Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday's recap: Pickard dominates for George Mason

Yes, we too were blown away by the 21-point, 21-rebound performance - both career highs - turned in by George Mason's Janaa Pickard in the Patriots' 82-64 victory over Utah Valley Thursday night.

Turns out it was even better than we realized.Consider:

- The 21 rebounds were the most ever by any George Mason player at the Patriot Center, the building the team has called home since 1985. The previous high was 18 by Gretchen Lacey against Fairfield in 1995.

- It was the second-most rebounds by any player in a game this season. Pacific's Kendall Kenyon grabbed 24 boards in her team's season opener.

- Pickard's 12 offensive boards were the most by any player in a game this season.

- In shooting 9 of 15 from the field and 3 of 3 from the line, recording 4 assists, blocking a shot and not making a turnover, Pickard was as efficient as she was productive. In fact, her efficiency score of plus-37 was one of the 10 best by any Division I player this season, and the best so far by any D-I  player in Virginia. The five best in these parts:

1. Pickard - plus-37

2. JMU's Kirby Burkholder vs. Liberty - plus-32

3. Radford's Ayana Avery vs. Emory and Henry - plus-29

3. Virginia Tech's Taijah Campbell vs. Old Dominion - plus-29

5. VCU's Robyn Parks vs. Ohio State - plus-29

By the way, Pickard was part of our Elite 25 series on the best returning players in the state, so we knew she could play. But 21 and 21?

Heck of a show, Janaa. And a tip of the cap to Taylor Brown (17 points) and Kyana Jacobs (15) for their roles in helping the Patriots (2-1) capture their home opener.

Also Thursday:

Virginia Tech 71, Florida 59

First of all, it's pretty impressive to beat Florida in anything, isn't it?

Fortunately the story here isn't about how the Hokies blew a 28-point second-half lead, as the Gators cut 24 points off Tech's advantage until the home team regained control down the stretch. As a result, we're free to focus on the breakout performance of rookie guard Vanessa Panousis (a game-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting), who had contributed just 16 points in her first two games combined. Gators coach Amanda Butler certainly was impressed - and surprised.

"She clearly outplayed anything we had seen on film of her," Butler said. "She did a fantastic job of setting the tone for their team and versus our point guards which is something I'm very disappointed in. You have to give her credit. She was aggressive, she was attacking and was making plays for her team. She handled our pressure much more like a veteran than a freshman."

Led by the play of Panousis, the Hokies now find themselves not only 3-0, but an entertaining 3-0. Frankly, watching the Hokies play in recent years had been something you'd often find yourself wincing through, particularly when Tech had the ball. But these guys aren't just beating folks, they're lighting up the scoreboard (relatively speaking) as they do so. And offense sells tickets, right?

Get your popcorn ready, Tech fans. (Click here to read about Tech's victory over Old Dominion on Monday).

Ohio State 83, VCU 71

The Rams lost by 38 points when these teams met in Columbus last year. This time, the "Fury" folks made the Buckeyes work for it and were within five before a disastrous final 1:20 let the home team off the hook. Still, VCU fans should be pretty encouraged. Given how the rest of the non-conference schedule has been shaped, this team has a chance to win a bunch of games over the new few weeks with more efforts like Thursday's.

Upcoming games

Friday, November 15

Radford at Norfolk State, 6 p.m.

William and Mary at East Carolina, 7 p.m.

Saturday, November 16

Louisiana Tech at Virginia, 2 p.m.

Southern Miss at Hampton, 2 p.m.

Utah Valley at Longwood, 2 p.m.

Sunday, November 17

Radford at Old Dominion, 2 p.m.

Bucknell at Virginia Tech, 2 p.m.

UAB at Richmond, 2 p.m.

Elon at VCU, 2 p.m.

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