The CAA seems to love spoiling the A10's perfect days. On Saturday, when the A10 won in two big upsets (Temple trouncing Tennessee and UMass beating Kansas in Kansas City) and won just about every other non conference game, VCU came from behind and beat Richmond on its home court 77-76. Eric Maynor led the way with 23 points as the Rams shot 53 percent from the field including 52 percent 10 of 19 from beyond the three point arc. VCU overcame a second half ten point deficit. The A10 was undefeated in their nine other non conference games.
Then last night, when the A10 won their other three non conference games, again a CAA team spoiled the A10 party as Old Dominion drubbed Duquesne on the Dukes' home court 86-60. All five starters for the Monarchs scored in double figures led by Gerald Lee's 15. In fact, the Monarchs' eight players each had 7 points or more. ODU shot 70 percent from the field in the second half and 56 percent for the game. Old Dominion is 3-0 vs the A10 (wins over Charlotte, Richmond and now Duquesne).
The CAA is currently 7-3 vs the A10 with several games left between members of the two conferences. Speaking of the CAA, I saw Hofstra give a terrific defensive effort against St. Francis last Saturday afternoon. The Pride held the Terriers to 33 percent from the field and outrebounded them 57-33. Charles Jenkins nearly had a triple double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Greg Washington continued his impressive play with 9 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The Pride are now 8-1 and face, guess what, an A10 team on the road, when they travel to UMass tomorrow.
I always love when they call a game a neutral game in one team's home state. Even better is when they call a site neutral, when its located 90 minutes from the one team's campus. Such was the case when #4 Gonzaga played Arizona in Phoneix on Sunday. The Zags could not overcome a horrendous 6 of 20 day from beyond three and lost to the Wildcats 69-64. Austin Daye led Gonzaga with 22 points but Jeremy Pargo and Josh Heytvelt combined to shoot only 3 of 14 from the field and only had 10 points between them. Gonzaga won a tuneup game last night, downing winless Texas Southern 84-42. The tuneup game is in preparation for their showdown against #2 UConn tomorrow.
Finally give some major credit to Coach Gary Waters and Cleveland State. The Vikings finally got their signature win when Cedric Jackson hit a three pointer from 60 feet to beat #11 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome 72-69. Waters wasn't even looking at the shot when it was going in. In an interview with ESPN, Waters stated he turned to one of his assistants and said that he guessed it was time to prepare for overtime. After suffering a heartbreaking buzzer beater loss at home to Butler, and after being ahead at West Virginia at half only to lose that game, the Vikings finally closed out a big win. Waters has done a tremendous job with Cleveland State as the Vikings won 20 games last season for the first time in ages and made the NIT. Its not surprising, since Waters built up Kent State, leaving right for Rutgers before the Golden Flashes made the Elite Eight. In his tenure at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights made the NIT three times in his five seasons. Notice Rutgers has not been very good since he left. And if you think about it, Waters is also responsible for putting Antonio Gates and Quincy Douby on the national scene (Gates is more well known obviously for being an all pro with the Chargers, but he was a major force on that Kent State team that made the Elite Eight in 2001-02). Pretty good coach if you ask me.