RICHMOND, Va. – Senior guard Kita Waller and sophomore forward Courtney Hurt registered 27 points apiece and Virginia Commonwealth University advanced to the third round of the Postseason WNIT with an 84-65 victory against Hofstra University Sunday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
VCU, which is making its third straight postseason appearance, improves to 22-12 on the year and reaches the third round of the WNIT for the first time in program history. The Rams lost in the second round in 2008. Hofstra concludes its season with a 20-14 mark.
"This win was fantastic," said VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham. "Those first 20 minutes might have been the best basketball that we have played all season on both ends of the floor. Our kids just really came out with a great focus and intensity for what we were trying to do today. We were really fortunate to have another home date on our schedule."
For the second game in a row, a pair of VCU players combined to score more than 50 points as the duo of Waller and Hurt provided 54 for the Rams on Sunday. Hurt and senior forward D'Andra Moss combined for 56 points at Saint Joseph's in the WNIT's first round Thursday.
Sophomore guard Jennifer Lane contributed nine points, while junior guard Ebony Patterson added eight and Moss chipped in seven points and 10 rebounds for VCU.
Hofstra was led by senior guard Sam Brigham's 17 points. Sophomore guard Candice Bellocchio scored 13, while freshman forward Shante Evans and senior center Jess Fuller added eight points and seven rebounds apiece for the Pride.
VCU jumped out to an early 13-4 lead after a three-point play by Waller at the 15:41 mark in the opening period. Hofstra would pull within six twice over the next minute before the Rams used a 12-2 run spanning three minutes to go ahead 27-11 with 11:16 showing.
Hofstra cut the lead to 31-20 with 4:25 to go before the break but VCU, which shot 61.8 percent (21-of-34) in the first half, scored 19 of the final 21 points of the period and took a 50-22 lead into the locker room.
"On both ends of the floor we executed about as close to perfection as we could," Cunningham said when reflecting on VCU's first half performance. "Defensively, we certainly understood our game plan and we forced them to do some things they didn't want to do. We were hitting shots and executing on offense. It just seemed like things were going exactly how we wanted them to go. We really couldn't have drawn it up any better."
VCU went ahead 65-37 on a layup by Waller with 9:42 left before Hofstra scored nine straight and pulled with 19 points on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Nicole Capurso with 8:02 showing. However, it was as close as the Pride would get the rest of the way.
VCU, which will be on the road in the third round of the WNIT, will face the winner of Monday night's Syracuse/Richmond matchup. Game date and time will be announced late Monday evening.