Sunday, November 20, 2011

Virginia shocks No.3 Tennesee; JMU, Richmond win with ease

Shine shined with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Who needs hot dogs? Actually we're eating crow tonight, as we openly admit we didn't remotely forecast Virginia upsetting No. 3 Tennessee at the JPJ Arena. We figured the Cavaliers would put on a good show and fade down the stretch. Instead, they had enough left for OT and pulled off the program's third-ever victory over the Lady Vols in 16 tries. Five Cavaliers were in double figures led by senior Chelsea Shine with 18 points and nine boards in the 69-64 OT win. What this tells us is that Virginia does have a team that belongs in the national rankings. While we thought Joanne Boyle would take some time adjusting to her new role as she recruited her own kids, it seems she's doing terrific with these kids, as Virginia is a quiet 4-0. "I just saw us mature," Boyle said."I'll be honest in that last five minutes, our seniors took over. I know China's (Crosby) not a senior. She came down and hit some big free throws for us. There was a maturity about us in that last five minutes that they punched and we punched back. They played a chess match; we played a chess match. It's a great opportunity for the kids to be in a game like that and see their growth and get stretched and be able to finish like that."

Speaking of crow, how wrong were we about James Madison? Yep, flogging with the wet noodle coming as we openly admit we didn't think these Dukes (4-0) would get past Middle Tennessee, which was exactly the case, 60-46. Six 3s helped including a 4-of-4 effort from Kirby Burkholder from behind the arc. Jasmine Gill had 18 and Lauren Whitehurst 11, as JMU won its 14th straight in Harrisonburg. "If we can improve on this, I think bigger things are going to happen," said coach Kenny Brooks. "Then we might be hanging another banner in here."

Speaking of 4-0, how about those Richmond Spiders? The Spiders scored 15 points in the initial two minutes at the Constant Center and never looked back, defeating the Lady Monarchs 78-63. Chalk up 1,000 career points for Abby Oliver, who scored a season-high 22. The ODU players talked about being fatigued after a grueling trip to the West Coast,  where they lost to Stanford by 50. But the reality facing the Lady Monarchs (0-4) right now is trying to find a win somewhere on the schedule in the month of November. The Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands is next with Alabama, Seton Hall and Louisiana Tech on the bill. While none of those teams is a powerhouse, each of them looks better than the Lady Monarchs at this point in the season. We like the fearlessness of Ashley Betz-White but still believe asking a true freshman to come in and lead at point is a tall order. Only 979 watched this game on a campus that is giddy over its football team awaiting a playoff date with Norfolk State on Saturday.

We didn't get every prediction wrong on Sunday, though we don't take any joy in Longwood falling to High Point 73-51. Crystal Smith  had 16 for the Lancers, who misfired on all eight of their 3-point attempts. Brittanni Billups had 10 points and 10 boards; Longwood is 1-3.

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