Thursday, December 29, 2011

Virginia takes title; Richmond outduels JMU

Virginia 53, UMass 38: The Minutewomen made the Cavaliers work for their eighth straight Cavalier Classic title, as they were down by just two early in the second half and still within three at 41-38 with 8:08 remaining. But as you can tell by that final score, UMass didn't score another point. Virginia won't win any prizes for its own offensive showing, as the Cavaliers shot just 32.7 percent for the game (23 percent in the second half). But if the other team isn't scoring at all.... Ariana Moorer (11 points, 7 steals) was named tournament MVP and Ataira Franklin (7 points on 3 of 13 shooting) joined her on the all-tournament team. OK, so it's not always pretty. In fact, it's rarely pretty. But on Nov. 11, how many of you had this team entering 2012 with a 12-2 overall record and a 9-0 mark at home that includes a win over Tennessee? So now, bring on the ACC, right? Emilie Teuschler scored 11 points to lead UMass (5-9), but former Old Dominion guard Carolann Cloutier was held scoreless in 38 minutes and committed 7 of her team's 28 turnovers. Cloutier did have 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Richmond 74, James Madison 66: Despite being one of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams, the Spiders (11-2) went into attack-the-rim mode against the Dukes and rode a 27-point, 10-rebound effort from Genevieve Okoro to their fifth straight victory. All 11 of the Spiders' first-half field goals came on layups, and they didn't splash their first 3-pointer until Becca Wann knocked one down with 12:41 left in the second half. Wann, America's best basketball walk-on, continued her recent surge with 17 points on 5-of-6 field goal, 6-of-6 free throw shooting. The soccer All-American is averaging 16.3 points over her last three games. Richmond's aggressiveness also led to 33 free throw attempts, with the Spiders converting 25. For the Dukes, Kiara Francisco came off the bench and delivered a career-high 20 points and 7 rebounds. Francisco scored 6 of her points during an 8-3 JMU run that got the Dukes (7-3) to within 43-42 with 11:24 left. But Richmond responded with 13 of the next 15 points to effectively settle things. In Friday's final, the Spiders will face host Lehigh (7-6) at 7:30 p.m. The Dukes will go against hapless Rhode Island (1-12) at 5 p.m.

Virginia Tech 57, UMBC 52: Tech coach Dennis Wolff was hoping that the intensity his team displayed in shaving a 25-point deficit to single digits against Cincinnati on Wednesday would carry over. Looks like it did, with a big assist from super-active freshman Larryqua Hall (a career-high 11 rebounds). "Larryqua has worked like crazy and her energy level really got us going several times," Wolff said. Monet Tellier led Tech scorers with 18 points and Latorri Hines-Allen and 9 points and 7 rebounds. Brittany Crowell, formerly of James Madison, scored 16 points for the Retrievers. It was Tech's first appearance in the consolation game in 22 years of Hokie Classics, and the Hokies (4-9) certainly hope it's their last. But at least they salvaged some pride. In the championship game, Cincinnati throttled High Point 62-40.

Tulane 66, Hampton 53: Jericka Jenkins went for 28 points, but it was a otherwise difficult offensive night for the Lady Pirates in the final of Tulane's Doubletree Classic. Hampton shot just 29.8 percent for the game and no other Lady Pirate finished in double figures. Hampton's defense kept them in it for a while, but Tulane shot 51 percent in the second half, and guard Olivia Grayson scored 24 of her team-high 26 points in the final 20 minutes as the Green Wave won their own tournament for the fourth straight year. The Lady Pirates also weren't thrilled with some of the foul calls, particularly during a second-half stretch in which they were whistled for nine straight infractions before the Green Wave picked up one. When the next call when against Hampton, Lady Pirates coach David Six voiced his displeasure and picked up a technical. Tulane made 3 of 4 free throws as a result (2 FTs for the foul, 2 for the technical), and increased their lead from 6 to 9 points with just 2:19 remaining. "I thought it was a costly technical," Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. "We got to the free throw line, it was a distraction for a second and we had the free throws. I thought that really cost them because they had the momentum at that point." Center Brett Benzio added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Tulane (11-2). Ariel Phelps had 8 points and 10 rebounds for Hampton (9-3). Jenkins and Phelps were named to the all-tournament team; Grayson was selected tournament MVP.

No. 12 Miami 91, VCU 61: VCU starting guards Christina Carter, a freshman, and Carleeda Green, a junior-college transfer, figured to be in extremely deep waters against the super-disruptive Hurricane defense. Green and Carter finished with a combined 19 of VCU's 30 turnovers, and the Hurricanes scored 32 points off Rams mistakes to cruise to their holiday tournament title and their 32nd straight victory at home. Not surprisingly, though, the event wasn't too big for Rams star Courtney Hurt, who finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds and made the all-tournament team.

Ohio 75, George Mason 59: Taleia Moton scored 25 points, but the Patriots' typically stingy defense was torched for 52.8 percent shooting by five double-digit scorers for Ohio. The Bobcats also turned it over only 10 times, and hit 14 of 17 free throws. We're sure the Patriots can play better. But sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other guys.

Monmouth 69, Norfolk State 62: Batavia Owens came off the bench and produced 12 points and 13 rebounds. But it was a tough day for the Spartans starters. Leading scorer Whitney Long (9 points) was just 3 of 17 from the field and the two other Spartans that average in double figures, Rae Corbo and Rachel Gordon, each played just 17 minutes. Even so, NSU were in position to steal this one tied at 53 with 4:40 left. But Monmouth scored 9 of the next 10 points, then salted the game away by making 7 of 8 free throws in the final 52 seconds. The Spartans (5-6) have now lost four straight and will conclude play in the Hawks Holiday Classic today against probably the toughest foe they've faced this season, St. Bonaventure (11-2).

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