December 23, 2007

STANFORD FINALLY BEATS TENNESSEE

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Of all the players to have the potential to put the nail in the coffin of Tennessee's 16-game winning streak, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude wouldn't be the first player to come to mind.

But in a thrilling 73-69 Stanford (10-1) overtime victory over visitng No. 1 Tennessee (10-1) Saturday night, Gold-Onwude was the difference maker in the final seconds.

The sophomore guard hit a 3-pointer to give the Cardnial a two-point lead in overtime, and then cealed the win by hitting two free thows with five seconds left to give Stanford it first win over Tennessee in 11 tries.

"This is obviously a really big win for our program and our team," Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer said. "I think our defense and rebounding, something Tennessee is known for, was the key tonight."

Gold-Onwude had to hurry out of Maples Pavillion so she could catch a flight back home to Queens, New York for Christmas, so she was unavailable for comment.

Although, Gold-Onwude backcourt partner, Candice Wiggins, was as happy as anyone after the game.

"It took four years to beat them but it does feel good to beat the No. 1 team in the country," Wiggins said.

Wiggins finished with a team-high 22 points, but missed two critical free throws at the end of regulation that allowed Candace Parker to make a shot that brought the game into overtime.

"I blame (those missed free throws) on me," Wiggins said. "But our team tightened up on defense and continued to fight and that got us teh victory."

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said that the Vols will learn from this loss and get better because of it.

"You always learn more from a loss than a win," Summitt said. "We didn't play hard for 40 minutes and they did and it hurt us."

NOTES: Jayne Appel scored 19 points and Gold-Onwude finished with 13 points in the win...Candace Parker had played 42 minutes and led all scorers with 22 points...Tennessee had 24 fouls in the game, while Stanford had 13.

Player of the Game: Candice Wiggins missed some key free throws, but when Stanford needed a bucket Wiggins more times than not came thorugh.

Play of the Game: Stanford was down one with 53 seconds left and Rosalyn-Gold nailed a deep 3-pointer to give Stanford the lead. Tennessee would never lead after that.

Quote of the Game: An easy choice from Tara Vanderveer, "Today, Candice is spelled with an I."


STANFORD PULLS IT OUT

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The crowd is still here waving its towels and going crazy and they have every right to do so. The Cardnial held on for a 73-69 win over No. 1 Tennessee in one of the best women's basketball games of the year.

Tennessee had the ball down two and everyone expected Parker to take the game-tying or game-winning shot, but instead she kicked the ball to the arc, and after a couple of passes Shannon Bobbit lost the ball and Rosalyn Gold-Onwude hit two free throws to ice the game.

Stay tuned for reaction to the game.

TENNESSEE UP ONE

PALO ALTO, Calif - Jayne Apepel (who has otherwise been exceptional tonight) misses a layup and going the other way Alexis Hornbuckle misses a layup which would have put Tennessee up three.

Stanford is down one, with the ball with 1:35 left.

PARKER COMES THROUGH, GOING TO OVERTIME

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Candice Wiggins was at the line with a chance to ice the game, but she missed both of her free throws (she was 10-12 from the line before those misses).

Candace Parker then grabbed the rebound, took it herself, and from seven feet out bounced home the game tying shot.

Stanford couldn't get a shot off and you could literally hear the air go out of the Cardnial fans.

Five more minutes (at least), and the Vol are in serious foul trouble (they are already without Anosike).

STANFORD UP TWO WITH THE BALL, 22.6 left

PALO ALTO, Calif - Wiggens got a steal and made two free throws to put the Cardnial up four but Parker came right back down and drove to the hols to close the deficit to two, at 63-61.

Stanford looks in good shape, but Tennessee's 16-game winning streak isn't over yet.

CANDICE PUTS STANFORD ON TOP, FOR NOW

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The "Go Stanford" chant is rattling throughout Maples after Candice Wiggins made ajumper from the free throw line with 44.4 seconds left to put Stanford up 61-59.

Now is it Candace's turn?

OH MY, ALL TIED WITH 1:32 LEFT.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Candice Wiggins just made two free throws to give her 17 for the game and tie the game at 59.

Tennessee has three players on the court with four fouls and Maples is shaking.

BOBBITT SILENCES CROWD

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Shannon Bobbit hadn't made a 3-pointer all game, but she just sunk one to put the Vols back on top at 58-56.

Parker just made a free throw to put Tennessee up 59-56.

Stanford hasn't made a shot from the field since the 6:30 mark.

THIS JUST IN: SUMMITT IS SMART

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Alexis Hornbuckle picked up her fourth personal foul with 5:30 left, but Summitt kept her in and on the next Tennessee possesion the senior sunk a 3-pointer to make 54-53 Stanford.

It's now 56-53 Cardnial at the last T.V. timeout with 3:45 left. Here we go.....

December 22, 2007

WHEN WILL PARKER TAKE OVER?

PALO ALTO, Calif. - You can almost feel it coming.

Parker is having a good game, with 16 points, but she by no means looks like the greatest women's college basketball player ever tonight. Although, she just might in the final 7 minutes, 16 seconds.

The Vols have stuggled shooting the ball in the second half, going 5-20 from the floor. The Vols went 15-27 in the first half.

The two team are trading baskets, and Stanford now leads 53-48 with 6:04 left.

ANOSIKE PICKS UP FOURTH FOUL

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Wiggins hits two free throws to make 47-45 Stanford, but what might hurt more for Vol fans is that Nicky Anosike will have to sit for much of the rest of game with four fouls.

Tennessee's Hornbuckle and Bjorklund will have to be careful because they have three fouls each.

There is 8:16 left and it is still 47-45.

STANFORD UP TWO

PALO ALTO, Calif - Jayne Apple is holding her own with Tennessee's trees inside, scoring 14 points, which included the last basket which put the Cardnial up 43-41.

As I type Stanford made a couple of free throws to make it 45-41 and the Vols need to be careful that this game doesn't get away from them.

Stanford has outscored Tennessee 18-10 in the second half.

The final 10 minutes should be a danzy.

IT'S WIGGINS TIME

PALO ATLO, Calif. - After a poor first half, Wiggins has scored seven points so far in the second half and Stanford has taken its first lead at 39-38 at the 14:00 mark.

Maples is finally rocking and Tennessee looks flustered.

STANFORD GETS CLOSER, VOLS IN FOUL TROUBLE

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Wiggins scores a layup and is fouled, to make it 33-30 TENN . Seconds earlier Alexis Hornbuckle picked up third personal foul.

Right now, Candace Parker has two fouls and Angie Bjorklund is with Hornbuckle with three fouls.

The crowd is starting to show some more life and Standord is only down four, at 38-34 with 15:21 left.

STANFORD STAYS CLOSE

PALO ALTO, Calif - Stanford scored the last five points of the first half to clse the deficit to six, at 33-27.

The Cardnial's Rosalyn Gold-Onwude got her only points of the half in the final minute, when she got a steal and layed it in.

Overall, it was (and I know this is a shock) the Candace Parker show in the first half, leading all scorers with 10 points. On the other hand, Candice Wiggins had six points, but went 1-4 from behind the arc. It goes without saying she will have to do better in the second half if Stanford is going to pull off the upset.

The Black Eyed Peas song, "Let's Get it Started" is playing in Maples and that is what Stanford needs.

VOLS UP DOUBLE DIGITS

PALO ALTO, Calif - Candice Wiggins hit her first 3-pointer of the game and the crowd started twirling its towels, but Tennessee keeps getting inside and making baskets.

Parker is queitly having a good half, with 10 points (5-8 from the field) and Tennessee leads 33-22 with 1:30 left in the half.

TENNESSEE CAN'T MISS

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The Vols are shooting 68 percent (11-16) to start the game and hold a 23-17 lead.

The crowd (which is 90-10 Stanford fans) has been a non-factorm - this is by no means a hostile environment.

But what should really scare Cardnial fans is that Wiggins only has two points in the first 14 minutes.

TRYING TO CONTAIN CANDACE

PALO ALTO, Calif. - At the second T.V. timeout, thanks to seven points from Alexis Hornbuckle the Vols lead 13-9.

It seems clear that the strategy Stanford has to stop Parker is to not let her get the ball in the first place. The Cardnial are putting their two big women, Jayne Appel and Kayla Pederson, on her to try and deny the ball. So far Parker has four points. Scratch that, she just made one to make it six :).

Stanford is shoot 4-12 from the field, and that clearly won't cut it.

Update as I type: Tennessee 17, Stanford 11

NOT PRETTY BUT EXCITING

PALO ALTO, Calif. - There were seven turnovers and the two teams have combined to go 5-15 from the field in the first five minutes, but it sure has been up and down basketball.

Alexis Hornbuckley has scored four points to lead Tennessee to an early 6-4 lead.

GAME TIME

PALO ALTO, Calif - The national anthem has been sung and Maples is filled to capacity.

You know it's a big sporting event when the athletic department hands out "Rally Towels." It also makes it easy to see where the Tennessee fans are because they are the only people not slinging around thier towel like a helicopter.

The atmosphere here is a little different than a regular Stanford game. Usually students are packed in by the floor, but with it being Christmans break, they got old people by the floor instead (not that there is anything wrong with old people).

Anyway, here we go...

MAPLES IS FILLING UP

PALO ALTO, Calif - We are still 25 minutes before tip-off, but Maples Pavillion is filling up with Cardnial red and Rocky Top orange.

Candace Parker might be on the opposing team for a majority of fans, but it didn't stop some teenage girls from yelling, "Candace we love you," during pregame warmups.

What will be interesting is to see is if Parker will matchup against the other Candice (Wiggins) on defense. Something to look for.

AN EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT: TENNESSEE VS. STANFORD

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The best of the West will go up against the best in the South Saturday in what has the potential to be an absolute classic at The Farm.

Two of college basketball's best players, two of college basketball's best coaches, and two of the most storied programs of all college sports will meet when No. 1 Tennessee (10-0) goes up against No. 4 Stanford (9-1) at 7:30 p.m. PST.

There will be 10 players on the court come tip-off, but most of the eyes at Maples Pavillion, and on couches around the county, will be on Candace and Candice.

Most everybody by now knows Candace Parker. The 6-foot-4 guard, forward and center on Tennessee, which many consider to be the best women's college basketball player ever.

It would have been understandable if Parker took it easy after winning a national championship or looked ahead to a lucrative career in the WNBA, but instead Parker seems as focused as ever, averaging 22.3 ppg and 9.2 rpg.

Parker has gone up against the Cardnial a couple times in her college career, and it hasn't been pretty Stanford fans. Not only has Stanford not win, but in the last two meeting Parkers has combined for 46 points and 21 rebounds.

Candice Wiggins, Stanford's star senior guard, had been plenty impressive herself this year. Wiggins, who has played with Parker in international competitions with USA basketball, is doing more than holding her own, averaging 17.8 ppg and 4.0 rpg.

In what seemed to be a warning to Tennessee, last Sunday against No. 10 Baylor Wiggins scored 35 points, had four steals, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. In other words, she had a game that would have even made Parker proud.

Although Candace and Candice will be getting the most air time, the two hall of famers will be on the bench.

It's not too often in any sport when a coach with 957 career wins goes up against a coach with 698 career wins. But that is sitsuation with Pat Summit (she has 957) faces Tara VanDerveer (if only Stanford didn't lose to UCONN and VanDerveer could have had a chance to pick up N0. 700 against Tennessee).

Summit has dominated the rivalry, winning the last 11 meetings.

December 16, 2007

No signs of rust for Lady Tigers

RUSTON, La. - Right now, No. 8 LSU is probably wishing it had more 14-day layoffs in a season.

Before Sunday afternoon, LSU last saw game action Dec. 2 against Tulane. Two weeks of practice and game film proved to be a winning formula for the Lady Tigers on Sunday as they defeated Louisiana Tech, 76-45, at the Thomas Assembly Center.

LSU's offense was as consistent as it could have been Sunday. The Lady Tigers hit 16 of their 32 shot attempts in the first half.

After intermission, LSU (7-2) once again connected on 16 of its 32 attempts.

"Being off 14 days, I thought we were as good offensively as we've been all year," said LSU coach Van Chancellor.

While LSU's offense was efficient, it was the Lady Tigers' defense that impressed Louisiana Tech coach Chris Long the most.

Following the game, Long called LSU the best defensive team in the nation.

"They're better than we are," he said. "There's no doubt about that."

The Lady Techsters (4-6), who concluded their four-game home stand with an 0-4 record, shot 27 percent from the field in the game and 21 percent in the second half.

LSU center Sylvia Fowles had a large hand in making sure Louisiana Tech concluded its home stretch winless. Fowles led all scorers with 16 points and tied a team high with eight rebounds.

"She had her normal, every day at the office in 25 minutues," Chancellor said.

Long praised Fowles performance as well.

"She's the strongest player in the United States," he said.

Various taunts and jeers from students were directed toward Fowles throughout the course of the game. She ignored them for the most part, but late in the first half a particular insult from a courtside spectator prompted her to place a finger over her mouth after sinking two free throws -- a gesture instructing the student to be quiet.

"After that, I was good," she said. "It doesn't phase me."

LSU began the game hitting eight of its first nine shots. That hot shooting cooled quickly but was more than enough for the Lady Tigers to notch their seventh victory of the season.

Long said LSU's experience also played a large role in the outcome of the game.

"They've got nine seniors," he said. "You make a mistake. They'll make you pay for it."

Forward Ashley Thomas added 10 points for LSU, and reserve guard Marian Whitfield came off the bench to score a career-high 10 points.

Guard Tiawanna Pringle led Louisiana Tech with 12 points, while JoKeirra Sneed Shanavia Dowdell each had 10.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sylvia Fowles ... The 6-foot-6-inch center asserted herself in the low post early and often. Whenever she got the ball in good position, positive things happened for LSU.

NEXT UP: LSU will bus to Houston on Sunday evening to fly to Cancun, Mexico for the Caribbean Classic later this week. The Lady Tigers will face Illinois-Chicago this Tuesday and Miami on Wednesday ... Louisiana Tech will hit the road Thursday for the first time since Dec. 5. The Lady Techsters will travel to face Arkansas-Little Rock.

Lady Tigers cruise to victory

RUSTON, La. - No. 8 LSU had no problem with Louisiana Tech on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Lady Techsters on the road, 76-45.

Center Sylvia Fowles led all scorers with 16 points and also pulled down eight rebounds. Check back later for postgame analysis and quotes.

Crowd slowly vacating

RUSTON, La. - Fans in the Thomas Assembly Center are beginning to head for the exits as LSU holds a 72-41 advantage with 2:30 remaining in the game.

The Lady Techsters put up a good fight but were clearly overmatched in terms of talent and preparation.

