounds like a player of the year to us. As for this game, the 34-point victory gave the Lady Flames a matching set of routs over the Lady Eagles, who fell by 37 when these teams met 17 days ago in Rock Hill, S.C. With Radford falling to Coastal Carolina, Liberty now has a two-game lead in the Big South race with five games left. So while the league prepares to send Warley the player-of-the-year award, they ought to start prepping to ship their regular-season title to Lynchburg, too.

Coastal Carolina 55, Radford 54: Ouch. The Highlanders led by 10 early in the second half and still had a 2-point lead with just over 2 minutes left. But back-to-back layups by Katie White and Sydnei Moss bumped the Chanticleers ahead, and Coastal hit 8-of-8 free throws in the final 37 seconds to hand Radford its second straight loss. Victoria Hamilton nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, too bad the Highlanders needed a 4-pointer. No time to hang their heads, though, as Liberty visits on Saturday. Radford won the first meeting and if they have any hope of catching the Lady Flames in the Big South, they'll need another.

Howard 66, Norfolk State 49: Ever heard of Saadia Doyle? If you were at Echols Arena Monday night, you probably got sick of hearing it. The 5-11 sophomore racked up a career-high 38 points and added 10 rebounds for the other HU (11-15, 7-5). Doyle now leads the MEAC in scoring at 18.1 ppg, and for a while there it appeared she might outscore NSU all by herself - the Howard star had 16 in the first half, the Spartans just 12.  The loss was NSU's sixth straight, with the last four coming by 17 points or more. The Spartans (8-14, 1-11) proved earlier in the season that they're capable of much better performances. But with so many young players on hand, we wonder if some of them haven't simply hit the wall.

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