Old Dominion-Virginia AP Preview
GAME: No. 11 Old Dominion (22-8) vs. No. 6 Virginia (20-10).
REGIONAL: Tempe, first round.
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
SITE: Williams Arena; Minneapolis.
Virginia hopes to make its return to the NCAA tournament a memorable one.
The sixth-seeded Cavaliers make their 21st appearance in the last 22 yearsof the NCAA tournament when they face Old Dominion.
Virginia had its streak of 20 straight NCAA appearances snapped last yearafter a disappointing 13-16 season. The Cavaliers have bounced back with astrong season in which they finished fifth in the powerful Atlantic CoastConference.
“This is the first ride in a long stretch, I hope,” Virginia coach DebbieRyan said.
Virginia is hoping to have a healthy LaTonya Blue in the lineup. Blue, asecond team All-ACC selection, missed the conference tournament with an ankleinjury, forcing her to use crutches.
Blue, who averages 12.5 points and 4.3 assists, has been cleared to practiceand is expected to start.
Old Dominion is a familiar opponent for Virginia. The Cavaliers have facedthe Lady Monarchs five times in the last eight seasons, including a 72-64 winin Charlottesville on Dec. 10.
“I think it’s interesting that we’re going to go halfway across the countryto play Old Dominion,” Ryan said. “I think Old Dominion is a different teamthan they were when we played them in (December), but I think we’re a differentteam, too.”
In that last meeting, Jocelyn Logan-Friend led Virginia with 17 points andBlue added 13 for Virginia, which scored 35 points off 30 turnovers by OldDominion. Blue had seven of the Cavaliers’ 16 steals.
Shareese Grant scored 18 points for the Lady Monarchs, who had 10 turnoversin the game’s first six minutes.
It marked Old Dominion’s third straight loss to Virginia since an 86-65 winon Dec. 10, 1999. The Lady Monarchs lead the series 16-12.
Grant is seeking to duplicate her heroics from the Colonial AthleticAssociation tournament, where she scored a career-high 35 points in a 78-74 winover Delaware in the championship game. The senior guard scored 15 of the LadyMonarchs’ final 18 points.
The win clinched Old Dominion’s 14th straight league title.
“We accomplished the feat and Shareese brought us home,” Lady Monarchscoach Wendy Larry said. “We always talked about inviting ourselves to the NCAAtournament. Now, we don’t have to worry.”
PROBABLE STARTERS: Old Dominion – F Tish Lyons (7.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg), F SheridaGriggs (6.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg), F Tiffany Green (10.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg), G Lawona Davis(11.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), G Grant (15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg). Virginia – F Blue (12.5 ppg,5.5 rpg, 4.3 apg), F Logan-Friend (9.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg), C Brandi Teamer (12.7ppg, 6.0 rpg), G Sharnee Zoll (5.4 ppg, 4.9 apg), G Brenna McGuire (6.5 ppg,1.2 rpg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Old Dominion – Automatic bid, CAA tournament champion.Virginia – At-large berth, ACC.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Old Dominion – 32-20, 22 years. Virginia -30-20, 21 years.