Commentary

Runnin' Rebels win Blue Chip Basketball Pre-Season Challenge

Originally Published: April 21, 2008
By Mindi Rice | ESPN HoopGurlz

So rather than run a sprint at Virginia Commonwealth University's gym, the Rebels successfully completed a warm-up lap Sunday, closing their 5-0 A Pool sweep with an 85-35 win against the Pittsburgh Heat.

"We're very new," said Bill McDonough, the Rebels' coach and the PSC tournament director. "There's a rush to get things done."

Sunday started out slow, with the game at just three apiece two minutes in. But much like the sudden downpours outside the arena, fans blinked and the rush was on: 25-11 Rebels.

Five-foot-8 Alysha Womack, a key cog in Philadelphia's 2008 Catholic League champion Cardinal O'Hara's squad, led the Rebels with 13 points in their final game. The Class of 2009 guard led her squad with an average of 12 points per game, including 15 points in both of the team's victories on Saturday.

Crashing the boards and also adding offensive fire was HoopGurlz's No. 34 player in the Class of 2009, 6-foot-1 inside presence Shante Evans, who scored 11 in Sunday's win.

Evans -- who listed Seton Hall, West Virginia, tournament host VCU, Hofstra and Georgetown as her top five schools Saturday -- lit a fire under her teammates Friday, leading them to a 41-36 win against the Hudson Valley Knights of New York.

The Rustin High (West Chester, Pa.) player scored 15 points to get the Rebels running.

"Next week we're playing against the [Philadelphia] Belles and it's going to be our toughest [game] this year," Evans said. "They're our rivals."

2009 guard Katelyn Linney, an addition from New Jersey (Holmdel, N.J./St. John Vianney), made key buckets in Friday afternoon's six-point win against New York's WBA Lake Knicks 16 Black. The 56-50 Rebel win was the Knicks' only loss.

The Rebels' offense improved over the course of the weekend, growing in succession from 41 points to 56 Friday, 63 to 69 Saturday, and then running off 85 points in their finale.

Although the score wasn't their smallest margin of victory, Saturday's 69-60 win against the Connecticut Gold might have been the Rebels' best escape of defeat. The Gold, who lost two six-footers just before the season began, hung with the Rebels until Kerry Wallack, a 5-foot-11, Class of 2010 guard from Daniel Hand (Madison, Conn.), crumpled on her left ankle.

Teammate Casey Dulin, a hustling 5-foot-10, Class of 2010 point guard, couldn't carry all the weight without Wallack's strong shot from behind the arc.

After a 48-all moment, the Rebels cruised to the win, much like they cruised for the weekend -- with Womack (15 points) and Evans (13 points) leading the warm-up for Super Regionals.

Mindi Rice works part-time as a sportswriter at the Tacoma News Tribune and as a barista at Starbucks. She grew up in Seattle, where she attended Roosevelt High School before graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism.

For more in-depth coverage of women's college-basketball prospects and girl's basketball, visit HoopGurlz.com

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