January 20, 2011

VCU MOVES INTO SHARE OF FIRST PLACE WITH 63-60 WIN AT OLD DOMINION

NORFOLK, Va. – Junior Courtney Hurt (pictured, left), who posted her NCAA-leading 15th double-double of the season, and sophomore Sonia Johnson each contributed game-highs of 19 points and Virginia Commonwealth University held on to defeat Old Dominion, 63-60, Thursday night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. 

VCU, which moves into a first-place tie atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings, has won six of its last seven and improves to 10-6 overall, 5-1 in the CAA. The Rams snapped Old Dominion's five-game win streak and sends the Lady Monarchs to 11-6, 5-1.

The Rams have won three of the last four meetings in the series, including its last two trips to the Ted Constant Convocation Center.  Aside from last season's 19-point VCU victory, four of the previous five games in the series have been decided by a combined six points.

Junior Andrea Barbour added 11 points and five rebounds for VCU.  Hurt, who also posted 16 rebounds, was limited to just five points in the second half.  She is four points shy of 1,000 in two-plus seasons with the Rams.

Old Dominion took an early 14-6 advantage on a 3-pointer by Jasmine Parker less than five minutes into the contest.  But Johnson halted the Lady Monarchs' 10-0 spurt with a triple from the top of the arc and a jumper by Hurt quickly cut the Old Dominion lead in half.  It didn't take long for Lady Monarchs to answer, however, as Alena Voronina reeled off five straight to put Old Dominion back in front 19-11 with 11:28 showing.

A drive to the basket by Barbour on the following possession ignited a 16-3 run that gave the Rams a 27-22 lead with 4:15 to go in the half.  Old Dominion pulled within 29-26 with 3:06 remaining but it was as close as the Lady Monarchs would get the rest of the period as VCU scored nine of the final 11 and took a 38-28 lead into the locker room.

VCU shot 48.4 percent from the field in the opening stanza and outscored Old Dominion 27-9 over the final 11:22 of the half.  Heading into the break, Hurt registered a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in just 19 minutes, while Barbour chipped in 11 points.

Old Dominion pulled within six with 18:22 to go in the game but VCU scored 10 of the next 12 and junior Jennifer Lane fed Hurt on a fast break to give the Rams their largest lead at 48-34 just three minutes later.

The Rams held the Lady Monarchs to just one field goal over the first 8:30 of the final stanza until a layup by JoNiquia Guilford with 11:29 to go sparked a 6-0 run that pulled Old Dominion within eight at the 9:55 mark.

 VCU pushed its lead back to 12 on a pair of Johnson free throws with 8:22 to go but the Lady Monarchs used a 9-2 spurt capped off by a Jackie Cook 3-pointer and cut the Rams' lead to 56-51 with 4:48 showing.  Following a timeout, VCU went back ahead by seven on the ensuing possession but Old Dominion pulled within 58-56 on a triple by Parker with 2:34 to go.

Johnson (pictured, right) scored the final five points for the Rams on series of critical baskets down the stretch.  Her put-back with 1:39 to go gave VCU a five-point lead and a layup with 37 seconds remaining made it a two possession game.

Kquanise Byrd hit a pair from the line to pull Old Dominion within three with 28 ticks left and Parker missed a 3-pointer with five seconds to go.  After a pair of misses at the free throw line by Hurt, Guilford missed a running three from just inside half court as time expired.

VCU outscored Old Dominion 42-25 in the paint including a 17-9 advantage in second-chance points.

The Rams travel to Harrisonburg, Va., on Sunday for a 2 p.m. matchup against James Madison.  VCU then welcomes Georgia State to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Jan. 27 at 4 p.m.

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