Thursday, December 8, 2011

Teamwork key in ODU victory over Wofford

Make no mistake about it, Old Dominion's 70-58 victory over Wofford was a team effort.

We know this because Lady Monarchs coach Karen Barefoot used that phrase about five times in her postgame remarks, and team leader Tia Lewis dropped the T-word three times herself, twice in one sentence.

Fortunately for Lady Monarchs, they could talk this talk because over the preceding two hours, they'd walked the walk with a determined all-for-one performance featuring contributions throughout the roster.

Under the circumstances, the timing for such an effort couldn't have been better. As everyone with even a passing interest knows by now, the Lady Monarchs have struggled out of the blocks this season, and we were concerned that the mounting losses might be having an ill-effect on the team's psyche. After Sunday's 85-69 loss at George Mason - ODU's fourth straight setback - Barefoot said some of the players were getting down on themselves, a dangerous thing given that there were still 21 regular-season games remaining.

Two solid days of practice later, though, the Lady Monarchs performed as though they were riding a six-game winning streak. Not surprisingly, Lewis was the best player on the floor, as she used her experience to avoid forcing things against double-teams, her savvy to get her teammates involved and then her considerable skillz to torch the subsequent single coverage for a career high-tying 27 points. By the way, love the hot pink fingernails.

In addition, Mairi Buchan provided energy and production off the bench and had her best game of the season with 13 points and 9 rebounds. And freshman Myeisha Hall pestered the Terriers at both ends (9 points, 3 steals) in her promising 18-minute stint.

While the stat sheet wasn't as flattering to the other Lady Monarchs, everyone who took the floor had a role in the often-tenacious defensive effort that produced 21 turnovers and continually limited Wofford's options in the halfcourt.

To be fair, Wofford (6-2) isn't going to challenge UConn and Baylor for an NCAA title. But the Terriers are  well-coached and good at what they do. Furthermore, they came to the Constant Center with something the Lady Monarchs were still searching for - the confidence that comes with success.

Now, the Lady Monarchs have some of that, too, after putting together a solid win. An encouraging win.

A team win.

In other games Wednesday:

Virginia 64, Liberty 38: Cavaliers defense struck again as Lady Flames (3-5) shot just 27 percent, had 33 turnovers - which led to 32 Virginia points - and became the fifth Virginia opponent to be held to 49 points or less. Devon Brown had 18 points and became the 14th Liberty player to reach 1,000 career points, and Avery Warley added 14. Of course, that means the other eight Lady Flames that saw action combined for just 6 points. But again, Virginia's defense has done this to a lot of teams. China Crosby had 12 points and Chelsea Shine and Ariana Moorer each had 10 for the Cavaliers (8-2), who had 21 assists on 26 field goals.

VCU 62, East Carolina 49: Courtney Hurt scored 21 of her season-high 28 points in the second half and added 12 rebounds as the Rams (5-3) improved to 4-0 in road games this season. Hurt essentially took the game over at the 17:46 mark of the second half by scoring 13 of VCU's next 17 points to expand a three-point lead to a 48-34 advantage. Andrea Barbour added 14 points for the Rams, and a special shoutout to freshman Christina Carter, who had 5 points and 5 assists in 30 minutes as the starting point guard. The Rams played their second straight game without senior Jennifer Lane, who had started all but one game since Day One of her freshman year before sitting out Sunday's contest against Northeastern . Kristine Mial, a junior college All-American who spent her freshman year at James Madison, led ECU with 17 points, and Britny Edwards, formerly of Virginia, had 6 points and 6 assists in 24 minutes off the bench for the Pirates, who had won 12 straight at home.

Wake Forest 90, Radford 67: At least the Highlanders hung around for a while this time. Two games ago, the Radford spotted George Washington a 23-0 lead, and in their previous game the Highlanders fell behind Longwood 15-0. But they only spotted Wake a 6-0 advantage and were down by just 17-13 before things got away. Sarah Tabb scored 14 points on near-perfect shooting (4-of-5 from the field, 4-of-4 from the line) and Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led all Highlanders with 16 points. Of course, offense clearly wasn't Radford's biggest problem Wednesday. Then again, Wake Forest did score 31 points off Radford turnovers.

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