PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Sophomore forward Courtney Hurt and senior forward D'Andra Moss combined to score 56 points as Virginia Commonwealth University pulled away in the second half to defeat St. Joseph's University, 74-63, in the opening round of the WNIT Thursday evening at Hagan Arena.
VCU (21-12) will meet conference foe Hofstra University in the second round on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena. It will mark the second time in the last week and third time this season the Rams will face the Pride. Hofstra advances following a 76-68 victory against Penn State.
Hurt led all scorers with a career-high 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting, while Moss contributed her sixth double-double of the year with 27 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The rest of the Rams combined to score 18 points with seven coming from sophomore guard Jennifer Lane.
St. Joseph's (17-15) was paced by Ashley Logue's 17 points. Katie Kuester added 12 on 4-of-6 shooting from long range and Mariame Djouara chipped in 10 for the Hawks.
VCU got off to an uncharacteristic start committing turnovers on its first two possessions of the game and Saint Joseph's quickly opened with a 4-0 lead. However, the Rams settled down and neither team led by more than six points the entire opening period.
Hurt scored 10 of the first 15 points for VCU and capped off the spurt with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, which gave the Rams a 15-13 advantage at the 12:01 mark. Ebony Patterson followed with a triple on the next possession and VCU went up by five, its largest lead of the half.
Keuster halted the VCU run with back-to-back 3-pointers and St. Joseph's regained the lead at 19-18 two minutes later.
Lane converted a traditional three-point play with 4:44 to go and VCU went back on top 25-24. However, St. Joseph's used a 9-2 run spanning two minutes and pulled ahead 33-27 on a jumper by Djouara.
VCU chipped away and got within 37-36 after Lane hit another jumper with one second left before the break.
St. Joseph's scored 10 of the first 13 points of the second half and matched its largest lead at 46-40 before VCU began to take control of the game. Down six with 15:13 remaining, Moss scored five of the next seven points and the Rams went ahead 47-46 with 13:09 to go.
The Hawks answered with a basket on the ensuing possession but it was the final time they would lead as VCU responded with a 19-6 spurt spanning nearly eight minutes and went on top 66-54 following a pair of Moss free throws with 5:49 left.
St. Joseph's could never get below 10 points the rest of the way.
VCU advances to the second round of the WNIT for the second time in the last three seasons.