Wednesday, March 2, 2011

JMU survives UNCW, locks down No. 1 seed

James Madison locked down the top seed in the CAA Tournament - barely - on the final day of CAA regular-season play Wednesday, and now the tournament pairings are set. All games will be held at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Thursday, March 10

No. 8 George Mason vs. No. 9 Georgia State, noon
No. 5 Hofstra vs. No. 12 William and Mary, 2:30 p.m.
No. 7 Delaware vs. No. 10 Northeastern, 5 p.m.
No. 6 Drexel vs. No. 11 Towson, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 11

No. 1 James Madison vs. George Mason-Georgia State winner, noon
No. 4 VCU vs. Hofstra-William and Mary winner, 2:30 p.m.
No. 2 Old Dominion vs. Delaware-Northeastern winner, 5 p.m.
No. 3 UNC Wilmington vs. Drexel-Towson winner, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 12

Semifnals at noon and 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 13

Final, 1 p.m.
Wednesday's results

James Madison 79, UNC Wilmington 77: Dawn Evans became the CAA's all-time leading scorer and the Dukes clinched the top seed in the CAA Tournament on a emotional roller-coaster ride of a Senior Night in Harrisonburg. The game featured 14 ties and 11 lead changes, and the Dukes didn't seize the advantage for good until an Evans' 3-point play with 1:22 left put JMU in front 77-74. Evans finished with 18 points, and her 3-pointer with 5:25 left in the second half vaulted her ahead of Drexel's Gabriele Marginean (2,581 points) for the most points in conference history. Evans now has 2,589...and counting. Meanwhile, senior Lauren Jimenez closed out her JMU Convocation Center career with a career-high 31 points, and clearly the Dukes needed every one of them. Freshman Alisha Andrews and Kristen Hanzer each scored 19 points to lead the Seahawks. So the Dukes will have that No. 1 seed next week. But this year, all that really means is they won't have to pack any road uniforms. Remember the days when the CAA Tournament was Old Dominion and everyone else? Now, it's everyone.

Drexel 65, Old Dominion 51: For the Lady Monarchs sake, here's hoping that stuff about momentum going into the postseason is overrated. We didn't see this game, but we've seen enough of Drexel to know that if you lose your discipline on defense, the Dragons will backdoor-cut layup and 3-point shoot you to death. That the Dragons shot 49 percent - 52 percent in the second half - suggests they were pretty much getting exactly the shots they wanted. Kamile Nacickaite punctuated her case for All-CAA honors with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Hollie Mershon had a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting for Drexel. Jackie Cook produced 13 points for the Lady Monarchs, who appeared to have things figured out after Sunday's strong effort against Delaware. Not sure which ODU team will show up for the CAA Tournament. But if it's Wednesday night's version, they probably won't be there long.

VCU 69, Georgia State 57: Courtney Hurt delivered 32 points and 10 rebounds for her CAA-record 23rd double-double for the Rams, who obliterated an 8-point second half deficit by outscoring the Panthers 32-12 over the final 11:52. But the story of this game was free throws. The Rams scored nearly half their points (33) from the line as despite being on the road they headed to the stripe a school-record 45 times. Hurt hit 15 of 19 free throws - she had 5 more attempts than the entire Georgia State team (14) - and Jennifer Lane overcame 0-for-6 shooting from the field by going 10-for-10 from the line. The Panthers were whistled for 33 fouls and three Georgia State players fouled out. We not suggesting the officials did anything wrong; we have no idea. But next time someone tells you the home team gets all the calls, hand 'em this boxscore.

George Mason 77, Northeastern 55: On Sunday, freshman Christine Weithman scored a career-high 9 points in 16 minutes and we were like, "Ah, that's nice." Wednesday, she lit up the Huskies for a game-high 21 points in just 15 minutes. Now we're like, "Whoa!" Thought this was supposed to be Senior Night. Actually, the Patriots seniors - Brittany Poindexter, Angelee LaTouche, Ashleigh Braxton and Brittany Eley - did their part as well, combining for 32 points and 13 rebounds. In other words, it kind of was everyone's night for the Patriots, who hit a season-high 10 from distance and also scored 36 points on Northeastern turnovers. The Huskies, who were decimated by the mid-season dismissal of two of their best players, continued their freefall and will take a 10-game losing streak into what figures to be an abbreviated stay in Upper Marlboro. Meanwhile, George Mason has definitely earned the spoiler's tag - and we suspect Weithman has earned a few more minutes.

Hofstra 91, William and Mary 84: That's an NBA score, isn't it? Shante Evans went for 36 points - the most by a Hofstra player since 2002 - and 14 rebounds and freshman Kate Loper added 26 points as the Pride snapped the tape first in this track meet of a basketball game. The Tribe made 'em work for it - we seem to be writing that a lot about William and Mary lately - and were tied at 78 before the Pride sprinted away. Taysha Pye scored 26 points, the underrated Katherine DeHenzel added 18, Katy Oblinger 11 and Kaitlyn Mathieu 10 for William and Mary, which shot 50 percent in defeat. The Tribe figure to make things interesting in the CAA Tournament. As for the Pride, they go into the tourney with a three-game winning streak. Bring your running shoes if you plan on keeping up with these guys. And be prepared to score a lot of points.

Other CAA score

Delaware 75, Towson 57: Elena Delle Donne finished with 31 points and 7 rebounds for the Blue Hens.

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