Thursday, January 12, 2012

Virginia tops Tech, JMU, W&M and Mason all fall

Strange night. In three of the four games, the team that led at halftime lost, on two occasions by double figures. And the fourth halftime leader needed a last half-second shot to hang on.

Thursday's games:

Virginia 52, Virginia Tech 39: The rebuilding Hokies (6-11, 2-2 ACC) are clearly limited in numbers and overall strength, but they can still make it tough on teams when they play with great effort and intensity. Such was the case Thursday when they got the jump on the sluggish Cavaliers with relatively mistake-free offensive execution (5 first-half turnovers) and just enough perimeter shooting to forge a 22-17 halftime lead. Virginia's switch from its preferred zone to a man-to-man paid huge dividends, though, as the Cavaliers (14-4, 2-2) not only rattled Tech (15 second-half turnovers) but also jump-started its own offense and won going away. In the process, Ariana Moorer became the 27th Cavalier to crack the 1,000-point barrier. Moorer finished with 11 points; Lexie Gerson led Virginia with 13 points and Ataira Franklin added 12. As is usually the case for the Hokies, guards handled the bulk of Tech's scoring. Starters Monet Tellier (14 points), Aerial Wilson (10) and Alyssa Fenyn (7) combined for 31 of Tech's 39 points.

Drexel 60, James Madison 43: This is what can happen when the Dragons can play at their methodical pace, run their stuff and are making shots. Drexel trailed 25-17 at halftime but shot 58.3 percent after the break, made 14 of 16 free throws and turned it over just two times to notch its first-ever regular-season victory in Harrisonburg. Hollie Mershon scored a career-high 27 points (4 of 6 3-pointers) and Kamile Nacickaite added 15 for Drexel (7-7, 3-1 CAA). Lauren Whitehurst led the Dukes (11-4, 2-2 CAA) with 14 points (12 in the first half), but leading scorers Tarik Hislop and Jasmine Gill were a combined 5-of-23 from the field as JMU discovered it doesn't play Drexel's game nearly as well as Drexel.

Towson 77, William and Mary 75: Another heartbreaker for the Tribe, as Sheree Ledbetter connected on a layup with four-tenths of a second left to lift the Tigers to a home victory. This comes four days after the Tribe led by a point with less than a minute to play, only to drop a 100-97 decision to Hofstra. The Tribe (8-7, 1-3 CAA) seemingly lost games like this all the time last season, and if they're not careful they might start having 2010-11 flashbacks. So here's hoping they leave all their heartache in Baltimore and keep moving forward; this team has too much going for it to start feeling sorry for itself. Back to the game: Janine Aldridge (4 of 6 3-pointers) had 18 points to lead four players in double figures as once again the Tribe found multiple ways to score. Their defense came and went in the first half, but the Tribe dug in after the break and erased a 13-point second-half deficit twice - first on an Aldridge layup with 50 seconds left, the second on an 8-foot floater from Taysha Pye with just six seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Tribe, the Tigers (11-4, 2-2) only needed 5.6 seconds.

Northeastern 58, George Mason 54: Ouch. The Patriots led by 16 at halftime, then went stone cold early in the second half while the Huskies (3-12, 1-3 CAA) used 3-pointers and foul shots to deal the Patriots (7-8, 1-3) their fifth straight loss. Don't be fooled by Northeastern's record, as the Huskies have played everyone tough and were probably due to get over the hump against someone. But overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit, against a team in desperate search of a win? Pretty surprising stuff. Taleia Moton scored 21 points and Janaa Pickard added 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Patriots, who were outscored 38-18 in the second half.

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