Monday, February 25, 2013

ODU routs Hofstra, improves WNIT chances

Shae Kelley
OK, coaches. Remember back in October when you told us you were gearing your teams to peak at the end of the season? Well, here we are. Show of hands - how many of you can honestly say your team is doing that right now?

Hmmm, don't see many hands...wait, there's one, attached to a point guard-sized woman who is jumping up and down....

Karen Barefoot, is that you?

Sure is. And it would be tough to argue with her after Old Dominion's 80-57 Senior Day dismantling of Hofstra Sunday at the Constant Center, a game the Lady Monarchs coach agreed was her team's best performance of the season.

"I would say so. As far as our overall team performance, yeah," Barefoot said after the Lady Monarchs carved up a Hofstra team that had handled them relatively easily earlier this year in New York. "This was a really talented team we just played, and we made them play bad."

Superlatives abounded for the Lady Monarchs Sunday, but what really stood out to us is how efficiently ODU burned the Pride in the halfcourt. Crisp passing continually led to easy layups or wide-open perimeter shots. Everyone got into the act, too - all but one of the 10 Lady Monarchs to see action had at least one of the team's 19 assists.

The Lady Monarchs led by 17 at halftime and by as much as 25 midway through the second half. The beating was so thorough that with 5:30 left, Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn Steveskey said "uncle" and finished the game with five freshmen.

The loss was potentially devastating to the postseason hopes of the Pride, who also faded badly down the stretch in 2011-12. With a 12-14 overall record and nationally ranked Delaware next on the schedule, Hofstra is facing a scenario in which they may have to reach the CAA final just to have the requisite .500 record to accept a WNIT bid.

ODU's WNIT outlook is considerably brighter. Last week we wrote that, based on the WNIT's history of awarding bids, the Lady Monarchs had likely already done enough to earn a nod. The victory over Hofstra cinches it, in our opinion. Tough road games at JMU and Northeastern await. But with ODU playing its best ball of the season, the Lady Monarchs may not be done polishing up that resume yet.

Finally, we often get so caught up in making our point we look back at a post and notice we haven't mentioned a single player. And guess what? We did it again. So, here are a few quick player hits:

Ashley Betz-White: Strong performance on defense - as always - and on the ball, easily her best since her recent bout with concussion symptoms. Took a nasty spill in the second half and banged her head against the scorer's table wall, but laughed it off after the game while indicating everything's cool in the ol' noggin.

Jackie Cook: Talk about finishing strong - Cook is averaging 19.7 ppg over her last three games and has scored at least 17 in each contest. Prior to this stretch, Cook hadn't scored more than 16 in any game since before Christmas (25 vs. Alabama A&M on Dec. 21).

Shae Kelley: Continuing her strong push for All-CAA honors - as evidenced by her Co-CAA Player of the Week nod. Oh, and she's also made 10 of her last 14 free throws over the last two games.

Becca Allison: Lightning-fast guard tied a season high with 14 points. Also showed toughness in bouncing back from a hard first-half foul while streaking in for a layup. Barefoot was livid, apparently over the lack of a flagrant foul call, and had to be restrained from heading onto the court. For what it's worth, a still photo of the play shows the Hofstra defender did get one hand squarely on the ball - and the other on Allison.

Chelisa Painter: Fierce shoes!

Shakeva Richards: Modest numbers - 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists - barely hint at the pivotal role Richards played defensively and on the boards as part of the unit that helped the Lady Monarchs break things open in the first half.

Mairi Buchan: Seems to be playing with a lot of confidence. Making quick, decisive moves upon receiving the ball.

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