7:00 PM ET, February 21, 2008
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- With a halftime strategy that called for pounding the ball inside, Old Dominion's Jasmine Parker made sure the Lady Monarchs could make it work.Once Virginia Commonwealth tried to close off the middle, Parker made them pay, hitting her fourth 3-pointer in as many tries as the Lady Monarchs stayed on track for their first unbeaten season in the Colonial Athletic Association in seven years."We knew that if they went in, the post players were just going to pass it out, so we just had to be ready to shoot at all times," Parker said after leading the Lady Monarchs (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) with 16 points in their 87-67 victory against the Rams on Thursday night.The Lady Monarchs (23-3, 14-0 CAA), seeking their 17th consecutive league title and first unbeaten season in the CAA since 2001-02, scored 40 points in the paint, 24 more on 8-for-13 3-point shooting and made 17 of 19 free throws in the second half.The game was physical throughout."When you're one of the top teams, we have a lot to play for and they really have nothing to lose, so they're going to come at us like that," said Jazzmin Walters, who took an elbow to the face that sent her to the sideline for part of the first half."We just have to maintain our composure, our poise, throughout the game."They did it with the help of depth that allowed them to pressure the ball when they wanted, to run throughout and to overcome 24 turnovers with fresh bodies."We have people coming off the bench that can give us just as much as the starters can," Walters said, mentioning Parker and Jessica Canady, who scored four points.Tiffany Green and T.J. Jordan scored 14 each, Walters had 13 and Shahida Williams 12. Green also grabbed 10 rebounds, Megan Pym grabbed nine and Williams eight.The Rams (19-6, 9-5), playing only their second game since post player Quanitra Hollingsworth was lost for the season with an injury, were within 10 at halftime, but could do little to stop the Lady Monarchs once they turned their attention inside.Old Dominion's first six possessions of the second half yielded layups, and once the Rams tried collapsing to cut off the inside, Parker hit her fourth 3-pointer."The critical stretch was coming out of halftime," Rams coach Beth Cunningham said. "We gave them too many easy shots. ... We dug ourselves a big hole."The Lady Monarchs' ability to score down low and outside forced VCU into a mode of "pick your poison," Cunningham said, and her team was slow to adapt defensively."The first half, they hit all those threes," Radoslava Bachvarova said of the Lady Monarchs' 5-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc that was discussed at the break. "We were thinking about not giving them those threes and gave them too many open looks."Parker's last 3 made it 50-34 with 16:22 to play, and while the Rams never let the game get completely out of hand, the Lady Monarchs' sloppiness had a lot to do with it.Old Dominion finished with 24 turnovers.Bachvarova led the Rams with 17 points, D'Andra Moss added 15 and Krystal Vaughn had 13 and 11 rebounds for VCU. The Rams scored 19 points off turnovers.The Lady Monarchs led 35-25 at halftime largely on the strength of a 15-2 run in the middle of the half. Parker did most of the damage for the visitors, hitting three 3-pointers in 3 1/2 minutes after coming on when Walters was injured on a drive to the basket.VCU outscored the Lady Monarchs 9-4 over the last 2:20 of the half, getting a 3-pointer from Bachvarova with 8 seconds left before intermission to make it 35-25.
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