February 20, 2011

VCU DEFEATS DREXEL, 73-67, BEHIND BIG SECOND HALF RALLY

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Juniors Courtney Hurt (pictured, left) and Andrea Barbour combined to score 53 points and the duo fueled a big second half rally as Virginia Commonwealth University erased a 10-point deficit with less than nine minutes to go and held on to defeat Drexel University, 73-67, Sunday afternoon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Down 54-44 with 8:49 remaining, VCU, which trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, used an 18-2 run spanning six minutes and ignited a 20-point swing as the Rams took a 66-56 lead with 2:36 to go.  Drexel pulled within three with 21.9 seconds left but Hurt hit 3-of-4 from the line down the stretch to secure VCU's first win at the DAC since 2006-07.

VCU, which hands Drexel just its second home loss of the season, picks up its third-straight victory and improves to 16-9 overall with an 11-4 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association.  The Dragons slip to 15-11, 7-8. 

Hurt posted her NCAA-leading 21st double-double with 29 points and 11 rebounds, while Barbour added a career-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting.  Junior Chelsea Snyder contributed six points and six rebounds, and classmate Jennifer Lane dished out a game-high eight assists.

Kamile Nacickaite scored 11 straight and 16 of Drexel's first 22 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range, and the Dragons jumped out to a 22-8 advantage at the 12:10 mark in the opening period. 

VCU would settle down and used an 11-5 spurt spanning seven minutes to pull within eight but a triple by Hollie Mershon on the ensuing possession halted the Rams' run and the Dragons scored six straight to go back on top 34-20 with 3:05 showing.

Nacickaite, who led all scorers with 20 first-half points, gave Drexel a 13-point advantage with her fifth triple of the period with 1:15 to go but Hurt nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and the Rams scored seven of the final nine to pull within 39-31 at the break.

The Dragons forced 14 VCU turnovers in the opening stanza with 12 coming in the first 12 minutes of the contest.

Senior Jessica Taylor pulled the Rams within 48-44 with 11:13 remaining but Drexel forced turnovers on three straight VCU possessions and Nacickaite scored six straight to put the Dragons back in front by 10 with 8:49 showing.

Barbour (pictured, right) connected on a jumper in transition and then hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and the Rams quickly cut Drexel's lead in half less than a minute later.  VCU continued to pressure and would pull within 54-53 on a stick-back by Taylor with 6:45 to go.

Hurt, who scored 13 points in a span of five minutes, would give the Rams their first lead of the day on a layup with 6:07 showing and eventually capped off an 18-2 VCU run as the Black & Gold went on top 66-56 at the 2:36 mark.

Drexel wasn't finished, however, as the Dragons reeled off nine of the next 11 and Nacicakaite pulled her team within 68-65 on back-to-back layups with 58 seconds left.   Drexel again made it a three-point game on a pair of Ayana Lee free throws with 21.9 seconds remaining but Hurt hit 3-of-4 from the line down the stretch.

Nacicakaite led all scorers with a career-high tying 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 5-of-8 from long range.  Jasmina Rossell added 15 points and Tyler Hale chipped in 10 for Drexel.

VCU travels to Delaware on Thursday, Feb. 24 for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Blue Hens.  The Rams return to the Verizon Wireless Arena for its home finale on Feb. 27.  Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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