A loss would be Louisiana Tech's fourth in a row at home.

Reserves begin to see action

RUSTON, La. - LSU coach Van Chancellor has begun to rest his key players on the way to what is most likely the Lady Tigers' seventh win of the season.

With 7:47 left in the game, four of LSU's five starters are on the bench. Only guard Quianna Chaney is still on the court.

The Lady Tigers lead the Lady Techsters, 62-33.

It's getting ugly

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech's shooting woes have continued in the second half, and LSU has opened up a 56-30 lead with 12:00 remaining in the game.

LSU is outrebounding Louisiana Tech, 30-27, and also has eight steals compared to the Lady Techsters' zero.

Lady Tigers' forward Ashley Thomas appears to be on pace for a season high in points. Thomas currently has 10. Her 2007-2008 high of 11 points came against Houston on Nov. 29.

Mid-range game

RUSTON, La. - LSU's first three field-goal attempts after the break have been mid-range jumpers.

All three of those attempts were converted. LSU has pushed its lead to 46-23 early in the second half and forced Louisiana Tech to use a timeout two minutes into the half.

LSU sharp on both ends

RUSTON, La. - No. 8 LSU is clicking on all cylinders in the first half against Louisiana Tech.

The Lady Tigers hit 50 percent of their shots in the first half and started the game 8-of-9. They hold a 40-22 lead over Louisiana Tech at halftime.

LSU's 14-day layoff between games has not been a problem so far. All five starters played at least 15 minutes in the first half. Key reserve Allison Hightower was limited to only six minutes of action after picking up her second foul with 5:52 left in the half.

As usual, center Sylvia Fowles is leading the way for LSU with 12 points, three rebounds and two blocks.

Guard RaShonta LeBlanc added seven points in the first half to go along with six assists and four steals.

Louisiana Tech's Tiawanna Pringle, who entered the game averaging 6.7 points per contest, leads her team with 10 points and three rebounds.

The Lady Tigers' defense has forced 14 turnovers out of the Lady Techsters and held them to 33 percent shooting. LSU closed the half on a 14-2 run.

Expect LSU to continue to establish Sylvia Fowles in the low post. Fowles has nine shot attempts, and all of them have been layups or hook shots in close proximity to the basket.

Lady Tigers defense impressive

RUSTON, La. - The Lady Techsters started the game 3-of-6 from the field, but have since connected on only five of their 16 shot attempts.

Turnovers are also hurting Louisiana Tech. The Lady Techsters have committed 12 in the first 17:30 of the game. LSU is holding a comfortable 14-point lead with a little more than two minutes left in the half.

Putting up a fight

RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech put together a quick 8-0 run after the first media timeout to close LSU's lead to three points.

But since then, the Lady Tigers have found their hot shooting touch again and pushed their lead to 26-17 with 7:49 left in the first half.

LSu has tried to establish Sylvia Fowles in the low post early in the game. Fowles has six points so far but has missed four of her last five shot attempts.

Louisiana Tech's Tiawanna Pringle leads all scorers with 10 points.

Lady Tigers on fire early

RUSTON, La. - It appears the LSU-Louisiana Tech game may be in the early stages of a blowout.

The Lady Tigers have hit eight of their first nine shots and have jumped out to a 17-8 lead with a little less than 15 minutes left in the first half.

Louisiana Tech has hit 50 percent of its shots but has been unable to slow down LSU so far.

Lady Tigers battle Lady Techsters in Ruston

RUSTON, La. - It's been 14 days since No. 8 LSU has taken the basketball court in a non-practice situation.

The Lady Tigers have had a two-week hiatus since their 52-36 victory at Tulane on Dec. 2. In that span, LSU has shifted its attention toward final exams and away from offensive and defensive sets.

LSU (6-2) returns to action today on the road against Louisiana Tech (4-5) at 2 p.m.

LSU coach Van Chancellor said earlier this week the long layoff is not a concern for his team.

"We have had a solid couple weeks of practice, and this team is ready to play," Chancellor said. " We know that Louisiana Tech will also be ready to play. Anytime you have a rivalry like this, you can throw out the records. We will have to go up there and play well."

Today's contest will be LSU's first trip to Ruston since February 1991. It will be the 21st meeting between the two schools. Louisiana Tech holds a 12-8 advantage in the series, but LSU has won the past two meetings.

The Lady Techsters have had a rough stretch recently, losing three straight home games. One of those losses was a 21-point defeat at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe.

“We are working on getting better," Louisiana Tech coach Chris Long said in a news release. "We have addressed some of those issues with a couple of hard practices and, without a doubt, we are going to be a good team before this year is over. Right now we are struggling, but we are going to find answers and we are going to find them through hard work.”

If the Lady Techsters want to pull off the upset against the Lady Tigers, they'll have to at least contain LSU senior center Sylvia Fowles.

Fowles enters the game No. 2 in the SEC in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game. She is also No. 5 in the conference in rebounding, pulling down 9.9 boards per game.

Louisiana Tech will also have to find a way to muster consistent offense against one of the best defensive teams in the country. LSU leads the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 46.5 points per game. That number is a full six points better than the No. 2 team, Arkansas.

NOTES: Louisiana Tech guard Sidney Stewart could make her first appearance of the season today. She has missed the first nine games because of a knee injury she suffered on the second day of fall practice ... After the contest, LSU will travel to Houston before flying to Cancun, Mexico, for the Caribbean Classic on Dec. 18-19.

December 13, 2007

Recap: Big 12 Texas Tech beats Pac-10 Arizona State

LUBBOCK,TX--It was a tight game from the tip-off and wasn't over until 3 seconds remained on the clock as Jordan Murphree sank the last point of the game on a free throw to send the Sun Devils back to Arizona with a loss.

This game saw 13 lead changes and 12 ties.

Texas Tech, coming off a nine day lay-off and a loss to Houston prior to that, hit 42.6% of their shots from the floor, 33.3% from beyond the arc, and 57.6% from the free throw line.
The Lady Raiders were led all night by the play of Dominic Seals. Seals led the team with 20 points and eight boards, as well as going 4-of-7 from the free throw line. She also had four steals and a block.
Maria Moore couldn't find her shot tonight, but contributed by taking the charge that kept Arizona State from scoring in the last five seconds. Moore only shot 42.8% from the floor and 28.5% from the charity stripe. However she, along with Stanecia Graham, put up 14 points for the Raiders.

Arizona State fought hard to the end, but just couldn't pull it out. Dymond Simon went down with an injury late in the second half, and made an attempt to comeback, but it didn't last long. Sybil Dosty stayed in foul trouble for most of the second half and Jill Noe fouled out late in the second half, just to name a few of the Sun Devil woes. The Devils were led in points by Noe with 20 and 10 rebounds, while Simon contributed 11 before her early exit and Briann January and Lauren Lacey knocked down 10 each. ASU was out-rebounded 47-39 and out-scored in the paint, 34-26.

Tech wins in a thriller

Despite only shooting 6-14 from the floor and missing two free throws with 5 seconds left, Maria Moore may have saved the Lady Raiders from falling to the Sun Devils.

After missing two shots from the line with a one point lead and five seconds to go, Moore took the charge from Arizona State's Jill Noe to give the Raiders two more free throws and the ball back.

Raquel Christian hit one of her two shots off the technical and on the inbound Noe fouled out of the game and sent Jordan Murphree to the line. Murphree sank both shots to seal the deal for Tech and the buzzer blew on a pointless shot from Briann January, as the Raiders beat the Sun Devils in the last minute of this one, 73-69.

Tech pulls away

LUBBOCK, TX--After a timeout, Simon made her return.

An ASU turnover led to two points for Maria Moore. After Briann January knocked down two, Moore hit another big shot for the Lady Raiders.

Off a Simon miss, Ashlee Roberson got the board then dished it to Stanecia Graham in the paint for two.

Afetr two January free throws two cut the Tech lead to two, Raquel Christian also found Graham in the paint for two.
The score is now 65-61 with 3:30 left to play.

Tied up

LUBBOCK, TX--Maria Moore cannot find her shot tonight, but the rest of the Lady Raiders are keeping them in the game.

Following a miss by Moore, ASU's Kate Engelbrecht missed in the paint, but Dominic Seals grabbed her sixth board of the game, but a Moore airball gave it back to ASU.

Seals struck again with a steal. Raquel Christian then dished it to Ashlee Roberson for the game tying three with just over six minutes to play.

Simon up and around

LUBBOCK, TX--After having her left knee examined on the sideline, Dymond Simon is up and running on the Arizona State sideline. It is possible she could return.

ASU back on top

LUBBOCK, TX--After the Simon injury, a Becca Tobin steal led to a miss from Sybil Dosty. Dominc Seals got the board and dished it underneath to Myrick, who went to the line and tied it at 47.

Jill Noe dropped in a quick bucket and Seals responded with one of her own. ANd as usual Regean Pariseau made one and so did Seals.

After a Raquel Christian missed three and a hustling rebound by Jordan Murphree, Seals put it in again for her 18th point of the night.

Score: 56-53 ASU with 9:10 left to play

Simon goes down after great start to half

a2 7 pts


seals and 1 on the inbound from moore to tie and take lead with 16:15 left.
moore miss layup
a22 for 3
a11 stl; a23 miss
tt24 for 2
a21 for 2
moore off foul

It was the Dymond Simon show immediately out of half time.

Almost 6 minutes into the second half and Simon has already put up 7 points for the Lady Devils, helping them get the lead at 47-45 with 14:02 left.

But with 13:54, Simon went down grabbing her left knee and is currently being attended to by the trainers. She hopped off the court on one leg with the help of the medical staff. Simon has 11 points.

Half time at Texas Tech vs Arizona State

LUBBOCK, TX--It's halftime and a tie game.

Its been a back and forth first half between the Lady Raiders and the Lady Sun Devils. There have been four lead changes and four tied moments.

The half ended with Arizona State's Sybil Dosty grabbing the board from Jill Noe's missed three and putting it in from the paint at the buzzer.

The Lady Raiders are led in scoring by Dominic Seals with nine points, while Stanecia Graham and Raquel Christian are close behind with seven each. Senior Erin Myrick has yet to score in this one and has only made one shot attempt. Texas Tech is barely winning the battle of the boards, by out-rebounding Arizona State 23-20. Myrick and Seals each have four boards apiece. But Tech has not shot well from the free throw line; they have made 11 trips and hit five shots.

The Sun Devils are struggling to hit shots from everywhere on the floor except the free throw line. ASU is 3-of-11 from beyond the arc and 12-of-33 from the field, but have hit 83.3-percent from the charity line. Jill Noe leads the Devils with 10 points, six coming from three-point land. Briann January is second with five points, but is 1-of-4 from the three-point line.

The second half is set to begin in less than five minutes, with the teams tied, 32-32.

Tech on top

Dominic Seals is making plays for the Lady Raiders.

With the score tied at 23, Seals grabbed the board from a Jill Noe missed three then after a Tech miss, Arizona State miss, and two ASU blocks, Seals took over.
Despite missing right away, Seals grabbed an offensive board and put it back for two, getting the fans back into the game with applause that made the arena shake.
After another steal, Seals decided to take it straight to the bucket herself. She now sits with six points, four boards and a block.

She just hit one of two free throws and scored on a fast-break layup, with a Maria Moore bucket in between.

It is currently, Tech on top, 32-26, with 1:14 left in the first half.

It's a close one

LUBBOCK, TX--It's been a tight one so far. The young team from Tech has already turned the ball over four times, leading to seven ASU points, as compared to the Devils' one for two points.

Each team has connected on seven shots from the floor and three from the charity stripe, but a three from Briann January had the Devils up by one.

The Lady Raiders just took the lead on a three-pointer from Raquel Christian that, got the relatively small crowd, on their feet and screaming.

The score currently sits at 22-2, Texas Tech in the lead, with 7:47 left in the first half.

Arizona State stumbles but takes takes the lead

In the opening 2:21, Arizona State won the tip and then Texas Tech didn't give them nothing else. The Lady Raiders went on a 9-4 run. ASU was also quickly out-rebounded 3-1, right off the bat.

After a timeout, the Lady Devils came out with six quick points to take the early lead at 10-9. Two buckets from Reagen Pariseau and one from Jill Noe got the Devils on top.

Big 12 Texas Tech-Pac 10 Arizona State

LUBBOCK, TX--The Texas Tech Lady Raiders and the Arizona State Sun Devils are getting set to tip-off against each other for the sixth time. The Lady Devils currently hold the series lead over Tech, 3-2 after a 61-45 victory last season.

The Lady Raiders look to rebound from their loss against Houston, but are certainly well rested after a nine day layoff due to final exams. They will turn to senior, Erin Myrick to lead the team as she is the current pace setter with 12.8 points per game, 54-percent shooting from the field and 15 blocked shots.
The Sun Devils have a momentum swing, coming into Lubbock after a 77-56 win over UC-Davis on Sunday. Junior Kirsten Thompson was announced as the Pac-10’s Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Monday, after shooting a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor and putting up 16 points against UC-Davis.

As of December 9th, Texas Tech ranked eighth in points allowed at 79.5 per contest, eighth in scoring margin at 22.7 and 10th in rebound margin. Also for the Lady Raiders, junior Stanecia Graham was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week for her performances from Nov. 26-Dec.2.
The Sun Devils are being led in five offensive categories, as well as one defensive stat by junior Briann January. January was named to the preseason All-Pac-10 team and leads the Devils with 11.1 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, made free throws (35), attempted free throws (40), and free throw percent (.875). She also leads with 2.4 steals per outing.

December 10, 2007

DID THEY WIN OR LOSE?

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Where do you draw the line between Rutgers winning tonight's game at the Rutgers Athletic Center and the California Golden Bears losing it?

To start each half, the Bears started hot, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the first and outscoring the Scarlet Knights 16-7 to open the second. Cal, who falls to 8-2 on the season, even started the second half shooting 8-for-10 from the field.

Rutgers went into the half up 30-20, and Cal came all the way back to take a lead after shooting 80 percent to start the second. The Bears showed fight, heart and determination. But that didn't make up for all the missed shots.

What started at 80 percent plummeted to 42.9 percent as the Bears finished the night making just four of their final 18 shots to lose the game 56-51 in front of 2,911 screaming Rutgers fans.

We all know about Rutgers' great defense, and it again showed tonight, but did their defense win this game? Well, it certainly wasn't the Knights' offense that did it.

New Jersey's State College shot under 40 percent for the game and only hit on 22 percent from long range, while launching up 19. They were led by senior Matee Ajavon, who finished the night with a game-high 15 points and six rebounds on 5-for-9 shooting as the only Knight with a decent percentage.

