Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Virginia rallies past JMU; Richmond holds off Liberty

 Tuesday's results:

Virginia 59, James Madison 53: Heck of a Commonwealth showdown. The feeling going in was the Cavaliers might comfortably avenge losses to the Dawn Evans-led Dukes the past two seasons. Obviously, the Dukes didn't share that feeling, and instead went out and became one of the few teams to successfully attack Virginia's usually-shutdown zone. JMU led by eight at halftime and built their advantage to 12 early in the second half. What happens next depends on which side you ask. Cavaliers coach Joanne Boyle credited defensive adjustments for slowing the Dukes down. JMU coach Kenny Brooks pointed to foul trouble to starters Lauren Whitehurst, Nikki Newman and Kirby Burkholder that made him resort to funky lineups and threw the Dukes out of rhythm. We're sure they're both right. This much is clear, though - with the game tied at 53 and less than three minutes remaining, the Cavaliers made plays and the Dukes didn't. Ataira Franklin's jumper with 2:28 to play gave Virginia the lead for good, and Telia McCall followed with a layup. The Dukes, meanwhile, had turnovers on three straight possessions.

Franklin finished with a career-high 22 points, and Chelsea Shine and Ariana Moorer each had 12. Jasmine Gill led JMU with 19 points and Tarik Hislop chipped in 14. But Burkholder, Whitehurst and Newman combined to finish with more fouls (13) than points (12). Still, our takeaway was that the Dukes are just a few tweaks away from landing a big road win against a Top 25-caliber team. Virginia, meanwhile, displayed resilience when faced with their 12-point second-half deficit. So while Virginia fans are the only ones that can celebrate, both fanbases should feel pretty good about where their teams are at this stage of the season.

The game began on a somber note, though, as star-crossed point guard China Crosby went down in the first minute with an apparent left knee injury. The junior returned to the Virginia bench in the second half on crutches and wearing a knee brace. No word yet on the extent of Crosby's injury. Given the knee issues she's already battled through in each of her first two seasons, we're obviously praying for the best possible news.

Richmond 66, Liberty 54: We sized this up as a poor matchup for the Lady Flames, and it look every bit that way for the first 25 minutes or so as the Spiders (9-2) raced out to a 48-27 lead. But Liberty freshman Catherine Kearney ignited a furious Liberty rally that got the Lady Flames to within six points. But Rachael Bilney buried a dagger 3-pointer - after a Becca Wann offensive rebound - with 2:49 remaining to blunt Liberty's momentum and send the Spiders to their third straight victory. Abby Oliver led all scorers with 23 points for Richmond and Wann, the soccer All-American, turned in one of her best basketball performances with a career-high 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in 24 minutes off the bench. Devon Brown scored 17 points and Avery Warley contributed 16 points and 9 rebounds for Liberty (5-6).

Southeast Missouri St. 56, Longwood 52: The Lancers (2-10) were unable to return from the Wright State Invitational with a victory, but they were increasingly more competitive in each of the three games and came within a well-timed basket or two of nabbing this one. Brittanni Billups posted her second straight double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds and Erin Neal had 12 points for Longwood.

No comments:

Post a Comment