VCU RALLY COMES UP SHORT, RAMS FALL 72-66 AT SAINT JOSEPH’S IN WNIT FIRST ROUND
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Junior forward Courtney Hurt registered a game-high 26 points and led three Virginia Commonwealth University players in double figure scoring but the Rams' couldn't overcome a 14-point second half deficit and fell at Saint Joseph's, 72-66, Thursday night in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Down 13 with 8:03 to go, VCU used a 13-4 run to pull within 62-58 with 2:53 left but it was as close as the Rams would get. Saint Joseph's led by no more than six points the remainder of the game but hit a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line to seal the win.
VCU (19-12), which made its program record fourth straight postseason appearance, met Saint Joseph's (20-11) in the opening round of the WNIT for the second year in a row. The Rams defeated the Hawks last season, 74-63, on their way to a third round finish.
Michelle Baker scored 15 of her team-high 19 points in the second half to lead Saint Joseph's. Samira Van Grinsven added 12, Erin Shields finished with 11 and Kelly Cavallo contributed 10.
Neither team led by more than four points during the first 20 minutes of the contest. Barbour gave VCU a 15-12 advantage with a jumper at the 13:02 mark but Saint Joseph's used a 7-0 run and held the Rams scoreless for five minutes and went on top 19-15 with 8:04 showing.
A jumper by Hurt cut the Hawks lead in half and Taylor, who led all scorers with 12 first-half points, reeled off seven straight to put VCU back on top, 24-21, less than three minutes later.
The lead would change hands three more times the rest of the half before Saint Joseph's scored 10 of the final 13 and held the Rams without a field goal over the final 5:00 and took a 31-27 lead into the locker room.
VCU committed turnovers on its first three possessions of the second half and Baker scored five straight to give Saint Joseph's a 36-27 lead at the 18:38 mark. Barbour then pulled VCU within 38-33 with a jumper two minutes later but the Hawks used a 13-4 run and built their largest lead of the game at 51-37 with 11:59 remaining.
Down 13 with 8:03 to go, Hurt scored baskets on back-to-back possessions, including a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, and cut the Saint Joseph's lead to 58-50 with 7:06 left. Cavallo put the Hawks back up by 10 on the ensuing possession but the Rams didn't go away and pulled within 62-58 on a drive by Barbour with 2:53 left.
Saint Joseph's lead would only get to six the rest of the way and VCU pulled within four on four occasions but the Rams could get no closer. The Hawks went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line to close the game.