March 10, 2011

VCU OPENS CAA TOURNAMENT WITH QUARTERFINAL MATCHUP FRIDAY

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – The Virginia Commonwealth University women's basketball team will begin its quest for the program's first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Championship on Friday when the Rams face No. 5 Hofstra in the quarterfinals at 2:30 p.m. at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.

VCU (18-10, 13-5 CAA), which defeated Hofstra 85-76 on Feb. 13, earned a first round bye for the fourth consecutive season and owns the No. 4 seed in this year's event.  Hofstra cruised past No. 12 William & Mary, 89-67, in the opening round Thursday.

Here are some tidbits entering this weekend's tournament:

SETTING THE SCENE: For the first time since 1998, the Colonial Athletic Association Women's Basketball Championship will be played on a neutral court after a 12-year stint at host universities.  For the second straight season, VCU, which has drawn the No. 4 seed in this year's event, will face No. 5 Hofstra in the quarterfinals on Friday, March 11 at 2:30 p.m.   The Rams defeated Hofstra in the quarterfinals last season after the Pride knocked off William & Mary in the opening round.

VCU IN THE CAA TOURNAMENT: The Rams are 11-15 all-time in CAA Tournament play.  VCU has advanced as far as the semifinals on eight occasions and made its first championship appearance in 2008.  The Black & Gold has been a top-four seed in each of the previous four conference tournaments.  Head Coach Beth Cunningham, who is VCU's all-time winningest coach with a 147-98 record in eight seasons with the Rams, owns a 7-7 mark in the CAA Tournament.

FULL OF PRIDE: VCU's quaterfinal matchup marks the second time this season the Rams will meet Hofstra.  VCU is looking for its fourth straight win overall against the Pride, and its fourth straight postseason victory.  The Rams and Hofstra met in last year's quarterfinals and squared off again in the second round of the Postseason WNIT.  The Pride has lost seven of the last eight against VCU, including both meetings in the CAA Tournament.

LAST SEASON IN THE CAA TOURNAMENT: Third-seeded VCU defeated No. 6 Hofstra, 51-38, in the quarterfinals before suffering a 79-70 setback against top-seeded, host James Madison in the semifinals.  In game one, the Rams forced 27 turnovers and held Hofstra to just six points during the final 12 minutes of the contest.  Then, VCU used a 19-6 run to start the second half against James Madison but couldn't overcome an 18-point deficit and lost in the semifinals for the second straight year.

FOUR-SEED FOUL: The top three seeds have appeared in the CAA championship game in each of the last eight seasons.  Sixth-seeded UNC Wilmington lost in the championship game in 2001-02, which marked the last time a team seeded outside the top-3 did not appear in the title game.  The No. 4 seed is the only seed among the top-seven to have never appeared on Championship Sunday, due in large part to Old Dominion's 17-straight league titles from .  The Lady Monarchs were traditionally the No. 1 seed during their CAA reign and sent the four seed packing in nearly ever tournament.

THREE'S COMPANY: Junior Courtney Hurt led three VCU players receiving All-Colonial Athletic Association honors Wednesday night at the conference's annual pre-tournament awards banquet.  Hurt received first team All-CAA and second team All-Academic honors, while classmate Andrea Barbour received second team All-CAA accolades and freshman Jacqueline Brewer garnered All-Rookie recognition.  VCU is one of just three CAA schools to place a member on the first team in each of the last four seasons.  Hurt joins D'Andra Moss (2010), Quanitra Hollingsworth (2009) and Krystal Vaughn (2008) on the list of first team honorees during that span.

VCU'S RECORD VS. OPPONENTS IN THE CAA TOURNAMENT: VCU is 11-15 all-time in the CAA Tournament, including a 10-12 mark against current league foes.  Here's a look at how the Rams have fared in the event:

American (1-1)*… Delaware (0-3)… East Carolina (0-2)*… Hofstra (2-0)… James Madison (1-2)… George Mason (1-2)… UNC Wilmington (2-1)… Northeastern (2-0)… Old Dominion (0-3)… William & Mary (2-1)

*No longer a member of the CAA

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