Friday, January 6, 2012

JMU shackles VCU; UNC survives Virginia in 2OTs

Thursday's games:

James Madison 64, VCU 43: The Rams still can't solve the Dukes defense. In fact, their problem has gotten worse. Two days after their excellent defensive effort against Duquesne, the Dukes (10-3, 1-1 CAA) ratcheted it up a few more notches and held VCU 25 points under its average and cruised to their eighth straight win in this series. Courtney Hurt, who began the week ranked third in Division I in scoring (24.6) was held to just 8 points on 2-of-13 shooting (take a bow, Nikki Newman). Andrea Barbour, a 17.7 points-per-game scorer going in, also could manage only 8 points on 2-of-15 shooting. That's a combined 16 points for the highest-scoring duo in Division I. As a team the Rams shot just 24 percent, and their point total was their lowest in nearly four years. Now we're sure the VCU (8-5, 1-1) can play better. But given that the Dukes have clearly established themselves as an excellent defensive team - along with the fact that VCU similarly handcuffed Hurt and Co. three times last year - it's hard to escape the conclusion that at this stage, the Dukes defense is simply a nut these Rams haven't figured out how to crack.

No. 25 North Carolina 78, Virginia 73 (2OT): It's a testament to how well Joanne Boyle has coached up these Cavaliers that we thought Virginia (12-4, 0-2 ACC) was ready to take down the nation's No. 25 team (at least according to the pollsters). And they almost pulled it off, as they led by 10 early in the second half before getting into a back-and-forth with the Tar Heels down the stretch of regulation. An Ariana Moorer layup with 18 seconds left forced the first overtime; tough luck on a late runner by Moorer sent the two teams out for another extra period. Virginia's short bench - even shorter now that point guard China Crosby is out for the season - doesn't favor the Cavaliers in extended play. Then again, the Tar Heels don't have much depth either. So credit UNC for surviving on the road. And a special tip of the cap to Virginia's Ataira Franklin, who delivered a career-high 29 points and 9 rebounds in defeat. Moorer added 15 points, 7 assists and 5 steals for the Cavaliers, who lost for the first time in 10 games at John Paul Jones Arena.

Virginia Tech 38, Boston College 35: Guess who's 2-0 in the ACC? That's right, Hokies fans, the team everyone picked to finish last - full disclosure: we did, too - is now rubbing elbows with the Dukes and the North Carolinas atop the conference standings. Sure, most of the football teams during this bowl season have scored more points than these guys. But while Tech (6-9, 2-0) didn't make a lot of shots, they made the biggest one of the night, a 3-pointer by Alyssa Fenyn with 40 seconds left that snapped a 35-35 tie and lifted the Hokies to their third straight victory. Monet Tellier scored 15 points to lead the Hokies, who in just two games have already topped their conference victory total for the entire 2010-11 season (1-13). Sweeter still, both wins came on the road.

William and Mary 76, George Mason 66: Huge second-half swing by the Tribe (8-5, 1-1 CAA), which trailed by 10 with 14:29 left before following Taysha Pye's lead and blowing past the Patriots (7-6, 1-1). Pye scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half. Emily Correal finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Jaclyn McKenna added 16 points and Janine Aldridge chipped in 15 as the Tribe showcase their diverse offensive arsenal at Mason's expense. Taleia Moton had 14 points and Amber Easter notched her third double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Patriots, who lost their third straight game, all on the road. The good news is they'll finally be playing at home again Sunday. The bad news? Their opponent will be Delaware.

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