January 6, 2011

VCU EARNS HARD FOUGHT, 70-58, WIN AGAINST UNC WILMINGTON

RICHMOND, Va. – Junior forward Courtney Hurt (pictured, left) scored 25 of her school-record-tying 35 points in the second half and posted her NCAA-leading 12th straight double-double to lead Virginia Commonwealth University to a 70-58 victory against UNC Wilmington Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

VCU has won three straight and four of its last five outings and improves to 7-5 with a 2-0 mark in CAA play. UNC Wilmington falls to 9-4, 1-1 in league action.

"Tonight was a great win for us," said VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham.  "UNC Wilmington was one of the hottest teams coming into this game and we knew this would be a big opportunity for us at home.  We're disappointed with the way we started to say the least, but fortunately by halftime we found a way to [tie the score].

"I thought we showed a lot of character, especially down the stretch in the last eight minutes.  They were coming into the game at the top of the conference in scoring and it was a great defensive effort by our team to hold them to just 27 points in the second half.  I'm proud of our girls for finding a way to come up with the win."

Junior guard Andrea Barbour contributed 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals for VCU.  Barbour, who became eligible on Dec. 23 after transferring from Patrick Henry Community College, is averaging 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per outing in three games with the Rams.  Sophomore forward Daphne Adebayo contributed eight points on a perfect 4 of 4 shooting off the bench.

UNC Wilmington hit its first four from the field and jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead at the 17:15 mark.  VCU scratched back and pulled within six twice over the next three minutes but the Seahawks pushed their lead to 25-13 on a jumper by Jessica Cohen with 9:04 showing.

VCU stormed back with a 16-2 run spanning six minutes to take its first lead of the game.  A fast break layup by Barbour (pictured, right) pulled the Rams within 27-25 before Hurt and Adebayo each scored baskets to give VCU a 29-27 advantage with 2:26 to go in the opening period.  A 3-pointer by Jessica Freeman gave the Seahawks a two-point lead with 1:29 to go but Barbour knotted the score at 31-31 on a layup with less than a minute remaining before the break.

Hurt, who surpassed the 30-point plateau for the third time this season, gave VCU a four-point cushion with a pair of free throws with 17:55 left but UNC Wilmington scored 11 of the next 13 points and pulled ahead 44-39 on a Freeman jumper less than four minutes later. 

However, momentum would swing heavily into VCU's favor as the Rams, down 55-50 with 6:46 to go, scored 20 of the final 23 points to close the game and held the Seahawks scoreless over the final 3:09.  Hurt led the charge with 12 points down the stretch, including a layup that put VCU on top for good with 4:26 remaining.

VCU scored 29 points off of a season-high tying 26 UNC Wilmington turnovers.  The Rams, who held a 40-31 advantage on the glass, finished with 38 points in the paint and 29 second-chance points.

It's the second year in a row a VCU player has tied the school's single-game scoring record against UNC Wilmington.  Former Ram Kita Waller scored 35 at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Jan. 28, 2010.

Senior guard/forward Brittany Blackwell led UNC Wilmington with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals, while senior center Martha White chipped in 11 points and just three boards.

VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday, Jan. 9 against George Mason.  Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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