Center Kia Vaughn struggled again tonight, again suffering with a bout of sickness, although she did score six straight points at a critical time for the Knights and finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

"Kia should easily be shooting 75 percent from the field," said coach C. Vivian Stringer of her 6-foot-4 All-American candidate who incidentally is only shooting 41 percent.

Against the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year, junior Devanei Hampton, who was making just her second appearance of the season after tearing her ACL and having surgery to repair it, Vaughn should have been able to impose her will. And she did on the rebounding end, but didn't realize she could score the same way until late in the game.

Luckily for the No. 6 Scarlet Knights, who move to 7-2 on the season, that didn't matter, as their defense once again held their opponent under 40 percent for game.

Rutgers started their backups for the second consecutive game as punishment for their bad play in their loss to Duke. After Cal went on their opening run, the starters were put into the game, Rutgers got into rhythm and Cal's lead disappeared.

Cal should not feel too disappointed with the way they played tonight. Coach Joanne Boyle certainly wasn't after the game.

"There was any number of things we could have done better," Boyle said. "Press in the beginning that we kind fumbled with, free throws, play calling down the stretch and second-chance points. If you take any one of those things you are talking about a different game.

"Rutgers is a great team and if you don't capitalize they will take advantage and they did."

A healthy Hampton would have made a huge difference as well. The Bears were once again led by junior forward Ashley Walker, who sports a silky smooth post game and finished with 14 points and six boards, but Hampton just wasn't the same player.

"Dev hasn't had a practice yet," Boyle said of Hampton. "We gave her 12 minutes in the Princeton game. She's had about 60 minutes of practice coming into this game for the entire season. I can't be more excited about going into Pac-10 play with these three [Hampton, Alexis Gray-Lawson and Walker]."

Hampton said of her plight: "I'm mentally there, it's just that my knee isn't caught up with me. That's why I really need to get to practice where I can just focus on getting my knee back to where I am mentally."

Cal's other All-American candidate, point guard Gray-Lawson, finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but made just 3-of-9 from long range. One pleasant surprise for Cal was the play of sophomore 6-foot-5 center Rama N'diaye, who got the start for Hampton once again, and who finished with 12 points and nine boards but more impressively showed scary range from outside, knocking down not one, but two shots from just inside the three-point line.

Player Of The Game And Turning Point:
Rutgers' Kia Vaughn
Despite playing with a bout of sickness and eventhough she hasn't played near to her potential yet this season, and even with having an abysmal first half, the junior center did best when it mattered most for Rutgers.

After Cal went on their second-half run, Vaughn hit six big points and finished strong for the Scarlet Knights, scoring 13 and grabbing 15 rebounds. Cal is known for their ability to dominate the post and Vaughn just wouldn't let them impose their will.

Quote Of The Game:
Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer on her team's health:
"A number of the guys are sick. They’ve had IV fluids, Kia had it for the last three hours today. Heather [Zurich] had it all day yesterday and the day before. We’ve all been sick. They can’t stay on the floor long enough to keep their energy."

This is an interesting quote because anyone who watches Rutgers play knows that energy and intensity are what fuels them. And if you didn't notice, it's not like the Knights haven't been winning. Going 7-2 after playing six Top 25 teams is no easy feat.

Up Next For Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights get the team that Cal beat last Saturday, venturing in-state to Princeton on Wednesday.

Up Next For Cal
The Bears head back to Berkeley for a meeting against Kansas after an 11-day idle period.

RUTGERS PULLS IT OUT

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Cal Bears missed out on a big opportunity tonight at the Rutgers Athletic Center, finishing the game on a 4-for-15 run after starting the second half hot and losing to the No. 6 Scarlet Knights, 56-51 in front of 2,911 fans.

Cal falls to 8-2 with the loss and Rutgers moves to 7-2.

BACK FOR MORE WITH POSTGAME RECAP AND QUOTES...

HOME STRETCH RUN

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - An Alexis Gray-Lawson three just made the score 47-45 Rutgers with 6:30 to play. Before that, it looked like Rutgers would be able to coast to victory paced by their strong D.

Give Cal a lot of credit. They are scrappy, they play tough and they have some excellent talent on the floor. A 100 percent healthy Devanei Hampton and I am not sure Rutgers would have a two-point lead right now.

Kia Vaughn has woken up offensively for Rutgers and now has a double-double to help the Knights gain back the lead after Cal had taken it shortly. With 6:00 to play, coach Stringer pulled Vaughn for a breather. One has to wonder if this isn't the wrong time, but Vaughn needs a bit of a rest anyway.

I must leave you and concentrate on this homestretch run from both teams, but will be back right as the game ends to update you on everything that transpired over the remaining 5:49.

RUTGERS MISSING ESSENCE

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - With 11:59 to play, the score is Cal 40, Rutgers 39.

Looks like we might get a close finish tonight afterall.

For Rutgers, their problems might be stemmed from finding Essence Carson. The senior forward is playing, but not like her usual self. She has three fouls to go with two points and two rebounds on 1-for-8 shooting. Ouch.

On the other side of the ball, Ashley Walker, Cal's leading scorer and rebounder is doing what her Bears teammates expect of her. Namely 13 points, because she only has three boards. Walker looks very athletic for someone standing 6-foot-1 and playing the post. She has beautiful Crystal Langhorne-like footwork down low.

CAL HEATING UP

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Cal team that started the first half is back at the beginning of the second.

All of a sudden, the Bears are putting up baskets in bunches, going on a 14-5 run to start the half.

Ashley Walker and Lauren Greif, who hit a three, have been the big second-half contributors thus far and it just seems that to start each half Cal has had some extra bounce in its step.

Hopefully for them, they don't lose it again and let the Scarlet Knights go on another run, because at 35-34 with 15:48 to play, this has gotten good again.

AT THE HALF

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers leads Cal 30-20 at the half.

The first half was a half just like many others I have witnessed here at the RAC at the State University of New Jersey.

Defense. Defense. There was some defense played. And Rutgers played a lot of defense.

Holding Cal to about 30 percent shooting, the Scarlet Knights got a great half from senior guard Matee Ajavon, who heated up late in the half to the tune of 10 points and was all over the place defensively, making steals and getting rebounds and put backs.

Also playing well for Rutgers, and a bit of a surprise, Brittany Ray hit two monster threes en route to eight first-half points.

Junior center Kia Vaughn, who has struggled at times this season scoring and rebounding, is only struggling in one of those categories. Although she only has three points, the 6-foot-4 All-American candidate does have 10 boards.

Leading the way for Cal is backup - although she started tonight - center 6-foot-5 sophomore Rama N'diaye, who showed excellent range early, knocking down a shot from beyond the free throw stripe and finished the half with six points.

Devanei Hampton, playing in her second game back from injury, hit the first and last shots of the half for Cal and finished with four, looking unsure of herself at times.

The story was that defense - mentioned above - as the Scarlet Knights completely dominated the pace of play and had Cal scrambling into making bad entry passes and forcing the ball down low to covered bigs.

Expect more of the same in the second half. If Cal doesn't get back to playing the inspired upbeat style they showcased in the first few minutes of this one, they will be in trouble of getting blown out of New Jersey.

HOLLA AJAVON

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Amidst a 14-0 Rutgers run, this is quickly looking like the type of game everyone here at the RAC expected.

The Cal Bears jumped out to a 6-0 lead with Rutgers starters out, and built upon it shortly after they returned. But once they hit their stride, boy did they hit it hard.

Matee Ajavon has been everywhere, getting offensive rebounds, put backs, and ones, you name it. The senior has 10 points, sophomore Brittany Ray has two threes for a total of eight points and Rutgers leads 24-12 with 7 minutes to play in the half.

RAY OF SUNSHINE

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Halftime score 20-16? Brittany Ray does her best Lee Corso impression, saying, "Not so fast."

Ray hit back-to-back baskets, including a corner three, followed by a layup and the foul by Matee Ajavon and the Scarlet Knights now lead 18-12 with 8:29 left to play.

Now we are on pace for a much more obese score at the break. Maybe something like 28-22.

ON PACE

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - At the 10 minute mark, the score is 10-8 Cal.

That means we are looking at a possible 20-16 halftime score.

Yes, this is a sure fire Rutgers contest folks. And even though the Bears hold the small advantage and look very solid right now, the Knights will find their rhythm if Cal continues to let them dictate pace of play.

RUTGERS STYLE

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - With the normal starters sitting on the bench, No. 11 Cal got out to a quick 6-0 run. Rama N'diaye, who has done a fantastic job in the absence of Devanei Hampton, Hampton herself and Ashley Walker all scored for the Bears.

The crowd yelled for the starters. C. Viv delivered and there was a line change at the RAC, but not before a Katie Adams three cut Cal's lead in half.

Thus far, even with the reserves in, this is a Rutgers style game. Slow, steady, defense and few baskets.

DEVANEI HAMPTON

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Pac-10 Player of the Year last season, Devanei Hampton, is playing in just her second game back from right knee surgery.

After playing just 12 minutes in the first, I found out you can pretty much expect the same minute total tonight, meaning Cal will have to rely on Ashley Walker again.

For Rutgers, this is the second game in a row C. Vivian Stringer has decided to start her reserve lineup of Katie Adams, Rashidat Junaid, Heather Zurich, Myia McCurdy and freshman Khadijah Rushdan.

One Trio Against Another

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The fate of the No. 11 California Golden Bears rests in the hands - and on the surgically-repaired right knee - of reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year Devanei Hampton when they meet No. 6 Rutgers as part of the East Coast swing.

In the first game of their cross-country trip, the Bears defeated Princeton, 68-42, and Hampton saw her first action since her Nov. 9 surgery. In 12 minutes of play, Hampton scored nine points and grabbed two rebounds.

If Cal is to upset the Scarlet Knights at their home at the RAC, Hampton's production in her second game will have to significantly improve from her first.

Of course, Cal isn't without star power in Hampton's absence, in fact, fellow junior Ashley Walker, who actually led the Bears in points and rebounds last season, is having a superb season averaging almost 20 points and over 11 rebounds per contest for the 8-1 team from Berkeley.

Before the season, Cal tabbed its three All-American candidates, Hampton, Walker and junior point guard Alexis Gray-Lawson, as being "So Berkeley," meaning they play with a wild and free upbeat style. It also means that they had been looking forward to all getting on the court together as the trio are all good friends.

Gray-Lawson and Hampton were even high school teammates.

Last season, a few games in, Gray-Lawson suffered a season-ending injury and this was going to be the year they would reunite on the court. But Hampton ultimately got hurt as well.

After one game that allowed Hampton to get back into the flow of action, the 6-foot-3 star will need her A game to beat the Scarlet Knights. And it isn't going to be pretty.

It never is when Rutgers plays.

The Scarlet Knights are allowing just over 48 points per game this season and limiting their opponents to shooting a lowly 32 percent from the field and an even-worse 23 percent from deep. Their defense isn't the big-play kind, it's the suffocate-you-until-you-can't-breathe variety.

During last year's run to the National Championship game, the 6-2 Knights, like Cal, relied most heavily on an exciting trio of players in junior Kia Vaughn and seniors Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson. But this season, a sophomore has stolen the scoring duties away and let the trio concentrate on what they do best - play defense.

Epiphanny Prince once scored 100 points in a high school contest, and although that's not happening anytime soon, the New York City native is averaging over 13 a game and can put up points in bunches. She can hit the three, but standing only 5-foot-9, would much prefer to take the ball hard to the rack. Or is that RAC? Either way...

It's always a chess match when C. Vivian Stringer is coaching a basketball game and Rutgers' pieces fit better than almost any other team in the nation. They don't win pretty, they don't win big, but they win, and that is the most important thing.

Cal is a team that is just now beginning to take the shape that it will ultimately find itself in come March, the Knights are much more further along in their development. Both teams have a lot of talent and are quite similar, but expect Rutgers to have more than one advantage in this one.

The last time the two teams met was way back on Nov. 24, 2002, on the left coast, and the result was one in which I expect tonight's to be very similar. That night the Scarlet Knights defeated the home team Bears, 56-49, in a close defensive battle.

December 08, 2007

Upset Un-Special

NEW YORK -- Obviously neither Army nor Pitt pulled off the upset today, but apparently Rutgers' slow start was for good reason, with Stringer explaining in her postgame in no delicate terms the upset stomachs and headaches her team has been suffering.

"Maybe it was something in the food down there at Duke," Stringer surmised. "It's so many of us, it had hto be something in the food."

Otherwise, the anticlimactic postgame press conferences were an exploration of Stringer's decision to bench her starters after that Duke loss and an appreciation of MSG for hosting the second annual Maggie Dixon Classic, an event that the organizers and many others in the game hope prospers in the future.

"I am not at all about what happened at Duke, I'll tell you that," Stringer said in response to questions about her decision to start an entirely new lineup today, but it was Epihphanny Prince who put it most succintly.

"We can't play down to anyone's level," she said. "We have to play hard no matter what. The other five came in and did that [against Duke]. They deserved to start today."

Not With a Bang

NEW YORK -- It's no storybook ending, but it certainly the expected one, as Rutgers stepped right over Army here at the Garden. Army kept the game tight until the final minute of the first half, and once Rutgers got rolling there wasn't much the Black Knights could do to stop them. Final of the second game of this afternoon's Maggie Dixon Classic: 59-42.

The Great Scheduling Debate

NEW YORK -- Now that Rutgers has a 20-point advantage, I've had a moment to get together some post-game thoughts from Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie and Pitt's Agnus Berenato. In its second year, the Maggie Dixon Classic now presents a scheduling opportunity -- or pitfall -- for teams across the country, to which McCallie and Berenato both had something to add.

"We've been playing a pretty horrendous schedule," McCallie said. "We got in late last night and we just played Rutgers. You can certainly schedule to create a lot of wins and anybody can do that. But to me, It's all about what we're learning about each other." (Which, since it was a teammate's put-back that won the game, seems like a lot.)

"People ask me why I schedule the way I schedule," Berenato said. "I really believe to be the best you have to play the best and I want to be the best and my team wants to be the best. My team right now is not sure how to get there and I have to coach them up because Pitt has never had the tradition of a Duke or Maryland."

There you have it -- opportunity for some, fatigue for others. Come tournament time, you have to wonder what impact, if any, today's games will have on these four teams.

Purdy McCurdy

NEW YORK -- As Rutgers victimizes Army (the lead is 17 and growing), Stringer put promising sophomore Myia McCurdy back in the game. McCurdy's movements on the court are so natural that she makes even her teammates look clunky by comparison. She's also constantly referenced by her teammates as one of the hardest working players on the team, and though she wasn't a critical link last year, she seems to be a behind-the-scenes star of the Scarlet Knights' success.

Looks like McCurdy was the first of the subs. Katie Adams has just "replaced" Junaid, and though there's 12 minutes left Army's hopes are growing dim.

