RICHMOND, Va. – Junior forward Courtney Hurt poured in a team-high 21 points and set Virginia Commonwealth University's single-season scoring record as the Rams held off a late William & Mary rally and defeated the Tribe 62-56 Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
VCU, which clinches a top-four seed and first round bye in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, led by 14 with 9:12 to go but William & Mary used a 16-5 run to pull within 57-54 with 1:48 left. Junior Andrea Barbour put the Rams back up by five on the following possession and VCU scored seven of the final nine points to seal the win.
The Rams improve to 17-10 overall with a 12-5 mark in CAA play. William & Mary, which was coming off a five-point loss at Old Dominion on Feb. 24, slips to 3-24, 2-15.
"It was a great way to finish our home schedule," said VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham. "Our goal was to send off our seniors on a winning note, but we also knew how important it was to win this game to secure that top-four seed in the CAA Tournament. I'm really proud of the way our kids came out and played well in the first half. William & Mary, as they have done to teams all season, continues to fight. They really tested us today and I'm pleased with the way we responded."
Hurt, who entered the game 18 points shy of VCU's single season scoring mark of 618, reached the milestone in just 27 games. It took the previous record holders D'Andra Moss and Cyndy Wilks 35 and 28 games, respectively, to accomplish the feat.
"It's a great achievement to be in the record books," said Hurt. "But it's a real testament to my teammates for believing in my ability. This year I have had to step up and be a leader and they have trusted that I can knock down shots when they give me looks. I hope our team can continue with this success."
"Courtney has had a phenomenal year all around for us," Cunningham added. "She has really grown a lot this year and it's pretty amazing for her to accomplish what she has so far. She's worked really hard and has put herself in a position where her hard work is paying off."
Barbour finished with 12 points and four rebounds, while junior Jennifer Lane, whose 94-game start streak was snapped on Senior Day, chipped in 11 points and four assists for VCU. Junior Chelsea Snyder contributed a team-high eight rebounds.
Emily Correal pulled William & Mary within 14-10 after a pair of free throws at the 11:27 mark in the opening period but VCU used an 18-7 run spanning 6:30 to go on top 32-17. The Tribe cut the Rams' lead to nine with less than two minutes to play but VCU went on to take a 38-25 advantage into the locker room.
William & Mary scored six of the first eight points in the second half and got within 40-31 with 18:31 showing but VCU reeled off eight straight and took its largest lead of the game, 48-33, on a jumper by freshman Robyn Parks with 13:28 remaining.
VCU would maintain a double-digit lead over the next five minutes before the Tribe again pulled within 52-45 on a jumper by Kaitlyn Mathieu with 7:15 to go. William & Mary continued to pressure and eventually pulled within three following a 16-5 run but it was as close as it would get.
McKenna led all scorers with a career-high 24 points, while Correal added 12 for the Tribe. Katherine DeHenzel dished out a career-best 10 assists.
Prior to the game, VCU recognized its two seniors Ebony Patterson and Jessica Taylor (pictured, right).
VCU concludes the regular season on March 2 at Georgia State. The CAA Tournament is set for March 10-13 at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.