Friday, January 20, 2012

JMU shuts down Hofstra; Miami nips Virginia, ODU, George Mason prevail, VCU stunned at UNCW

Thursday's games:

James Madison 81, Hofstra 63: A tribute to the power of defense and rebounding, as the Dukes grabbed a season-high 64 boards - 19 more than than the Pride - while making yet another talented offensive team cry "Uncle!" Duquesne and VCU both got JMUed a couple of weeks ago, and a Pride team that came in averaging nearly 80 points a game suffered a similar fate Thursday against the much more physical Dukes. JMU runs into problems occasionally when it can't get an offensive performance to match this kind of defense. But the Dukes (13-4, 4-2 CAA) had no problems in that area this time - Tarik Hislop went for a career-high 25 points and Jasmine Gill added 21, 19 in the second half. Then there was precocious freshman Toia Giggetts, who seems to be developing into a quality Division I player with every dribble. Giggetts was the best player on the floor in the first half (15 points, 8 rebounds) and finished with career high totals of 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Hofstra team we saw Thursday bore little resemblance to the group that has lit up the scoreboard on its first five conference foes; the Pride (13-4, 5-1) shot just 31 percent for the game, and star forward Shante Evans was saddled with foul trouble and finished with modest totals (for her) of 14 points and 8 rebounds. But since we've seen JMU do this to teams before, we suspect Thursday's outcome was less about how Hofstra played than how JMU made Hofstra play. It appears as though film study doesn't do JMU's defensive prowess justice; it's one thing to see it on film, and quite another to be on the court and actually experience it. It'll be interesting to see if VCU and Hofstra can match the Dukes' intensity when they meet for a second time. This much seems clear - they'd better.

No.11 Miami 56, Virginia 53:  Stop us if you've heard this before - the Cavaliers battle hard, frustrate a ranked team and position themselves for a huge win, only to fall just short in the final minutes. This frustrating script played out yet again at John Paul Jones Arena, where the Cavaliers took a 53-51 lead on an Ariana Moorer layup with 2:32 left but went turnover, two missed free throws and turnover on their next three possessions.  Shenise Johnson's old-fashioned 3-point play with 1:04 left put the Hurricanes up 54-53, and Johnson made two free throws with 19 seconds left as Miami hung on. The Cavaliers (14-6, 2-4 ACC) were hurt badly but 11-of-24 free throw shooting, and by giving up an offensive rebound before Johnson's final free throws that cost them a chance to play for the last shot down by just one. But it was an otherwise superior defensive effort for Virginia, which forced 27 turnovers and succeeded in forcing the normally high-powered Hurricanes (16-3, 5-1) into a game in the 50s. In short, the Cavaliers once again did most of the things they needed to do to prevail. They just need to close the deal. 

UNC Wilmington 57, VCU 56: Shocking finish at UNCW's Trask Coliseum as the Seahawks rallied from 7 points down in the final 2:18 and won it on Alisha Andrews' runner off glass with 19 seconds left. Full credit to the Seahawks (10-7, 3-3 CAA) for stacking big play on top of big play in the clutch. But the Rams (11-6, 4-2) contributed heavily to their own demise with four turnovers in the final 2:02 and by, remarkably, surrendering an offensive rebound to the barely 5-foot-tall Andrews off a missed free throw with 32 seconds left and VCU clinging to a one-point lead. After a 30-second timeout, Andrews delivered the game-winner. The forgettable finish spoiled what was shaping up as a memorable night for VCU star Courtney Hurt, who grabbed her 1,000th career rebound and became the second player in program history to post 1,000 points and 1,000 boards. Hurt finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds; Jessica Freeman and Tawanna Lee each had 14 to pace UNCW.

Old Dominion 71, Georgia State 60: Mairi Buchan scored a career-high 16 points and drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in a 37-second span to break a 46-46 second-half tie and propel the Lady Monarchs (6-12, 3-3 CAA) to their second victory over the Panthers in 15 days. Buchan made 4 of her 6 3-pointers for the game, while Tia Lewis (12 points, 8 rebounds) became the seventh Lady Monarch with at least 1,000 career rebounds. Jackie Cook added 12 points and Jo Guilford chipped in 11 for the Lady Monarchs, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Alana Beroth scored 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting to lead Georgia State (6-11, 0-6), which remained the only winless team in CAA play.

George Mason 82, William and Mary 70: The formerly sluggish Patriots offense went from pretty good in the first half to sensational in the second, producing 47 points after the break to snap a six-game losing streak. The Tribe led 41-35 at halftime and were down by just two with less than two minutes to play. But Moton scored eight of the game's final nine points and nailed a dagger 3-pointer with 1:30 to play to boost the Patriots' advantage to five. Moton scored 23 of her game-high 28 points after the break and Amber Easter (18 points), Janaa Pickard (12), Rahneeka Saunders (11) and Christine Weithman (10) all finished in double figures. The Patriots (8-9, 2-4 CAA) had been held to 59 points or less in six of their last seven games and hadn't scored anywhere near this many points since their 85-59 win over Old Dominion on Dec. 4. Katherine DeHenzel had 15 points and 10 assists, Emily Correal added 13 points and Taysha Pye chipped in 12 for the Tribe (8-9 1-5), who continue to have no trouble scoring. But William and Mary is allowing 85.5 points per game during its current four-game losing streak. The Tribe's offense is good, but not that good.

No. 24 North Carolina 56, Virginia Tech 37: The undermanned Hokies (6-13, 2-4 ACC) did a good job of staying connected to the Tar Heels for a half before they ran out of offensive answers. It was the fifth straight game in which Tech has been held to 40 points or less. Monet Tellier led Tech with 16 points and Porschia Hadley added 8. For the Tar Heels (13-5, 3-2), the victory was the 600th win at UNC for coach Sylvia Hatchell.

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