CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Virginia Commonwealth University junior forward Courtney Hurt posted her seventh straight double-double with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, and classmate Sonia Johnson added a career-high 20 points but it wasn't enough as the Rams' rally came up short in a 68-65 loss against Charlotte Saturday afternoon at Halton Arena.
VCU (3-4) falls for the third time in its last four games, while Charlotte (8-2) picks up its fifth straight victory. Prior to today's game, the 49ers had won their last four by at least 15 points and entered the week 30th in the nation with a +16.1 scoring margin. Its three-point victory against VCU was the closest of any of Charlotte's eight wins this season.
Johnson, who shot 7 of 8 from the field including 2 of 2 from 3-point range, posted a career-high in points for the second game in a row. She had 19 at Coppin State on Wednesday. Hurt (pictured, left) and Johnson combined to score 44 of VCU's 65 points, while junior Jennifer Lane added seven and senior Jessica Taylor chipped in five with four assists.
Johnson scored eight of the first 10 points for VCU and the Rams took an early 10-6 advantage at the 14:16 mark. Down four less than a minute later, Charlotte used a 15-2 spurt spanning 7:13 and went up 23-14 on a jumper by Jennifer Hailey with 5:26 to go before the break.
It was the last time Charlotte would find the basket however, as the VCU defense turned up the pressure and held the 49ers scoreless the rest of the half. Hurt scored six of the final 11 points and freshman Jacqueline Brewer gave the Rams a 25-23 lead on a jumper with 1:19 remaining. VCU forced five turnovers and limited the 49ers to 0 of 6 shooting during the final stretch of the period.
It was much of the same in the second half as neither team led by more than three points during the first eight minutes. But after Hurt knotted the score at 40-40 with 11:44 to go, Charlotte responded with an 18-6 spurt to pull ahead 58-46 with 4:59 remaining.
A jumper by Taylor ended the spree and sparked a 14-4 VCU run, and Lane pulled the Rams within 62-60 on a free throw with 1:21 left. Charlotte quickly responded and reeled off six straight to build an eight-point advantage with 24 seconds showing. Hurt and Lane each hit layups in the final five seconds to cut the 49ers' lead to 68-65, but it was too late for VCU to finish its rally.
Epiphany Woodson led three Charlotte players in double-figures with 19 points. Shannon McCallum added 13 and Hailey chipped in 10 and a team-high eight rebounds.
Entering today's game VCU had won four of the previous six meetings against Charlotte, including an 80-67 victory in the opening round of the 2008 Postseason WNIT.
VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena to face in-state foe Longwood on Saturday, Dec. 18. Tip-off is set for approximately 4 p.m., immediately following the men's basketball game against Tulane.