Monday, January 30, 2012

Hampton, Liberty, Radford prevail, Norfolk State caught from behind

Monday's results:

Liberty 78, Gardner-Webb 51: Used to be this was the marquee matchup on the Big South schedule, a duel of finalists in the conference tournament the past three seasons. The Lady Flames still have that kind of team, but rebuilding Gardner-Webb no longer bears any resemblance to the group that took down Liberty in the 2011 Big South tournament final. So after a relatively close first half, Monday's game took on a predictable tone as the Lady Flames outscored the Running Bulldogs 24-6 in the first 10 minutes after the break to take a 30-point lead. Reagan Miller (a career-high 5 3-pointers) scored 18 points, Devon Brown added 14 and Avery Warley chipped in 13 points and 12 rebounds as Liberty cruised into the midway point of the Big South schedule on a seven-game winning streak. What we're left with is essentially a two-team race for the No. 1 seed in the league tournament between first-place High Point (14-6, 9-0) and Liberty (13-7, 8-1), which has engineered six of its eight conference victories by at least 20 points. No other Big South team has fewer than four conference losses. On Monday, High Point will host Liberty in a rematch of the Jan. 7 showdown the Panthers won 73-69 in overtime in Lynchburg.

Hampton 74, Morgan State 60: The Lady Pirates scored 32 points off turnovers in this nationally televised affair (ESPNU) to bounce back from Saturday's overtime loss to Morgan State. It's strange to see Hampton's usually stifling defense surrender 60 or more points in back-to-back games, and the Lady Pirates' 36.1 field goal percentage surely isn't where they'd like it, either. But hey, they can't all be masterpieces, right? Jericka Jenkins had 25 points and 8 assists with just one turnover and Melanie Warner added 20 points for Hampton (16-4, 8-1 MEAC), who will have a full week to fine-tune some things before returning to the court Monday at Delaware State. The Lady Pirates are currently in second place in the MEAC behind Florida A&M (15-5, 8-0). The two teams will meet just once in the regular season, on Feb. 25 in Tallahassee, Fla.

Coppin State 61, Norfolk State 58: A disappointing result for the Spartans, who led by 9 in the second half and by 7 with just under 10 minutes to play before surrendering their advantage by going the next 5:20 without scoring a point. A Rachel Gordon jumper with 1:52 left got NSU to within one, but Rae Corbo, who has been money in late-game situations or the Spartans all season, was unable to connect on three jumpers and committed a turnover on NSU's final four possessions. Gordon finished with 10 points and a school Division I record-tying 21 rebounds - this two days after she hauled down 19 rebounds in a loss to Morgan State. The loss dropped the Spartans (8-12) to 3-6 in the MEAC, but four of the losses were by 7 points or less. So the Spartans should have chances to dramatically improve that record if they can avoid some of the scoring droughts that have cost them during the first half of the MEAC schedule.

Radford 72, UNC Asheville 62: Back-to-back 3-pointers by Ashley Buckhannon in the opening 1:06 of the second half launched the Highlanders (10-10, 4-5 Big South)to their second straight road victory and third win in a row. Buckhannon finished with 20 points, Da'Naria Erwin Spencer led all scorers with 21 and Victoria Hamilton chipped in 11 for Radford. The Highlanders also racked up 12 steals - its fifth straight game of 10 or more - and forced 19 turnovers while committing only nine. UNC Asheville fell despite a huge night from Shonese Jones, who drained five 3-pointers and finished with 30 points.

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