Monday, November 23, 2015

What's on tap tonight (Nov. 23)

Liberty at JMU, 7 p.m.

Both teams will be looking to shake off disappointing efforts on Friday. The Lady Flames (2-1) couldn’t capitalize on a rare home opportunity against N.C. State and fell by eight. Later that evening, the Dukes (2-1) suffered through a disastrous first half and lost by 29 at UCLA.

Liberty and JMU will also be out to continue their habit of having their way with in-state opponents. The Dukes have won 17 straight games against teams from Virginia since a 60-48 home loss to Liberty on Dec. 4, 2012. The streak includes six victories over William and Mary, two apiece against Old Dominion, George Mason and Richmond and single wins over Longwood, Hampton, Virginia, Liberty and Norfolk State.

Ironically, prior to the 17-game streak the Dukes had lost three straight to Virginia teams in less than a month. JMU opened the 2012-13 season by losing to Virginia, then fell to Richmond two days before losing to Liberty.

The Lady Flames, meanwhile, have won 10 straight against Commonwealth opponents since a 61-60 home setback to Virginia on Nov. 19, 2013. Liberty's streak features four wins each against Radford and Longwood and single triumphs over VCU and Richmond.

East Tennessee State at Old Dominion, 7 p.m.

ETSU has gotten big production out of star guard Shamauria Bridges, who is coming off a career-high 30-point effort and has notched at least 20 in three straight. But the Bucs (2-2) may again be without preseason All-Southern Conference point guard Tianna Tarter, who has missed ETSU’s last three games (one media report says she suffered a “severe concussion”). The Bucs are also averaging 21 turnovers per game, a stat that suggests this could be a good matchup for a Lady Monarchs team that at this stage of the season needs aggressive, opportunistic defense to fuel its offense. Last week ODU (1-2) managed just three steals and forced only 12 turnovers against Miami, a key reason why the offense generated just 35 points.

William and Mary at Loyola (Md.), 7 p.m.

Something about (William and) Mary and close games…. Last year, the Tribe opened and closed their season with one-point results and had four overtime games in between. This year, they began play with a two-point win at Mount St. Mary’s and are coming off a six-point loss to Richmond. The last time these teams met, in the 2014-15 season opener, Latrice Hunter’s layup with four seconds left boosted the Tribe to a 72-71 victory. Suffice to say we’re expecting another close game tonight – that’s all this Tribe (2-1) seems to play.

The Greyhounds (2-2), who are coming off Saturday’s 75-67 victory over Norfolk State, have been led by sophomore guard Bri Betz-White, the younger sister of former Old Dominion standout Ashley Betz-White. Bri smoked Norfolk State for 19 points and leads the Greyhounds on the season with 15.8 ppg.

UNC Wilmington at Richmond, 7 p.m.

The Spiders (3-0) will play their fourth straight home game against a hard-luck Seahawks bunch that is already down to just eight players - and only two taller than 5-9. The group is also pretty much untested as this will be just the second game of the season for UNCW and the first against a Division I team.

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