Tell Us How You Really Feel

NEW YORK -- Maybe Geno Auriemma's videotaped Maggie Dixon memory would have been better played during the first game today, because his touching story about Dixon a few days before her death was drowned out by the boos of Rutgers fans -- obviously sharing their animosity for their archrival's coach rather than meaning any disrespect to Maggie's memory, but still, an uncomfortable moment.

Twin Towers

NEW YORK -- Especially in sports, there are certain glaring genetic gifts that seem painfully unfair to those of us less fortunate in the athletic gene area. Putting Kia Vaughn and Rashidat Junaid, both a very solid 6-4, seems a little like bullying the undersized cadets. Still, perhaps I"m selling Army truly short, because 6-2 Erin Anthony just blocked Vaughn under the basket, something that doesn't happen very often.

Then again, the Army mascot just jumped onto the floor next to me, and the darn thing looks like a GIGANTIC horse. Of the apocalypse. Really, can't you warn a girl before she yelps on press row? Highly unprofessional.

Blood in the Water

NEW YORK -- Rutgers smells it, they're waking up right before halftime. Will a seven-point lead be enought to protect them from the wrath of Stringer? Probably not, because it's a safe bet that with emotions on their side, Army will be an even tougher team to deal with second half. McGuire is leading the Black Knights with 10 points, while Rutgers center Junaid is doing a great job filling in spots for Vaughn with a team-leading 10 as well. Rutgers has the 28-21 halftime lead. Can they hold on to it?

Familiar Faces

NEW YORK -- After multiple lineup changes, looks like Stringer's settled on a classic, four out of five from the lineup that got the Scarlet Knights' through most of the postseason: Vaughn, Ajavon, Carson, and Prince. It's a comforting sight and Rutgers seem comfortable, especially as Prince flexed her offensive speed, taking a steal downtown. Rutgers 23, Army 19.

Do Not Judge Me By My Size

NEW YORK -- Five-foot-two junior guard Megan Ennenga just sank an NBA-range three to put Army up 19-15 with 5 minutes left in this first half. Rutgers' legendary defense is looking a little spotty -- Ennenga had an unchallenged shot, and she took it to the bank. In fact, the pint-sized point guard is giving Army an unforseen speed. Very different from McGuire's strength, but giving the Scarlet Knights' a little trouble nonetheless.

Essence Carson just entered the game. In Stringer's world, that's bringing the defensive cavalry. Guess she doesn't like where this four-point deficit is headed.

We Got Game

NEW YORK -- So Enright's absence isn't a disaster yet, by any means. In fact, we've got ourselves a little slugfest here, with Rutgers leading 15-12. Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is swapping 'em in and out trying to find a group that will give her a little offensive production, but it looks like neither of our games today is going to break any scoring records.

Stone's trying her hardest. She just brough Army within one with two made free throws. 15-14, and Vaughn has the ball inside.

(Also, C. Viv just gave her Maggie memory on the Jumbotron. Uncharacteristically succint for our favorite postgame pontificator!)

Stone Cold

NEW YORK -- Army's Stefanie Stone just pulled her team within two, making good on a Myia McCurdy foul. I'm particularly impressed with junior guard Alex McGuire, who seems to have her hard hat on in Enright's absence. She just capitalized on her own steal to bring Stone within firing range. If Army can find an alternate scorer and no one picks up the Scarlet Knights' offensive end, we could have quite a game here.

Not Enright

Army senior guard Cara Enright just got carried off the court and into the locker room after taking a hard fall off the back of Rutgers' Brittany Ray. Enright is Army's second-leading scorer of all time, and an anchor of this team. Without her, the Black Knights' first nationally ranked opponent of the season looks even more intimidating. Still, Army only trails by four, and Rutgers has yet to look too far superior. If there was one thing Maggie Dixon brought to Army in her year there, it was a complete lack of intimidation for any opponent, any time.

RU Ready

NEW YORK -- It's no surprise that the Rutgers fans are here in full force, but to see the crowd of cadets down from West Point, you know Army will have plenty of support. Still, with Rutgers on the board first courtesy of sophomore Rashidat Junaid, you know Army has its work cut out for it to keep this one competitive.

Just a moment ago, after the USMA Color Guard presented the flag, 15-year-old Jessica Cook put in a stellar National Anthem performance to thank C.A.R.E. for helping her family. All throughout today I've been duly impressed with the class of the entire event, from the video messages to the halftime presentations. Maggie would be proud.

Maggie Dixon Day

In an openly emotional center court presentation, Maggie Dixon's family just helped present the C.A.R.E. Foundation with a $25,000 check for cardiac research, as a representative of Mayor Bloomberg declared today Maggie Dixon Day in the city of New York. It's tough to look at the four teams and cardiac patients lined up on the court right now and not think that Dixon's untimely death weighs heavily on the sport. As they said in the final memory video message: So Good. So Young.

Cheek's Black and Blue

NEW YORK -- Guess who's the hero...None other than Joy Cheek, who put back a Chante Black miss with 1.2 seconds on the clock to give Duke the 51-49 win. By the skin of their teeth, the No. 15 team in the nation keeps their claim to that title, though I can't help but feel like the Blue Devils sleepwalked their way through the game. McCallie's got to give her squad more of a killer instinct or the next upset-hungry upstart could put an embarrasing mark on the Blue Devils' record.

Call her (Almost) Clutch

NEW YORK -- Sims not only sank a fadeaway jumper to tie the game at 49, but she also got the steal that gave Pitt the chance to win the game. Too bad Zellous missed the jumper, and Pitt couldn't create on two rebounds. Now we have 12 seconds, game tied at 49, and Duke with a controversial inbounds under Pitt's basket. Are we headed for overtime!?

Building Blocks

NEW YORK -- We're careening towards a photo finish here with the Blue Devils up by only three inside two mintues, and Abby WAner just missed a free throw to keep things interesting. The only statistical category Duke has dominated tonight has been the blocks -- they've got at least 10 officially counted, and several more that didn't make the books. Pitt has, generously, two. The Panthers just don't look like they're used to playing a team this much bigger than they are, though both teams will have to face some serious size provided they both make the tournament.

No Wan-ing Energy

NEW YORK -- Duke's Emily Waner just stole her sister's show and sank a nice long three to give Duke its biggest lead of teh game. They're seven points ahead and suddenly they seem to realize that they were supposed to win this game. Pitt is relying more on individual heroics than the solid tag teams that were keeping them a step faster than the bigger, badder Blue Devils, and unless Walker goes ape, it's a losing strategy.

Speak of the devil, there's Walker cutting the deficit to five by knocking people around inside.

Feelin' Cheeky

NEW YORK -- Oh ye of little faith, says Joy Cheek. She's leading the Blue Devils with 12 points, five of them in quick succession that put Duke back ahead 35-33. Cheek busted out one of only two three-pointers scored so far (the other by Abby Waner, of course) and then followed with a nice little move. The momentum is definitely building in Duke's favor after a couple of Pitt misses.

J.T.'s Got Moves

NEW YORK -- I have a soft spot for Duke freshman Jasmine Thomas, being as she is like I from Northern Virginia, but the coast-to-coast speed she just showed for the Blue Devils was downright frightening. So she didn't capitalize, but she got right back in the mix on the ensuing offensive rebound. Too bad the Duke offense is wading around at the moment, and Pitt is capitalizing. Miss Zellous just sunk the extra point to put the Panthers up by three.

Doug Bruno got his video testimonial about Maggie Dixon. Dixon coached under Bruno for five years, so you expected a little more from the DePaul head coach, but he stuck to his script. Bruno was one of the most publicly devastated over Dixon's loss, so the fact that DePaul isn't involved in this tournament in her honor is a head-scratcher. Perhaps it's a risk to the Blue Demons' record. Dixon, after all, would want them to play it smart.

Comfort From Joy

NEW YORK -- Duke sophomore Joy Cheek must have heard me picking on her at half time, because she came out and gave Duke their first lead since the less than two minutes into the game -- looks like Joanne P. McCallie had a few things to say to the Blue Devils over the break, because they already look more alive.

My next favorite target, Chante Black, has made it 28-24. The power of the blog, people.

24

NEW YORK -- Black's chance to take the lead for the Blue Devils may have just bricked off the back of the rim, but Black got it back by taking a pretty solid elbow from Walker on the other end of the floor. Still, Duke's Joy Cheek missed the ensuing shot (she's 1-for-5) and despite Abby Waner's Laettner-like attempt, we're 24-all at halftime.

Power in Numbers

NEW YORK -- Duke put together a series of good defensive stands and turned into an 18-18 tie, but Pitt has climbed right back to a 22-18 lead. The assembled crowd is chanting "Let's Go Pitt!" and since the Panthers travelled with a band AND cheerleaders, they definitely have the Garden on their side. Of course, where I'm sitting next to the Duke friends and family, there's plenty of grumbling.

Sims is a beast, by the way, she just hit a pull up J. She's playing it cool, but the shot fairly screamed, "In your face!"

Speaking of faces, during the last TV time out they played a videotaped Agnus Berenato remembering Maggie Dixon for her "funky style and the high heeled shoes." Of course, Berenato expressed that Dixon "she believed in what was right about the game," and hoped that Pitt embodied the same spirit.

One more reason to love Berenato, besides her general good humor: She finished with, "You know Maggie, I love my high heeled shoes too."

Over-Zellous

NEW YORK -- I may be using this headline too soon, but Pitt guard Shavonte Zellous just nicked the shot clock and leads the Panthers with 6 points as the Panthers still lead Duke 16-11. Pitt's got some quick, young players on the court, and so far Duke hasn't shown any stuff that should intimidate them. In fact, the significant Pitt turnovers have been their own fault -- a pass just out of

I stand corrected, Duke's Chante Black just smacked the ball out of Chelsea Cole's hands. Let see if the Blue Devils can figure out how make this one work...

There is some question of whether Duke's travel went as smoothly as it should have last night, maybe making them a wee bit sluggish, but until they get some scoring from anyone but Abby Waner, they will certainly struggle.

Pitt Pops

NEW YORK -- Pitt may be the underdog today, but someone forgot to tell them. Though Duke's Chante Black has made a couple of undersized Panthers look silly, It's Pitt that has the 10-4 lead. Between a couple of buckets from sophomore guard Jania Sims and icing from player of the year candidate Mercedes Walker (who's been struggling to get comfortable in her shoulder brace), No. 15 Duke might need another cup of coffee.

The Maggie Dixon Classic at The World's Most Famous Arena

NEW YORK -- That's a wh.ole lot of name for a four-team tournament, but the moniker fits -- with Pitt and Duke warming up and the Garden slowly filling the first few sections, it's almost go time. Of course, with women's basketball media legend Mel Greenberg as my left-hand man through this first game, it seems appropriate this year to focus on what these teams have to win -- and not that which, with the passing of Maggie Dixon, all of women's basketball has lost.

December 06, 2007

Duke scratches and claws for ugly upset

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rutgers arrived at Cameron Indoor Stadium riding one of the nation's most impressive winning streaks, claiming victories over three highly ranked opponents. But that winning streak ground to a halt in fairly unimpressive fashion as Duke edged out Rutgers for a 49-44 victory.

"We had no excuse. We just weren't as tough as we needed to be -- we deserved to lose," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "If we don't mind losing, then I don't mind helping us lose."

Neither offense ever got into much of a rhythm, but it was Duke (6-3) who rode the game's final spurt to victory, ending on a three-game losing streak in the process. Rutgers (5-2) held a late four-point lead on a putback of a missed free throw by Heather Zurich, but the Blue Devils went on an 11-2 run to score a come-from-behind win.

"The game is pretty, it's beautiful, there's a song to it, and I've got to have it sung a certain way," Stringer said. "Winning takes care of itself, but it's not just about winning."

"It was very disjointed and it was without harmony," Stringer added. "It needs to be pretty, it's poetic, it flows. It did not flow and I was not happy."

The game had the harmony and flow of a middle school band rehearsal. There were more turnovers (38) than field goals (35). Duke went nearly six minutes without a point at the beginning of the game and Rutgers went stretches of 10:29 and 6:41 without field goals.

It appeared in the opening minutes that Rutgers would run away with the game. After the Blue Devils scored on their opening possession, the Scarlet Knights dropped 11 straight points while Duke was misfiring on the other end. But even with the 11-2 edge, Rutgers was playing sloppy offense and had no answers when the Blue Devils retreated into a zone.

The Scarlet Knights admitted after the game that they didn't attack the zone and settled for jump shots throughout the night. And when those jump shots weren't falling, Duke was allowed to linger long enough to make that final push.

"We took breaks on plays, and you can't take breaks on plays against Duke," Stringer said.

Rutgers could do nothing to shake things up. After the sluggish play continued in the second half, Stringer lifted her entire starting lineup for five bench players. The move never really paid dividends and while Rutgers' went through wild spikes in streaky shooting and long droughts, the Blue Devils kept an even keel, keeping the margin close until they could make a final push.

"Maybe a lot of coaches would've said, leave the starters in and figure out what they need to do, but I don't believe in that," Stringer said. "No one is on the floor unless they're doing what I need to do when I say do it. Simple is that. If we learned something from that, fine. If we didn't, then it'll happen again."

Everything in the box score was more or less identical -- Rutgers committed two more turnovers and grabbed two more rebounds and the shooting percentages were near identical. But the difference in the game was last-minute execution.

Basically, Rutgers continued to implode and Duke took advantage. The Scarlet Knights came up with a stop but Epiphanny Price traveled while corralling the rebound. Matee Ajavon then committed a foul 30 feet from the basket trying to fight through a screen to put Carrem Gay on the line for 1-and-1. The Scarlet Knights had a chance to win but the offense was out of sorts and Ajavon threw up a wild shot in the lane. Duke got the rebound, and in the chaos surrounding the scrum for the ball and the ensuing foul, Stringer was whistled for a technical, a meltdown that officially clinched the game for the Blue Devils.

Player of the Game: Epiphanny Price seemed like the only player on the floor intent on pushing the tempo. She led all scorers with 15 points and forced five steals. Her three 3-pointers were more than everyone else combined and she also grabbed nine rebounds from the guard spot. But she also turned the ball over five times and could never settle her team into a rhythm. Carrem Gay came off the bench for the Blue Devils to score 11 points (tied for a team high), five rebounds and three assists (also tied for a team high) and for a while seemed like the only Devil capable of making a shot. The bench chipped in 17 points and seven assists for Duke, arguably the difference in the game. And Gay was the best player off the bench.

