Friday, February 24, 2012

JMU clinches CAA No. 2 seed; VCU prevails; ODU, Mason, W&M and VaTech fall

Thursday's results

James Madison 80, Hofstra 61
Star turns: Not sure if JMU's seniors took Sunday's surprising loss to Northeastern the hardest, but it's probably not a coincidence that two Dukes playing their final season, Lauren Whitehurst and Kiara Francsico, led Thursday's emphatic answer to that defeat. Whitehurst excelled in the first half and finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. And Francisco went off after intermission and finished with a career high-tying 20 points.
Deja vu?  On January 19, the Dukes won at Hofstra 81-63. Something about this matchup clearly brings out the best in JMU.
What it means: The Dukes (21-6, 12-4) clinched the No. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament, delaying a potential matchup with high-flying Delaware until the final. Meanwhile, Hofstra (18-9, 10-6) fell into a three-way tie for third with UNC Wilmington and Drexel. At least one of those teams will wind up having to play a first-round game when the tournament commences in two weeks. Maybe two, if VCU has its way.

VCU 73, Georgia State 61:
Star turn: Courtney Hurt went for 31 points - the fourth time this season she's scored 30 or more - and had 22 in the second half as the Rams rallied from a 12-point deficit. Hurt, who began play averaging a Division I-leading 13.1 rebounds per game, hauled down "only" six rebounds against the Panthers. But given that she was so busy carrying the Ram offense, we're cutting Courtney some slack for those extra boards.
Unsung hero: Freshman forward Aprill McRae helped make up for a relatively quiet scoring night from Andrea Barbour (8 points) by contributing 12 points and 5 rebounds. In fairness to Barbour, she wasn't just running around out there as she facilitated offense for others and finished with 6 assists.
Tale of two halves: The Rams shot 37 percent in the first half; 57 percent in the second.
What it means: The Rams (16-11, 9-7) kept themselves in the mix for a tournament first-round bye, moving to within a game of the three third-place teams. Georgia State (7-20, 1-15) lost its sixth straight.

Northeastern 78, Old Dominion 66
Star turn: Reigning CAA Player of the Week Deanna Kerkof scored 24 points and hit 6 of the Huskies' 11 3-pointers. Kerkhof was coming off a 23-point performance in Sunday's 61-50 decision over JMU.
The turning point: Jewel Tunstull's layup with 6:28 left in the second half snapped a 57-57 tie and triggered a 10-0 Northeastern run.
Youth is served: On a tough night for some of ODU's starters, freshmen Myeisha Hall (a career-high 20 points) and Tiffany Minor (10 points, 5 rebounds) came up big to help the Lady Monarchs stay in it. ODU's bench outscored Northeastern's 42-5. Of course, the other side of that is Northeastern's starters outscored ODU's 73-24.
Move over, Adrienne: ODU's Tia Lewis (12 points, 10 rebounds) passed Lady Monarchs assistant Adrienne Goodson for 11th place on the program's all-time scoring list. Lewis now has 1,578 career points.
What it means: The loss was ODU's third straight, all at home, and left the Lady Monarchs (9-19, 6-10) in 9th place, one game ahead of Northeastern (7-20, 5-11). The Huskies have won three straight.

No. 9 Delaware 71, George Mason 53
Star turn: After struggling through a 4-for-19, 12-point effort in Sunday's one-point win at Drexel, Elena Delle Donne scored 22 of her 28 points in the first half and added 11 rebounds as the Blue Hens (25-1, 16-0) won their 15th straight game.
Keeping 'em at bay: The Blue Hens scored 15 of the first 19 points and maintained a double-digit lead from the 10:04 mark of the first half through the rest of the game.
She's No. 1: Patriots star Taleia Moton, who led Mason with 18 points, set the program record for most points in a season. Moton currently has 565 points; the previous high was 549 by Keri Chaconas during the 1995-96 season.
They're No. 1: The Division I leaders in free throw percentage, Delaware made 16 of 18 from the line against the Patriots.
What it means: Delle Donne's shooting slump lasted all of one game. As for the Patriots, they lost for the third time in four games. More importantly, their overall record (13-14, 7-9) slid below .500, and only teams that have won at least half their games can accept at-large bids to the WNIT.

Drexel 72, William and Mary 43
Star turn: Kamile Nacickaite scored 21 points to lead four Dragons in double figures
Bad matchup: The 29-point spread marked the Tribe's largest margin of defeat this season. When the teams met two weeks ago in Williamsburg, the Tribe lost by 19, their third-largest margin of defeat of the season.
Heat check: Why did William and Mary shoot 52.4 percent in the first half yet still go into the break down by 20? Because Drexel shot 61.3 percent over that same span.
It didn't help that...: William and Mary committed 24 turnovers, which led to 28 Drexel points.
What it means: Drexel (14-12, 10-6) moved into a three-way tie for third place with Hofstra and UNC Wilmington. If the season ended today, the Dragons would own the No. 4 seed. As for the Tribe (10-17, 3-13), we still maintain this team is better than its results. Ultimately, though, you are what your record says you are. So for all this team's apparent talent, the record says William and Mary is the 11th-place team in a 12-team league.

No. 17 Georgia Tech 76, Virginia Tech 66
Star turn: Sasha Goodlett had 18 points and 8 rebounds as the Yellow Jackets (21-7, 11-4) held off the undermanned but determined Hokies.
The few, the proud...: Tech essentially played with six players (a seventh, freshman Larryqua Hall, logged 5 minutes). Four of them scored in double figures led by Aerial Wilson with 21. Also, Alyssa Fenyn marked her 21st birthday with a 13-point, 5-assist performance. Overall, the Hokies (7-21, 3-12) shot a season-high 46.2 percent from the field.
She said it: "I give Virginia Tech a lot of credit. I think they played with a lot of heart, energy and desire. It's very easy this time of year to give up a little bit. But I really felt like they showed a lot of fight and determination, especially in the second half." - Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph.

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