Saturday, January 7, 2017

Big shots: Saturday's top stars

The three brightest stars in Saturday's games and a brief look at Sunday's contests:

3. Ashley Jackson, Old Dominion

Typically a player who takes care of the "little things," Jackson stepped into the spotlight Saturday with a career-high 17 points in a 67-62 loss to Western Kentucky. How unusual was this output? Prior to Saturday, the 5-9 junior had appeared in 79 college games. Only twice had she cracked double figures in scoring, notching 11 points each time. Saturday's performance was another positive step in what's been a breakout season for Jackson, who transformed her body and mindset last summer and has gone from spare part to key contributor. Now, we're not expecting 17 points from Jackson every night. But prior to Saturday, we didn't expect 17 points from Jackson ANY night.

2. Jayda Worthy, Radford

The 6-0 junior forward delivered 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists in the Highlanders' somewhat tougher-than-expected 60-50 victory at Winthrop. It's the third straight game in which Worthy has been both highly productive and efficient. She's averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds over her last three and has made 18 of her 25 shots over that span.

1. Keyen Green, Liberty

A two-time Big South Freshman of the Week, Green tossed her hat into the ring for league PLAYER of the week honors with a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds in Liberty's 81-74 victory over High Point. The 6-1 forward from Philadelphia made 10 of her 15 field goals attempts and 6 of her 8 free throws. In addition, seven of her rebounds came on the offensive end. Green now has three straight double-doubles and five on the season. And her 26 points were the most by a Liberty freshman since Devon Brown also rung up 26 on High Point on Jan. 30, 2010.

Saturday's results

Fordham 53, George Mason 49
UNC Asheville 80, Longwood 53
Radford 60, Winthrop 50
Western Kentucky 67, Old Dominion 62
Liberty 81, High Point 74

Sunday's games

St. Bonaventure (6-9, 1-2 Atlantic 10) at Richmond (7-8, 1-1), noon

Game was originally scheduled for Saturday but was pushed back a day because of the inclement weather. After back-to-back strong shooting performances in victories over Morgan State and St. Joseph's, the Spiders once again struggled to get shots to go down (31.1 percent FG) in Thursday's 61-55 loss at VCU. It's the fifth time the Spiders have shot 31 percent or less this season. Not surprisingly, Richmond is 0-5 when this happens - most teams would be.

Saint Louis (12-3, 2-0 Atlantic 10) at VCU (9-7, 2-1), 1 p.m.

Another weather-delayed game originally set for Saturday. After outdueling crosstown rival Richmond Thursday night, the Rams must now gear up for hottest team in the A-10. The Billikens have won five straight, a streak that includes victories over Washington State and Missouri, and have rolled in their two conference games by 37 and 39 points. A Rams win here would send a powerful message throughout the A-10.

Virginia (11-4, 0-2 ACC) at North Carolina (11-4, 0-2), 2 p.m.

After a pair of near-misses against quality teams (at Syracuse, Louisville), the Cavaliers will try for their first ACC win against yet another team that is good at forcing turnovers (19.6 per game). Virginia coughed the ball up a combined 43 times in their first two league games.

Virginia Tech (14-0, 1-0 ACC) at Clemson (11-4, 0-2), 2 p.m.

The Hokies are obviously playing well and are well-rested - last game was Monday - heading to a place where on paper they should have success. It would a sign of maturity for the Hokies to ignore perception and perform to their normal standard in this spot. That said, any conference road game presents challenges, and this will only be Tech's fourth road game of the season and first since Dec. 18.

JMU (9-4, 2-0 CAA) at Towson (7-6, 0-2), 2 p.m.

Quick turnaround for the Dukes, who pounded Hofstra by 36 points Friday night for their 22nd straight win against CAA opponents. Towson has tended to play JMU tough at home in recent years, though,

Note: The Hofstra at William and Mary game that was set for Sunday has been postponed. The makeup date has yet to be announced.

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