Play of the Game: It actually happened while the players were off the floor. Stringer's inexcusable technical with 10.9 seconds left cost her team a chance at a win -- even if the Knights' play in the first 39:50 really justified that opportunity. Given that Keturah Jackson only made one-of-two free throws, Rutgers would've had more than enough time to set up a game-tying inside shot or a game-winning 3. But with Abby Waner knocking down both techs, Rutgers had no chance on its final possession. Stringer said, "If we don't mind losing, then I don't mind helping us lose." She certainly lived by those words. As for her explanation for that series of events...

Quote of the Game: Eleven minutes into the press conference, Stringer was finally asked about the technical, and after measuring her words for a few seconds responded, "I won't say anything, let me not comment. I'm just going to leave it alone. I'm not too surprised. I've gotten in enough trouble."

Done deal

DURHAM, N.C. -- Keturah Jackson converted one of two controversial free throws to ice the game and there's nothing left to do except for the home team to celebrate as Duke holds a 49-44 lead with 1.2 seconds left. More to come after the postgame press conferences.

Upset brewing?

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rutgers is killing itself down the stretch. The Knights came up with a stop, forcing Duke into a long 3, but Epiphanny Prince traveled while trying to corral the rebound. Rutgers then committed a foul 30 feet from the basket, resulting in a 1-and-1. Duke made one of two to take a 45-44 lead. On the ensuing possession, Rutgers looked totally out of sorts on offense and had a wild shot blocked in the lane. At some point in the hubbub after Rutgers was forced to foul on the rebound a technical was charged against Rutgers. Abby Waner knocked down both free throws and now lead 47-44 with a 1-and-1 coming and just 10.9 seconds on the clock.

OT Bound?

DURHAM, N.C. -- Essence Carson has had a quiet night, but her 10-footer from the baseline has just knotted the score at 44-44. The offense has been a little more lively in the second half, but with 51.3 seconds left it's far from a sure thing that either team will score again. Either way, this game just has the feel of a contest destined for overtime.

Asleep at the wheel

DURHAM, N.C. -- This game is lulling everybody to sleep. Essence Vaughn stepped to the line and missed her free throw. Everybody -- the Devils on the blocks, the referees -- stood around and watched the ball bounce off the rim. Heather Zurich, seemingly the only one paying attention, picked up the loose ball and put back a layup. The Rutgers bench all had one finger raised indicating it was a 1-and-1 and even the refs weren't quite sure how to call it. But it was in fact a 1-and-1 and a head's up play by Zurich. In a game where points are at a premium, the Dookies will be kicking themselves if they lose because of a mental lapse like that.

Depth charge

DURHAM, N.C. -- If the Blue Devils pull this one out, they can thank their bench. Jasmine Thomas' three from the left wing just resulted in another Rutgers timeout and a 38-37 lead for Duke. The last 11 Blue Devil points have come from Duke's bench. But Epiphanny Price is single-handedly keeping Rutgers in this, drilling a 3 from the corner as the shot clock was expiring to put Rutgers back out in front. Price leads all scorers with 15 points.

Attention scoreboard operator

DURHAM, N.C. -- It took better than 30 minutes but the offenses have finally woken up. Epiphanny Price hit the game's first 3 since early in the first half and Duke responded with a long jump shot of its own. Rutgers answered back with a 3-ball from Heather Zurich. If that keeps up, the Devils might actually have to consider falling out of their zone. Jasmine Thomas made a lovely drive to the hoop and got hacked to electrify the crowd on the other end of the floor. The under 8 timeout interrupted the momentum, but Duke is down just two with the free throw pending.

Another drought finally ends

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rutgers endured another extended field goal drought, this time going nearly seven minutes without one. The only thing keeping the Knights in the game was the inside presence of Rashidat Junaid (four free throws) and the equally woeful shooting by the Blue Devils. The streak was only snapped after Kia Vaughn had three cracks from two feet away. Rutgers followed that layup with a hanging, change-of-direction layup by Matee Ajavon to give the Knights a 29-27 lead.

And Duke takes the lead

DURHAM, N.C. -- So far, Stringer's gamble hasn't paid off. The second unit looks even more out of sorts than the starting lineup and Stringer had to call a timeout after a miscommunication led to a turnover and an on-court shouting match. The larger question is, has Rutgers EVER seen a zone before? Duke hasn't slid out of it and the Knights still look completely confused by it. Of course it doesn't help that they can't make a jump shot and extend the defense. Duke is on an 8-0 run right now and Cameron is finally starting to get loud. And the Rutgers starters are still sitting.

Shakeup

DURHAM, N.C. -- Clearly C. Vivian Stringer doesn't like what she's seeing out of her team in the first two minutes after intermission. After going more than 11 minutes without a field goal in the first half the Knights remained sluggish to start the second half. So after a foul on the defensive end, Stringer summoned a fresh lineup, subbing out all five of her players. Despite the move, Duke has crawled back to tie it at 21-21, the first tie since it was 2 all.

The half in a nutshell

DURHAM, N.C. -- All you needed to do was watch the final 10 seconds of the first half to get a sense of how things went in the first 20 minutes. Rutgers rushed the ball up the court for a final shot but threw a sloppy pass that got intercepted by Brittany Mitch in the open court. Mitch broke free up the court but never paid heed to the clock and was still dribbling toward the basket when the buzzer sounded.

DURHAM, N.C. -- All you needed to do was watch the final 10 seconds of the first half to get a sense of how things went in the first 20 minutes. Rutgers rushed the ball up the court for a final shot but threw a sloppy pass that got intercepted by Brittany Mitch in the open court. Mitch broke free up the court but never paid heed to the clock and was still dribbling toward the basket when the buzzer sounded.

Rutgers leads 19-17 at the half and the action was every bit as ugly as the score indicates. If the Blue Devils could only hit a layup they'd probably be up by 10. Then again, if Rutgers could string together three passes without a turnover the second half would probably be a formality at this point.

The first half box score is in and it isn't pretty as there were more turnovers than made field goals, and by a healthy margin. Rutgers show 24.1 percent from the field and was just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. Epiphanny Price contributed seven points but also committed four of Rutgers' nine turnovers.

Duke actually shot slightly better at 27. 6 percent (8-29 versus 7-29 for Rutgers) and missed all six of its three-point attempts. The Blue Devils compounded their poor shooting with 12 turnovers. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders -- seven of the nine Duke players to see action committed at least one turnover.

The Bouncing Bulldogs, a local jumproping team is on during halftime and has generated the most excitement so far tonight, and certainly the most oohs and ahs. If the second half continues on the same pace as the first, the Crazies might be chanting for the Bulldogs to come out for an encore instead.

Rutgers' turn

DURHAM, N.C. -- Now it's Rutgers' turn to go an extended stretch without a field goal. It's been better than seven minutes since their last score from the floor, but Duke has been unable to capitalize. The score was 13-6 when Rutgers last hit a shot and with under 3 minutes to go Duke has managed to only cut the deficit to 17-15.

Zoned out

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Blue Devils have fallen back into a zone and it's working against the cold-shooting Knights. Rutgers has been unable to find gaps or penetrate through the zone and its lone 3 came on a broken play. Rutgers better hope those jumpers start falling because it probably can't count on scoring all its points in transition and still maintain a lead over the Devils who are slowly but surely finding their offense. The Knights are clinging to a 15-13 lead at the under 8 timeout.

Breaking news...Duke scores!

DURHAM, N.C. -- After a drought of nearly six minutes, Carrem Gay knocked down a 15-footer to snap Rutgers' 11-0 run. After another Rutgers turnover, Gay hit another jumper to cut the Duke deficit to 11-6, prompting C. Vivian Stringer to call a timeout of her own. Let's see if these early timeouts can settle these teams down.

Ice cold

DURHAM, N.C. -- Neither team has looked very impressive, but Rutgers still started with a 11-2 run. Duke scored on its first possession and haven't come close since with an assortment of missed layups, errant jump shots and bad turnovers. Rutgers has had a few unforced turnovers as well, but has converted those turnovers into points. The big shot so far was an Epiphanny Price 3 from the left wing with the shot clock expiring following back-to-back Duke blocks. The Devils already burned one timeout before the first media stoppage, but all that led to was another poor entry pass that landed out-of-bounds.

Pre-Game Honors

DURHAM, N.C. -- There was a brief ceremony before the game honoring Wanish Smith, who recently surpassed the 1,000 point mark, becoming the 22nd Blue Devil to accomplish the feat. The jump is coming and Cameron is still half-empty.

Revenge-minded Duke hosts Rutgers

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Cameron Crazies are still fairly subdued (and sparse) with tip-off from Cameron Indoor Stadium about 15 minutes away. Third-ranked Rutgers (5-1) enters Cameron on a roll, having won five straight -- including two victories against top 10 opponents. Meanwhile, Duke (5-3) stumbles into the matchup on a three-game losing streak as coach Joanne McCallie's first season has gotten off to a slow start.

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Cameron Crazies are still fairly subdued (and sparse) with tip-off from Cameron Indoor Stadium about 15 minutes away. Third-ranked Rutgers (5-1) enters Cameron on a roll, having won five straight -- including two victories against top 10 opponents. Meanwhile, Duke (5-3) stumbles into the matchup on a three-game losing streak as coach Joanne McCallie's first season has gotten off to a slow start.

Rutgers and Duke faced off twice last year in a pair of games that couldn't have gone more different. The Blue Devils stomped the Scarlet Knights in the regular season by 40 points. But Rutgers extracted a large measure of revenge, knocking out the top-seeded Devils in particularly excruciating fashion. Duke star Lindsey Harding missed a pair of free throws with .1 seconds left as Rutgers escaped with a 53-52 victory en route to the National Championship game.

Expect a low-scoring affair between these two teams tonight. Neither squad averages 60 points per game and both hold their opponents to under 50 per game. If the Blue Devils want to halt their losing streak, they need to continue their dominance on the board. Duke is averaging a +12.2 rebounding margin, whereas Rutgers more or less breaks even on the glass.

If Epiphanny Price can duplicate her stellar performance from Rutgers' 68-60 victory over then-No.3 Maryland (22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds) then the Knights will be in good shape to pick up their fourth straight win against a ranked opponent. Senior Essence Carson enters tonight averaging 12 points per game and stands 13 points shy of becoming the 26th Scarlet Knight to enter the 1,000-point club.

December 05, 2007

Thomas earns milestone in big UConn win over Virginia

HARTFORD, Conn. -- With every one of Mel Thomas' first three shots, it seemed every fan in the arena was pulling for the guard to make history.

Thomas may have kept everyone waiting longer than expected.

After a 1-for-5 shooting performance in the first half, Thomas got the ball near the foul line with the crowd again in anticipation, but this time, it went in, and a loud roar by the fans accompanied it.

"I was just trying to score, they just weren't going in," Thomas said. "There's days like that when your a shooter."

The only thing Thomas knew was to keep shooting, and sooner or later the milestone would be met.

"I just kept shooting and eventually a couple went in, which was enough to get 1,000 [points]," Thomas said.

Thomas ended with seven points, putting her career total at 1,002 points. Even with a low-scoring effort by Thomas, the Huskies (7-0) had no trouble taking out the Cavaliers (6-4), winning 75-45 at the Hartford Civic Center Wednesday night.

Three Huskies scored in double figures, as forward Tina Charles, center Brittany Hunter and forward Maya Moore scored 18, 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Moore, coming off the bench, continued to impress in her first season at UConn -- she added three rebounds and two blocks. Her streak of double figures to open her career was extended to seven games.

Charles, who shot 89 percent from the field, along with Hunter, who shot 78 percent, led the Huskies in the paint, where the Cavaliers defense couldn't seem to stop any one from beating them on the blocks.

Both Charles and Hunter went 5-for-5 from the field in the games opening 13 minutes -- something that proved to kill the Cavaliers inside.

"Tonight we met an inside game that was a little over our heads," said Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. "We just did not do much to corral it.

The Cavaliers did hold the Huskies scoreless during a four-minute stretch during the beginning of the game, but that short period was only a glitch in UConn's potent offense all night.

"The biggest thing with [UConn] is that you have to sustain that first hit," Ryan said. "And I don't think we did a very good job."

Ryan credited Hunter for her play after coming off a knee injury. So did her coach.

"I thought she set the ton that first 10 minutes, said Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma. "She's playing with a lot of confidence right now."

One thing that Auriemma stressed that he wasn't confident is in his team's free throw shooting. The Huskies went 8-for-18 from the stripe -- 1-of-7 in the first half.

"Coach has been stressing that a lot," Thomas said of free throw shooting. "[Auriemma has been] telling people they need to get in the gym a lot more and shoot free throws because it's been bad the past couple games."

Poor free-throw shooting or not, the Huskies are still on a role.

With the win Wednesday night, the Huskies have now won their last 20 regular season games, and improve to 25-13 against ACC opponents.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tina Charles, C, UConn -- Charles scored a team high 18 points, and had three of the Huskies 13 blocks. Charles also led the team in rebounds with six.

PLAY OF THE GAME: The Hartford Civic Center was the loudest of the game minutes into the second half when guard Mel Thomas became the 29th player in UConn history to score 1,000 points in her career. Thomas finished the game with seven points, and 1,002 in her career.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: "She said she couldn't breathe. We said 'How can we tell, you're running at the same paced all the time.' Then, what, she had three slices of pizza on her way out of here. She said "[I] can't breathe, but I can eat."
- UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, on guard Kalana Greene's apparent injury after being clothelined by a Virginia player.

UP NEXT: UConn - After a break for final exams, the Huskies are back in action on Dec. 17 when they take on South Carolina at Gampel Pavilion at 7:30 p.m.

Virginia - Following a similar schedule, the Cavaliers have a 15-day break between games, when they host Davidson at 7 p.m.

No Problem with the Cavaliers

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The No. 2 Huskies win big over Virginia tonight, and continue to bowl over opponents early in the season. UConn improves to 7-0 on the season while the Cavaliers drop to 6-4.

Final score: UConn 75, Virginia 45

Stats, quotes and more coverage to come.

Getting Ugly

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Huskies continue their dominance of the Cavaliers, and it seems that the big win is inevitable for UConn, as they lead by 28 with 5 minutes left in the game.

The look on Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan will say it all, as she stands in disappointment with he arms crossed in front of the bench, yelling "Good job," whenever she sees a spark from her team, because they haven't been often.

Being up big has no effect on the Huskies play, as Mel Thomas dove for a ball on the court shortly after shooting across the court near the basket to steal a pass.

The way this game is being played toward the end, you would think it was much closer than the score indicates, as is the case with the foul calling as well with many iffy calls being made.

Thomas hits 1,000-point mark

HARTFORD, Conn. -- UConn guard Mel Thomas just became the 29th player in the Huskies' "1,000 points club" with a shot near the foul line with 17 minutes left in the game. It took her only 107 games to accomplish the feat.

Thomas waved to the fans and seconds later, Thomas was right back to work, getting her first foul when she hit Aisha Mohammed under the basket.

