RICHMOND, Va. – Junior forward Courtney Hurt (pictured, left) led all scorers with a game-high 17 points and seven rebounds and Virginia Commonwealth University cruised to a 64-46 victory against George Mason University Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
VCU, which surrendered a season-low 46 points, won its fourth straight and improves to 8-5 on the season with a perfect 3-0 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play. Meanwhile, George Mason slips to 7-7, 1-2 in CAA action. Entering today's contest, the Patriots had won five of their last six outings after beginning the year 2-5.
"I think we probably played one of our best games defensively today, and maybe one of our best all-around games of the season," said VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham. "We really came out with a sense of urgency from the beginning of the game and it was critical for us to get off to a good start. Limiting them to 15 points in the first half and to defend the way we did the entire game, I'm really proud of the way we played."
Junior guard Jennifer Lane added nine points, five rebounds, three assists and a block for VCU, while freshman Robyn Parks (pictured, below) posted career highs with eight points and seven boards. Junior Andrea Barbour and sophomore Sonia Johnson collected eight points apiece for the Rams. With just seven rebounds, Hurt's NCAA-leading streak of 12 straight double-doubles comes to an end.
The first nine minutes of the contest featured five ties as VCU led by no more than two points. A jumper by senior Jessica Taylor gave the Rams a 12-10 advantage at the 11:17 mark but a Brittany Eley 3-pointer gave George Mason a one-point lead, its first of the game, on the ensuing possession. Brittany Poindexter then put the Patriots on top 15-12 following a layup with 10:12 to go.
It was the last time George Mason would score in the half, however, as VCU reeled off 16-straight to close the period and took a 28-15 advantage into the locker room.
The Rams pushed their lead to 33-15 on a free throw by Johnson at the 18:09 mark before Angelee LaTouche hit a pair from the line to end a nearly 12-minute scoring drought for George Mason.
A layup by Taleia Morton cut the VCU lead to 40-24 with 15:14 remaining but it was as close as the Patriots would get. The Rams' lead ballooned to as many as 26 points following a bucket by Barbour with 9:10 showing and VCU held at least an 18-point advantage the rest of the way.
The Rams committed a season-low six turnovers, its fewest in more than 10 years.
"We did a great job valuing the basketball on every possession," said Cunningham. "It was great to see us come out and take care of the ball the way we did, and to give ourselves an opportunity to score every time down the floor."
Meanwhile, VCU forced 12 George Mason miscues and held a 43-31 advantage on the glass, including a 22-7 margin in second-chance points.
"I think the way we defended and rebounded created easy points for us on the offensive end of the floor," Cunningham continued. "It was a well-balanced scoring attack as a lot of kids stepped up, hit shots and made big plays for us."
The Rams have won six straight and nine of the last 10 meetings against George Mason.
VCU returns to action on Jan. 13 for a 7 p.m., matchup at Towson. The Rams then welcome Northeastern to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Jan. 16 at Noon. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.