UConn is still up big, 53-28 over the Cavaliers.

Doubling the Cavaliers

HARTFORD, Conn -- Well, after the first half, it seems like the Huskies will have another big win in their grasp, as they lead Virginia 44-22 after the game's first 20 minutes.

The Mel Thomas watch is in full effect, as the fans are apparent in their support for the senior guard. Thomas has three points on 1-of-5 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists.

Brittany Hunter leads the Huskies with 12 points and five rebounds, as the Huskies are dominating off the glass with 28 to 15 in rebounds. UConn is sharing the wealth, however, with three players scoring in double-figures.

The Cavaliers offense is slumping -- 10-of-35 shooting won't cut it, especially against a UConn offense that is shooting 21-of-35 on the night so far. Look for Virginia to try the inside more, as center Aisha Mohammed has been having some success under the basket with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, which leads the team.

No points needed from Thomas so far

HARTFORD, Conn. --- On her way to potentially scoring 1,000 career points, Mel Thomas doesn't seem like she cares about the numbers, as she has done more dammage with her passing than shooting.

Through the first 13 minutes, Thomas has three asssists, including a pass around the defender under the basket, to go along with four rebounds. Her shot -- an 0-for-3 effort so far -- is off to a poor start. With every shot, the crowd seems to light up, then just as quickly the entire arena sighs in disappointment.

The Huskies lead 36-18, with Tina Charles and Brittany Hunter each with 10 points.

Off to an early start

HARTFORD, Conn. --- The Huskies are wasting no time getting off to a big lead against the Cavaliers, who did score the first two points of the game -- something BYU failed to do when going down early on a 23-0 Huskies run to start the game.

After a Virgina time out, UConn center Tina Charles leads the game with six quick points, as the Huskies lead 20-6 with 14 minutes left in the first half.

Huskies ready for Cavaliers

HARTFORD, Conn. -- No. 2 UConn (6-0) takes on Virginia (6-3) tonight at 7 p.m. at the Hartford Civic Center.

Within a game that shouldn't be rather competitive, the match-up with Virginia could prove to be one for the record books, as Huskies guard Mel Thomas can make history tonight.

With five points tonight, Huskies guard Mel Thomas could join the 1,000 points club -- only the 29th player in school history. Thomas comes into the game with 995 points in 106 games.

If the game tonight is similar to the last meeting between the Huskies and Cavaliers -- a 96-60 UConn win Dec. 18 last season -- Thomas should have no trouble surpassing the milestone.

Another storyline is the link of Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma to Virginia basketball. Auriemma's first job came as an assistant coach of the Cavaliers from 1982-85.

Virginia comes into the game after winning their last two against Wisconsin and Farleigh Dickinson Nov. 30 and Dec. 2, respectively.

Leading the Cavaliers is forward Lyndra Littles and guard Monica Wright, each scoring 17 points per game. Down under the basket, rebound threat Aisha Mohammed, from Lagos, Nigeria, leads the team with 9.1 rebounds per game.

The Huskies are led by center Tina Charles, whose 13.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game are tops on the team.

December 03, 2007

Maryland Does Bleed...Scarlet

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Maryland just couldn't hit the big shots at the end of the game when they needed it most and the Scarlet Knights used amazing pressure defense to get the Terps out of their games in the second half to pull away and win, 68-60, in front of 4,181 at the RAC.

The Knights finally got their big win at home.

Back with more...

Instant Heavyweight Classic

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - This one was worth the price of admission. And I got to see it for free. Jealous? You should be, this was one instant classic of a game.

Like a heavyweight battle, Rutgers and Maryland went blow for blow for 40 minutes, and the final was a lot closer than the 68-60 score indicated. But in the end, Rutgers hit hardest and pulled out the win on their home court in front of 4,181 fans who were behind them from start to finish.

This game was all about styles of play. Maryland likes to force its opponents to run, while Rutgers slows you down and forces you to take bad shots. The game featured moments where each team was able to enforce its will. But ultimately it was Maryland who missed one too many shots.

Maryland creates a unique matchup for any team. With a 6-foot-4 Laura Harper to compliment Crystal Langhorne, no team can match the Terps' inside size. But Harper and Langhorne were nowhere to be found in the second half, finishing with a combined 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Even the Terps' star of the early season, Kristi Toliver, had a terrible game. The junior finished 4-for-15 from the field, 3-for-12 from long range and turned the ball over five times. But that's what Rutgers' defense will make a good shooter do.

Maryland shot almost 62 percent in the first half to grab a 33-23 lead. Rutgers went into half knowing they had to make some changes, and change they did, forcing the Terps to shoot an awful 21.7 percent in the second half and completely taking them out of their rhythem.

"We started playing transition defense, that was one thing we were lacking in the first half," said Rutgers senior Essence Carson, who finished with 15 points. "They were getting open breaks because we weren’t locating their shooters fast enough. They were smart, but we got it together, we talked about it and we decided that we were going to play some defense."

And boy did they ever play some defense. They rebounded as well. In all, they just outmuscled the bigger and stronger Terps up and down the court in the second half.

"All the credit goes to Rutgers," said a pregnant Maryland coach Brenda Frese. "They had a tremendous gameplan and we played right into their hands. We knew it would be a tough environment, the crowd did a tremendous job, but we were disappointed with our second-half play.

"We came out and played a really solid first 20 minutes, but the second half, they're toughness factor, they did a tremendous job taking us out of the things we wanted to run offensively and they started making big shots themselves."

No one hit bigger shots than sophomore guard Epiphanny Prince, who had a game-high 22 points, scoring 15 in the second half alone. Prince also dished out 10 assists and grabbed seven rebounds, and hit the big shots at the end with the game on the line.

With nine minutes to play, and Rutgers down five, 45-40, Prince nailed a three, followed that immediately with another three and Rutgers had their first lead of the second half, 46-45. Later, with the score 49-48 Rutgers, Prince went at it again, this time hitting three shots in a row, two coming in the lane in traffic after grabbing big offensive rebounds, and Rutgers extended its lead for good.

All Maryland could do was hoist up threes to no avail. Rutgers pulled off the upset with its amazing defensive tenacity and its never-give-up attitude.

This was a big difference then this point in the season last year, when the Knights lost by 40 to Duke in the Jimmy V Classic. Of course, the Knights were playing this one at home.

"Our fans are great," said coach C. Vivian Stringer after the game. "They were there and we needed that. The nation got a chance to see it and they know that this Rutgers crowd is legitimate.

"This nation has some really fine basketball teams. This should help us confidence wise. It should help us position wise. We need to show we can step up and play inspite of the competition. But it's nice to see that we stepped up today. It was real nice to see that."

Player of the Game:
Epiphanny Prince, G, Rutgers:
Prince proved she is the most talented player on the Scarlet Knights roster by taking over late in this game. The sophomore scored 22 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed seven boards and Rutgers needed every bit of that production.

Turning Point of the Game:
Halftime. It was like one Maryland team went into halftime, up by 10, and a decidedly different Maryland team came out, the one that shot just 21 percent and couldn't buy a bucket or get inside position late in the game.

Whatever coach Stringer - who was very calm if you ask Essence Carson - said at halftime really gave the Knights a jolt, as they picked up their intensity and did all the right things when the second half began.

Quote of the Game:
Prince, on the crowd noise and how it pumped up the Rutgers team:
"As we started going through our run, they were getting hyped, with the way they were loud and we saw the Maryland kids' eyes started bugging, so we just tried to keep going with it."

Up Next:
Rutgers moves to 5-1 with the big win over a Top 5 team and will next meet another Top 15 team in Duke on the road in Durham on Dec. 6. It never gets any easier for the Knights, who scheduled one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

Maryland drops to 10-1 on the season, good news if you ask coach Brenda Frese, who thinks the Terps will learn from this contest.

"I know we'll rebound, we have too much character in our lockerroom not to," Frese said of Maryland inability to rebound in the second half - the Terps held a 16-12 first-half advantage but ultimately tied the Knights at 34 apiece. "Just a great game for us to be able to play early on. It’ll be 14 games in 31 days and I’ve been so proud to see the toughness that we’ve displayed."

The Terps next take on Middle Tennessee State, a tournament team from last season, on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

RU By Five

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Down by five with 3:31 to play, Maryland is playing with a sense of urgency.

Rutgers has completely taken over the momentum of this game thanks to Epiphanny Prince, who has 10 of the biggest points that Rutgers has scored tonight, including the Knights last four, to make the score 53-48.

Langhorne is on the line right now shooting two, but Maryland needs to get back into its offense if they hope to not get upset here tonight at the RAC.

The Terps are still shooting 20 percent on the half and they are turning the ball over as well, with 19 on the game, compared to RU's nine.

RU Has A Lead

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers is a team on a mission right now and the crowd is backing them on their journey.

With 7:20 to play, Epiphanny Prince hit her second 3-pointer in a row to give the Scarlet Knights their first lead since about 16 minutes left in the first half.

Rutgers had cut the lead down to 42-40, but Marissa Coleman responded with a huge three, making it a five-point game. But that's when Prince went off for her back-to-back trifectas. The sophomore guard has 15 points to lead all scorers.

Maryland is shooting just 20 percent in the second half. After shooting 62 percent in the opening stanza, that is a big reason the Terps have let the Knights back in.

Just A Two Point Game

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The lead is just two.

With 10 minutes to play, you could tell the Rutgers fans were ready for their Knights to make a run. And the Knights responded.

Rashidat Junaid, not usually a big contributor, hit a lay up with 9:15 to play to cut the lead to two, 42-40, sending the crowd and the Rutgers bench into jubilation and forcing Maryland to call a 30 second timeout to regroup.

Chants of, "R, U!" have been going back and forth between sides of the arena for almost the entire timeout. The RAC is rocking right now.

Getting Closer

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers doesn't know how to quit.

You know you will get heart and determination from Rutgers and the Scarlet Knights won't let this game slip away.

Down by 10 again, the Knights got back-to-back baskets by Matee Ajavon and backup center Rashidat Junaid - Ajavon hit a three in the corner - to cut the Maryland lead in half.

With 11:34 to play the score is 41-36 Terps.

Kristi Toliver is being blanketed by Epiphanny Prince out there and is visibly frustrated that she cannot seem to shake loose.

Every single time Rutgers has made a run in this game, Maryland has answered. Let's see what the Terps do next. Or will the Knights continue to get back into this game?

Swinging Mo'

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The second half started with Maryland unable to connect from the field for over two minutes and Rutgers used a 4-0 run to get back to within six.

Crystal Langhorne came out of halftime and seemed to regress, looking ugly on a travelling call in the lane and then compounding that by airballing her next shot from the free throw line.

But a big three pointer from freshman Marah Strickland and Kia Vaughn going out of the game with four fouls already has given the Terps back some momentum and they continue to lead, 36-29.

Terps By 10 At The Half

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - After one half of action, this game is pretty much everything you would have expected.

Epiphanny Prince hit a shot at the buzzer into halftime. OK, it was after the buzzer and didn't count. Pretty much sums up the first half for the Scarlet Knights, who trail No. 3 Maryland 33-23 after one.

The Scarlet Knights' defense is devastating, but they seem to be a step behind the Terps' offense, which is one of the best and most efficient in the nation - if not the best.

The Terps can be prone to turnovers, yes, but when their offense clicks it is a wonderful thing to watch.

The Terps used speed and the transition game to run away at the end of the first half and grab that double-digit lead. The All-American Crystal Langhorne led the scoring with eight points, followed by Kristi Toliver, Marissa Coleman and Jade Perry - who was huge off the bench - with six.

A frenetic pace at times, the game is too fast for Rutgers' liking. They need to slow the Terps down and when they do, they look a lot more in their element. But slowing down the Terps - yes, I see the irony in that - is no easy task. These girls can run in transition.

And if Langhorne is back and completely healthy, that is a scary prospect for the rest of the country. There isn't a team in the nation who can run with the Terps when they are on.

For the Scarlet Knights, they are led by their leading scorer, the sophomore Prince, who has seven and hit a big three near the end of the half. Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon, the senior leaders, have six points apiece.

Special Halftime Presentation:
N.C. State coach Kay Yow accepted a giant check in the sum of $10,000 made out to The V Foundation and handed out by Rutgers University. An excellent gesture made by New Jersey's State University in the fight on Cancer.

Yow is up and around on her feet and is making her rounds giving hugs and shaking hands to people associated with Rutgers, Maryland and anyone else who wants to come down to show the coach who is suffering with end-stage Cancer some love.

Maryland's Gem

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Maryland holds an 18-16 lead with 7:26 to go in the first half and they have Jade Perry to thank.

Perry has come off the bench to provide a needed spark for the Terrapins as Rutgers has been able to slow them down a little late.

Perry has hit three big buckets for Maryland for six early points to lead the team and the Terps have shot almost 67 percent from the field - compared to the Knights' 38 percent - to take the lead.

Essence Carson has been very good tonight thus far for Rutgers and has six points of her own on 3-for-5 shooting.

Fast-Paced Terps

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Is the Tide turning?

Maryland may be missing some shots early and making some early mistakes and turnovers, but they are inflicting their own style of play on Rutgers and forcing the tempo to be a lot quicker than the Knights would like.

Maryland has grabbed the lead, 14-12, at the 9:20 mark in the first half and got a big boost from Jade Perry off the bench. Perry doesn't look it, but she was able to hit on an acrobatic layup in the lane and then immediately followed that with a nice jumper from the free throw line.

Rutgers With Fire

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers came out with a lot of fire in the opening minutes of this one. But one very amusing thing happened before the ball was even tipped.

During the Maryland team announcement, Maryland's Crystal Langhorne was introduced. She ran onto the court and did a chest bump with Jade Perry. Langhorne came down awkward and lost her balance, falling on her backside. The senior got a big laugh, as did her teammates, as she got up embarassed and hugged Perry after.


As for the game, Rutgers has been the more physical team in the first few minutes, jumping for loose balls on the floor, and using their defense to make Maryland look shaky.

The Terps have already had a defensive three second turnover and an offensive foul. And the early score is 6-4 Scarlet Knights.

Epiphanny Prince made the move of the year for Rutgers, scoring on a sick hesitation dribble to make Laura Harper fall to her knees and open up a wide-open lane for the score.

Back At The RAC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Back once again at the State College of New Jersey for another big-time matchup between Top 10 teams, this time for the Jimmy V Classic.

It's the No. 3 Maryland Terrapins who venture north to the Garden State in search of a victory over last year's national runners-up.

Maryland comes in undefeated at 10-0, including big wins over LSU and Oklahoma, and the Terps are hungry to prove they can win on the road.

Rutgers, on the other hand, comes in 4-1, having lost only to then-No. 7 Stanford on their home floor at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights need to prove they can protect their house.

Sorry to sound like an Under Armour commercial there, but the Terps football team is sponsored by the company.

This game couldn't feature two different styles of play. Rutgers uses slow-down tough defense to bore the other team into shooting a horrible percentage, while Maryland runs and guns all over the court.

Which style will prevail?

In my opinion, if Rutgers' Essence Carson is completely healthy, her and the Knights will be able to control junior point guard Kristi Toliver, who has been lights out this year averaging 18.4 points and over eight assists per game.

But it will be up to Kia Vaughn to control Crystal Langhorne, the All-American center for the Terps who is back from injury and is as close as she's been to 100 percent healthy.

Langhorne has the quickest post footwork in the nation and with the Knights concentrating on all the Terps' other weapons, Lang might be able to shake free down low. And if the Knights drop down to cover her, that should leave Toliver open on the wing.

And don't forget about Marissa Coleman and Laura Harper, two other major scoring options for Maryland, who both are averaging in double figures. Oh and freshman guard Marah Strickland is scoring nine a game and shooting 50 percent from long range - as if the Terps needed production from someplace else.

The Scarlet Knights come in ranked No. 5 in the nation, back in the Top 5 after defeating LSU last week, and showcase some excellent point scorers of their own.

Senior guards Matee Ajavon and Carson, along with Vaughn and sophomore Epiphanny Prince can all light it up at any time.

But the Terps are the more consistent option on offense, and taking the LSU game - both teams played the Tigers at home - into consideration, Maryland beat LSU by 13 and scored 75 points in that game. Rutgers only beat the Tigers by two, 45-43.

Now, you can bet that Maryland doesn't score buckets in bunches against Rutgers tonight, but you can also bet they do it better than any team the Knights have faced this year. Should be a good one.

Game Notes:
--Prior to the game, a press conference was held to announce the V Foundation's new women's intiative, the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund to help find an answer for the world's worst disease.

-- Maryland's Crystal Langhorne needs just three rebounds to break Maryland's all-time school record currently held by great Vicki Bullett.

--The Terps are the first team to win 10 games this year, and it is the second year in a row Maryland has started 10-0.

--Junior Maryland guard Kristi Toliver needs 14 points to reach 1,000 for her career.

--In last season's Jimmy V Classic, Rutgers lost to Duke by 40 points, a loss that was later avenged when the Scarlet Knights knocked the Dukies out of the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16. Rutgers will look to fully avenge that loss by winning the Jimmy V Classic this year against the Terps.

December 02, 2007

No. 1 Tennessee hangs on against UNC

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- No. 1 Tennessee held on for a 83-79 win over No. 4 North Carolina after almost letting a double-digit lead evaporate over the closing minutes.

UNC cut a 11-point lead down to three, and even had a shot to tie the game with five seconds left when Tennessee's Alexis Hornbuckle fouled UNC freshman Rebecca Gray's 3-point attempt. Gray hit the first free throw, but her second shot was short and to the left. She tried to intentionally miss her third attempt, but failed to hit the rim giving UT the ball. Lady Vols' forward Nicky Anosike threw it to half court to a wide open Hornbuckle for a layup and the win.

"I should have let it go," Hornbuckle said about Gray's 3-point attempt. "I would have been heart broken if that was the reason we lost."

UT had double digit leads on three separate occasions, but UNC found a way to bounce back each time.

"We can’t get frazzled," UT's Candace Parker said. "We went up and then we let them come back. All of us need to be put in situations in practice to work on that.”

The Tar Heels only converted eight of their 15 free throw attempts and was one of the factors of the game according to North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell.

"The foul line was the difference, the numbers don't lie," Hatchell said.

The game was a rematch of last season's national semifinal matchup that featured a eight-point second half comeback by the Lady Vols en route to a 56-50 win. It looked like UNC might return the favor for much of the second half, but couldn't find a way to gain the lead.

Despite the loss Hatchell said that she was proud of her team's effort.

"I hope you were impressed with my team tonight, because I sure was," she said.

The Tar Heels dominated the paint for most of the game. They finished with a 57-39 advantage on rebounds and a 60-32 margin on points in the paint. Forward Erlana Larkins led UNC with 22 points and 15 rebounds and was a force down low all night.

"We didn't have (an) answer for Larkins," UT coach Pat Summitt said.

Summitt had center Nicky Anosike on Larkins for much of the game, but after picking up her fourth foul only minutes into the second half Anosike was forced to the bench. The senior came back in late in the game and provided UT with a solid defender down low.

“Nicky is what we call the ‘X-factor,’" Hatchell said. "She’s really good at passing the ball and finding open players. She really helps when she’s out on the floor. I think she is one of their best players, and I don’t think she gets the credit she deserves.”

The Lady Vols were led by Hornbuckle's 25 points on 9 of 11 shooting. Though Hornbuckle could have cost the Lady Vols with her late foul, she helped pace the offense early on accounting for 15 of her team's 42 points in the first half.

"She looked for good shots and didn’t force things," Summitt said. "That is the difference between this year and last year. It is about being efficient."

The win wasn't all good news for the Lady Vols though. The team announced that 6-foot-6 freshman Kelley Cain will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on her right knee. Cain has experienced swelling in the irritation in the knee since she she stepped on a defender's foot in a practice. Her rehabilitation time is estimated for eight months.

Player of the game: Alexis Hornbuckle: She almost allowed North Carolina to get back into the game by fouling UNC freshman Rebecca Gray on a late 3-point attempt, but sealed the Lady Vols win with a final layup. The senior finished with a game high 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Play of the game: UNC guard Rebecca Gray missed the second of her three free-throws with five seconds remaining with the Tar Heels down by three sealing the UT win.

Next up for North Carolina: vs. Wofford, Dec. 9.

Next up for Tenenssee: vs. Old Dominion, Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

Lady Vols survive crazy finish

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- It was a crazy finish, but No. 1 Tennessee held on to a late lead for the 83-79 win over No. 4 North Carolina despite fouling UNC's Aaron Gray on a 3-point shot with five-seconds remaining.

Gray made the first shot, but missed the second and the third one intentionally. Tennessee's Nicky Anosike found Alexis Hornbuckle past halfcourt for the layup to seal the win.

UNC run gets them back in the game

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Just as it looked like Tennessee would cruise to a double digit win over No. 4 North Carolina the Tar Heels have made a run scoring nine straight points to cut the lead to 74-72. The Lady Vols have turned the ball twice during their three minute scoreless sterak and have missed multiple layups.

Scoreless drought for Tar Heels

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- No. 4 North Carolina has gone on a four minute scoreless drought as No. 1 Tennessee holds a 74-61 lead. Tennessee led 62-61 with 10:38 remaining, but has used free throw shooting and Tar Heel turnovers to build their lead.

UNC point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid has fouled out of the game forcing the Tar Heels to go to the bench. DeGraffenreid had played almost the entire game up to that point.

Turnovers costly for UNC

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- North Carolina's turnovers helped Tennessee have a late comeback in last year's Final Four and their allowing the Lady Vols to stretch the lead tonight.

The Tar Heels have turned the ball over four times in the last two minutes helping UT build a 71-61 lead.

UNC continues to dominate the boards

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- No. 4 North Carolina has used strong play on the boards and a few questionable calls to cut the Tennessee lead to 60-57.

The Tar Heels already have over 20 offensive rebounds and have 24 second chance points. The referees have called a few questionable charge calls that haven't made the Lady Vol fans happy and they're letting them know it.

Lady Vols stretch the lead to double digits

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Candace Parker has four quick points in the opening part of the first half and No. 1 Tennessee has stretched their two-point halftime lead to 10 against No. 4 North Carolina.

Parker scored twice in the paint then Alex Fuller made a spin move in the post for a hook shot to bring the lead to double digits. UT leads 55-45.

Four fouls for Anosike

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Forward Nicky Anosike picked up her fourth foul of the game less than two minutes into the second half. She was the primary defender on North Carolina forward Erlana Larkins who has 16 points.

The Lady Vols lead 51-45 with 18 minutes remaining.

UNC dominant in the paint

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- No. 4 North Carolina used strong play down low to tie the game for much of the first half against No. 1 Tennessee, but a late layup from Alex Fuller gave the Lady Vols a 42-40 halftime lead.

UNC has 32 of its 40 points inside the paint, including 16 off second chance opportunities.

Tennessee jumped out to an eight-point lead with six minutes remaining, but a late UNC run helped close the gap. Forward Erlana Larkins's 11 pointsand eight rebounds leads UNC.

Alexis Hornbuckle has led the way for UT with 15 points and five rebounds in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting. All-American Candace Parker has struggled early on going 2 of 8 from the field for 6 points. Parker got off to a quick start scoring four points in the opening minutes, but struggled the rest of the way.

On a side note the Lady Vols public relations program just had a talent contest to give away a cruise to a Tennessee student and the winner made a really catchy "Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer" remix about the Lady Vols team. The crowd loved it and put Thompson-Boling arena in the Christmas spirit.

Things to watch for in the second half: Tennessee on the boards- The Lady Vols were outrebounded 30-21 in the first half. If Tennessee is going to pull off the win they will have to improve their play down low.

Player to watch: Alexis Hornbuckle- The senior guard shot 75 percent from the field and seemed to provide Tennessee with a spark while other players struggled. She'll need to continue to score if Parker can't find the bottom of the net.

Oompa Loompa Doopity Doo

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- North Carolina fans started to chant "Oompa Loompa" while 5-2 Tennessee point guard Shannon Bobbitt was shooting free throws. Maybe they don't realize that their freshman guard Cetera DeGraffenreid is no taller than 5-4. The Lady Vols have jumped out to a 29-22 lead after a 8-0 run.

A good day for California

BERKELEY, Calif - After the Golden Bears beat Vanderbilt 67-59, a large group of fans gathered around the a television at Haas Pavilion to watch CSTV's coverage of the NCAA men's water polo championship game.

Just like the women's basketball team, the men's water polo team also go the win, beating USC 8-5.

Nothing like a national championship to get over losing to Stanford in The BIg Game, right?

Anyway, back to basketball, and Cal was all smiles after the game and most of the praise went to the Contra Costa Times Classic MVP, Rama N'diaye.

The sophomore N'diaye, who hales from Senegal via Japan, had a breakout game, scoring 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three blocks in the win.

Cal best know player, Ashley Walker, told a funny story about how difficult it was N'diaye to adjust to her new country last year.

"In April, after the season was over, Rama came up to me and asked what 'hard work' meant,'" Walker said with a laugh. "But this year she has a lot more confidence and is playing great. I call here Rama Star, because she is a beast out there."

Walker had a good game herself, leading the squad with 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win.

From the outside, the Bears leaned on Alexis Gray-Lawson, who scored 16 points and hit half of her 3-point attempts (3-6).

Coach Joanne Boyle was happy about how her team played (except for free-throw shooting) and thought the win over Vanderbilt was one the biggest of the season.

"Whenever you beat a Top 25 team it's important," Boyle said. "We lost one to Baylor earlier in the year, but getting the win tonight makes a statement to the selection committee."

The faces on Vanderbilt weren't as glowing, as the Commodores only had time to take a few questions before rushing to the airport in hopes of making their flight back to Tennessee.

Playing two games in less than 24 hours looked to have an effect on the Commodores from the press seats, and coach Melanie Balcomb agreed.

"We came out flat and the players that usually hit shots didn't hit shots," Balcomb said. "We didn't start playing well until we didn't have anytihing to lose in the final eight minutes. We needed to play the whole game like that."

Player of the Game: N'diaye was named tournament MVP, but I still think Walker was the most valuable player today. She scored pretty much when she wanted to, but it was her defense that gave them the most trouble.

Play of the Game: Again, I have to go Walker and her block in the first half (look back through my posts to read the details). It showed Vandy, we are bigger, stronger and more physical than you.

Quote of the game: When N'diaye was asked how she felt about being tournament MVP, N'diaye, who is currently learning English and already knows three other languages said, "It feels pretty good, I'm so happy.

Back and forth battle in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- No. 1 Tennessee and No. 4 North Carolina have come out running early on as the Tar Heels hold an early 19-18 advantage. The lead has shifted back and forth multiple times, but it's been the Tar Heels dominance in the paint that has given them the lead.

Eighteen of UNC's 19 points have come inside the paint. Candace Parker and Angie Bjorklund have struggled for Tennessee and are a combined 2-11 from the field.

UNC goes for revenge against Lady Vols

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-No. 4 North Carllina will be looking to avenge a Final Four loss last season as they travel to Knoxville to face No. 1 Tennessee. The Tar Heels won the regular season matchup between the two teams 70-57, but couldn't hold on to a big lead in the national semifinal game as they fell 56-50.

The Tar Heels held a 48-36 lead with under nine minutes remaining, but were held to two points on their last 15 possessions as UT used the comeback to get the win on their way to their seventh national championship game.

The Tar Heels have started out 7-0 on the year and have only one win by less than 15 points on the year. Tennessee has started out 5-0 and has already beaten three nationally ranked teams.

UNC has replaced former All-American point guard Ivory Latta's production so far this season. Senior forward Erlana Larkins and guard Rashanda McCants have led a UNC offense that has scored 90-plus points in every game but one this season.

Larkins will be defended by a group of UT post players including All-American Candace Parker, who is averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds a game this year.

Both team start a true-freshman. UT's Angie Bjorklund has helped give the Lady Vols a threat from 3-point range, she is avearging 1.8 threes a game. UNC's Cetera DeGraffenreid is the second leading scorer on the Tar Heels team with 12.7 a game.

Tonight's game brings together two of the three winningest coaches in women's basketball history, Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt and UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell. The two are close friends because Hatchell got her master's degree from Tennessee and coached the junior varsity women's team.

The Tennessee students have come out in large numbers for tonight's nationally telivised game. Classes may be ending Tuesday, but hundreds have found time out of their schedule to make it down to Thompson-Boling arena. Expect the 7 p.m. tipoff to be close to a sellout in the 21,000 seat arena.

Cal closes it out

BERKELEY, Calif - It wasn't pretty at the end with the Bears not being able to hit a free throw if thier lives depended on it, but the Bears held on for a 67-59 win.

As the final seconds ticked away, about 15 students in the student section started to cheer:

You know it
You know the story
This is Bear territory

Today it was.

More to come, including reaction, later.

Did I speak too soon?

BERKELEY, Calif - Vandy hits a 3, to make it 63-57 with 35 seconds left, and Cal keeps missing free throws. Stay tuned....

CAL looks primed for its biggest win of the year

BERKELEY, Calif - Vanderbilt did get within eight points, but Cal is now up 10 with 93 seconds left.

Cal has rised in the rankings this year without really beating anyone, until today.

They are big, strong and athletic. And if they can stay out of foul trouble and avoid anymore injuries as the season goes on, they will be a team to watch out for this year.

There is 1:08 left and the Bears still lead by 10.

Commodores hit some 3s, but Cal responds

BERKELEY, Calif. - Jessica Mooney (off the glass) and Chanel Chisholm both hit 3s on back-to-back possesions for Vandy to close the deficit to 11.

But Cal's sharp-shooter, Alexis Gray-Lawson, hit a 3-pointer of her own, to push the lead right back to 14.

Boyle just called a timeout at the 4:02 mark, with the Bears up 57-45.

Cal in complete control

BERKELEY, Calif. - The game isn't over, but it's getting close.

The Bears lead by 18 (51-33) with 7:46 left. Vandy does not look like they are capable of any kind of last minute scoring spree and it seems like just a matter of time now.

Commodores need to make a move - now

BERKELEY, Calif. - There is 11:23 left and the Bears lead 47-30.

The Bears don't look as sharpe as they did the first half, but Vaderbilt isn't taking advantage as they continue to miss open shots from behid the arc.

Vandy guard Lauren Lueders just yelled to here team, "Let's Go!," and Vandy needs to go right now.

As I type, Lueders just hit a 3-pointer, so it's 47-33 with 10:19 left.

Postgame Comments

After Georgia's 71-64 victory over Ga. Tech, the players and coaches had the following to say about today's game...

In front off 6,816 fans in Athens, the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (8-0) defeated Georgia Tech (5-1) 71-64, outscoring the Jackets by 15 in the second half. The Bulldogs were led by senior forward Tasha Humphrey, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds.

The Jackets were ahead 33-25 at half time, and were keeping Georgia off balance in the first half with an up tempo high pressure defense. In the second half, the Bulldogs made adjustments and hit many shots from the outside to put the game back in their favor.

The Bulldogs shot 14-21 in the second half, compared with shooting 9-30 in the second half. They hit four second half three point field goals, and also hit 14-16 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

For Georgia Tech, freshman guard Iasia Hemingway was the difference maker in the first half, and was the team's leading scorer with 22 points. However, 17 of those points came in the first half as she was ineffective in driving to the basket in the second half against the Bulldogs' zone defense.

Senior guard Chioma Nnamaka scored 18 points (14 in the second half) to keep the Jackets in the game. 9 of those points came from behind the 3-point line. While those shots helped to keep Tech in contention, it was not enough to give them the advantage.

The key moments were between the last five minutes of the first half, and the first five of the second half. Before heading to the locker room, Georgia Tech went on an 11-3 run aided by Hemingway's success in driving the lane. Many of those opportunities came off of Georgia turnovers that were forced by Tech's trapping defense.

In the first five minutes of the second half, it was clear that the Bulldogs would have no more of that. They scored the first five points of the half to bring the game within three at 33-30. From there, Georgia was able to beat the press by making long passes down the sidelines and up the middle of the floor.

While Georgia was able to come back from behind and win this game, one thing was made clear by tonight's action. Georgia Tech has closed the gap in this rivalry series that has been dominated by the Bulldogs completely.

The Bulldogs will continue their schedule next Sunday with an afternoon match-up against Davidson. Meanwhile, the Jackets will try to get back on the winning track with a game Thursday night against USC Upstate.


For Georgia Tech

#24 UGA Tasha Humphrey:

On Tech's press: "They had been pressing all yeaer, so we expected it."

On Hemingway's performance: "We gave her a chance to drive too many times in this game and she took advantage of it."

On the rivalry: "It means everything. I don't think there is anything like Georgia-Georgia Tech."

#1 UGA Ahsley Houts

On free throw shooting down the stretch: "We knew that it was key. As a team, we had been struggling...We knew that it was a close game, and knew that we had to hit those free throws at the end to win."

On playing against Tech's press defense: "It was hard. They were face guarding me all game, and attacking the ball well. Our game plan carried through though and we were able to make some key plays to get the win."

On how UGA beat the press in the 2nd half: "We made some halftime adjustments by sending more people down the sideline and up the middle. In the first half, we were rushed. We slowed things down in the 2nd half and got control of the game."

On shooting better from the outside in the 2nd half: "When things are going well inside, the kick outs start to get open on the outside. You have to learn to relax and not rush your shots."

GT Coach MaChelle Joseph

"It was a battle out there; there's no doubt about it. Igive both teams credit. I think both teams played their hearts out there. I'm very proud of my team and the way they competed. We had some freshmen step up big in a big game and do some great things out there."

On UGA's zone defense in the 2nd half: "They started forcing us back to the top of the key. We srettled for jumpers on the outside instead of driving to the rim."

On missing open shots: "We had 70 shots, and missed a lot of open looks from the free throw line and from the outside."

On Iasia's success: "I wish it was a part of the game plan, but Iasia just did most of the work on her own today."

On the rivalry: "We look forward to the challenge of playing Georgia. Whether they want to admit it or not, this is a battle."

UGA Coach Andy Landers:

"I think we played better than Tech in the second half. We rebounded very well in the second half and shot free throws well coming down the stretch. We probably shouldn't have made all of those turnovers, but we fought through those mistakes."

On the rivalry, coach Landers noted that while Tech has made the games closer over the past five years, the games overall importance still lacks what their games against LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have.

N'diaye leaves with injury, then returns

BERKELEY, Calif. - The Haas Pavilion crowd held its breat watching center Rama N'diaye hold her back as she stumbled off the floor early in the second half.

But after getting some treatment behind the bench, she quickly returned to the game and looks fine. With 15:27 left, Cal is still in control, up 42-25.

Cal is doing everything right, Vandy isn't

BERKELEY, Calif - The halflime entertainment here at Cal is four modern dancers led by a guy with a red mohawk - only in Berkeley :).

But in the first half, the entertainment were the Golden Bears, as they hold a 36-19 lead in the half.

Cal's Natashia Vital drove to the hoop and passed to Senegal's Rama N'diaye for a bucket at the horn to cap an impressive opening 20 minutes.

D'diaye is leading all scores with 10 points, Lauren Greig has eight points and Ashley Walker has seven points.

As a team, Cal shot 60 percent from the field and 75 percent (3-4) from behind the arc.

For Vaderbilt, there minds seem to be on their upcoming finals and not on this game.

The Comodores shot 24 percent from the field and went 3-14 (21 percent) on 3s.

Merideth Marsh leads the team with seven points, but she went 3-10 from the field (1-6 on 3-pointers).

Something to look for in the second half is Cal head caoch Joanne Boyle doesn't go to the bench often (only six players played in teh first half). So we will see if fatigue is a factor for the Bears in the second half.

Also, the Bears haven't beat a ranked opponent since they beat Stanford on Feb. 4 72-57. We'll see if the Commodores can keep that streak going, but as of now, it doesn't look likely.

Bulldogs Win

Athens, Ga. --- The final score from here in Athens is 71-64. Georgia outscored the Jackets by 15 points in the second half with the help of four second half 3-point shots and ten free throws from guard Ashley Houts. I will return with post game remarks...

Free Throws Sinking Tech

Athens, Ga. --- After shooting 62% from the charity stripe over the first 30 minutes of the game, the Georgia Bulldogs have really put this game away with their free throw shooting at the end. Sophomore forward Angel Robinson hit two to put UGA up by 6 with 35 seconds to go.

After a quick bucket by Tech, the game is back to four and the Dogs are going back to the line after another quick foul. The score is UGA 65-61 with 30 seconds to play.

Walker gets the crowd roaring, Vandy looks lost

BERKELEY, Calif - Askhel;y Walker, who leads the Pac-10 in scoring (21.6), has seven points today but it is her defense that got the crowd on its feet.

Vandy's Meredith Marsh drove to the basket, but her layup was slammed away by Walker and the crowd loved it. At the 3:03 mark, it's still all California, with the Bears up 24-15.

Another Vandy Timeout, Cal keeps it going

BERKELEY, Calif - Turnovers are killing the Commodores right now and Bears transition game is producing easy buckets. The band is playing, the the crowd is cheering and the Bears are up 17-7.

UGA Finishing the Game

Athens, Ga. --- Free throws have been the key for Georgia down the stretch. The Bulldogs are now in the bonus with 38 seconds left to play. They lead by four 63-59 as guard Ashley Houts has hit six free throws to keep the Bulldogs ahead.

Meanwhile, on defense they are playing a 2-3 zone which hass completely shut down Tech's Hemingway.

Senegal represented in California

The highlight of Senegal sports was when its soccer team beat France in the 2002 World Cup, but the African country also plays a little basketball and Rama N'diaye is proving it today.

Vanderbilt hasn't found an answer fro the 6-foot-5 center, as she has scored six points in the first 10 minutes. As I type, Cal is up 15-7.

Cal gets hot

Vaderbilt misses a a layup and Cal point guard Natasha Vital bolts down the floor and finds Lauren Greif for a jumper to put the bears up 11-5.

Melanie Balcomb calls timeout.

Georgia Takes the Lead

Athens, Ga. --- UGA takes their first lead of the second half at 56-54 with a three from senior guard Megan Darrah. The Bulldogs have now hit four threes in the second half, and that has been the difference to this point.

With 3:21 to go in the game, the Jackets have tied it back up with a jump shot by Tech's senior forward Janie Mitchell. She currently has the hot hand for the Jackets as she has scored their last two buckets.

Georgia has the ball after the timeout with a chance to retake the lead. It has been a second half controlled by the Bulldogs.

Both teams look sluggish

Neither team is in a groove early, with bodies flying and balls droping every which way in the first four minutes. Thanks to a Lauren Lueders 3-pointer, the Comodores lead 5-4 at the 15:23 mark.

There is decent sized crowd here at Haas Pavilion, which has a lot (o everything) to do with the university allowing everyone in for free for the Contra Costa Times Classic.

No. 12 Bears battle No. 18 Vanderbilt

BERKELEY, Calif - It's a day of morning here at Berkeley after the Bears handed over the axe to Stanford yesterday, but forget about football, it's women's basketball time.

The Bears (6-1) come into today's matchup against the Vanderbilt Commodores with wins its last two games, including a win over St. Mary's (77-61) on Friday.

Vandy is looking to get two win here in Berkeley on its West Coast trip.

And they are tipping off...

Going Down To The Wire...

Athens, Ga. --- The score is now 51-49 with Georgia Tech still ahead. However, the Bulldogs have looked like the stronger team over the last three minutes. They are controlling the tempo of the game now, as GT's trapping defense has not had as many opportunities to create turnovers.

Nnamaka Leads Tech

Athens, Ga. --- Georgia Tech has now extended their lead to 49-42. Iasia Hemingway's two point layup and Chioma Nnamaka's three from the outside have helped to start the Jackets' latest run.

With 9:19 to play in the game, UGA must find a way to to beat Tech's trapping defense. Otherwise, the Jackets women's basketball team will travel back to Atlanta with one of the biggest wins in recent history.

Jackets Retake Lead

Athens, Ga. --- With 10:56 to play, the Jackets lead 44-42 over UGA. They responded well to UGA hitting two threes by continuing to play high pressure defense. As the game continues, that defense will become even more of a factor.

Houts...For Three!

Athens, Ga. --- The game is now tied at 35 as UGA's sophomore point guard Ashley Houts just sank a wide open three. Both teams have struggled from the outside all day long, but UGA is starting to find their touch as they sank two 3-point shots in the second half.

As I just typed this, the temp has increased to a frenetic pace. Both teams have hit two threes and the crowd is getting more into the game. More to come...

Bulldogs Off To Fast 2nd Half Start

Athens, Ga. --- With 15:47 to play in the second half, the score is now 35-32 with Ga. Tech still ahead.

However, the story is the 7-2 run that the UGA is on coming out of the locker room. They are in control of the tempo, and have been able to get the ball inside against Tech early on.

UGa's Angela Puleo also hit a key three point shot to bring the Bulldogs within three of the Jackets. In order for Tech to stop this run, they will need to go back to high pressure defense they played in the first half.

Jackets Late First Half Run

Athens, Ga. --- Going into the locker room, the Jackets are poised to make an upset bid as they lead at half time 33-25. To finish the half, Tech went on a 11-3 run. The game so far has revolved around the number 34.

UGA's #34 Tasha Humphrey has been the difference maker when she has had the ball. She is the Dogs leading scorer 12 points. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Tech's stingy defense has doubled down on her and forced Georgia to run the floor with them. This has kept UGA from taking advantage of their size advantage on the interior.

For GT, #34 freshman guard Iasia Hemingway has 17 first half points, and was a key factor in Tech's run going into the locker room. She played intense defense to pick up many fast break points, and was successful in driving to the basket in the Jackets' half court set.

For Tech, they need to continue with more of the same in order to win. For UGA, they need to find some way to get Tasha Humphrey involved with the offense again.

Jackets Hanging Around

Athens, Ga. --- The score is now 13-11 UGA. The Bulldogs leading scorer is Tasha Humphrey with 7 points. However, she has been remarkably absent since the first timeout in this game.

Tech is now in control of the tempo of this game forcing UGA to play more transition offense, which takes away some of Humphrey's advantage. The Bulldogs are taking many long shots, and not hitting from that range.

Meanwhile, the Jackets plan so far has been to drive straight to the bucket. It will be interesting to see how the contrast between these two plays out the rest of the way.

First Timeout

ATHENS, Ga. - UGA's Tasha Humphrey is ball hawk right now. She is collecting everything that comes off of the glass on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Tech's defense will need to collapse down on her in order to keep the Bulldogs from picking up easy buckets in the post.

The score s now 6-3 UGA with 15:46 to play in the first half.

Tip-Off

ATHENS, Ga. -- Tasha Humphrey started the game off for Georgia by scoring the first four points of the game. The Jackets also started off aggressively, but not on the scoreboard. In the first minute and a a half of the game, Tech picked up three personal fouls.

With 17:30 to play in the first, the score is 4-0 UGA.

Good Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate

Athens, Ga. ---

The above title refers to the namesake of the rivalry between No. 7 Georgia(7-0) and Georgia Tech(5-0). When these two teams get together, it doesn't matter if they are playing horseshoes. The fans and players involved all know what is at stake in such a heated rivalry.

In the stands, the fans have already started chanting back-and-forth: "Yellow!" "Jackets!" "Georgia!" "Bulldogs!"

The host Bulldogs are the favorite in this match-up as they should be in dominating the series against Tech. The Lady Bulldogs are led by senior forward Tasha Humphrey. On the season, she is averaging 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

The Lady Jackets will need a top performance out of their senior leader guard Chioma Nnamaka. She has averaged 20 points per game, and is the focus of Tech's scoring.

The game is a little under 15 minutes away, and Stegeman Coliseum is slowly filling in, with what looks to be a decent sized crowd.

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