RICHMOND, Va. – Senior forward Courtney Hurt posted her second straight double-double with a game high 25 points and 10 rebounds, while classmate Andrea Barbour added a season-high 23 points, seven boards and six assists, but VCU couldn't convert on its final possession and Richmond escaped with a 78-77 victory Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
Thursday's matchup, which featured 10 ties and 17 lead changes, was a classic battle between city rivals. Hurt pulled VCU within 78-77 with 45 seconds to go before Richmond's Liz Brown was called for a travel on the ensuing possession. Down one with 20 seconds left, the Rams had the ball with a chance at the final shot but a series of looks under the basket wouldn't fall and Richmond held on for its fourth straight win over the Black & Gold.
"We're definitely disappointed," said VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham. "I think the same things that haunted us in this game also haunted us in the last two games we lost. It just comes down to the little things. We have to find a way to tighten some things up. You have to give Richmond credit, though, for hanging in there and putting themselves in a position at the end to win it."
Four different Rams scored in double figures as freshman Aprill McRae, who made her second straight start, finished with a career-best 13 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Robyn Parks added 12 points, six boards and four assists for VCU. Senior Jennifer Lane and Barbour combined to dish out 12 of the Rams' season-high 21 assists.
After VCU, which committed a season-low 11 turnovers, jumped out to an 8-3 advantage less than three minutes into the contest, Richmond reeled off seven straight to pull ahead 10-8 at the 16:10 mark.
VCU tied it twice over the next four minutes before Hurt grabbed an offensive rebound and put the Rams in front 16-14 with 12:18 showing.
A pair of free throws from Kristina King two minutes later gave Richmond a two-point advantage before back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman Christina Carter and Hurt gave the Rams their final lead of the half at 25-21 with 9:23 left.
The Spiders then used a 19-6 spurt spanning eight minutes to take a nine-point advantage with a minute to go. However, a jumper by Barber with 37 seconds left cut it to seven and Parks pulled VCU within 40-35 on a jumper two seconds before the break.
The Rams continued to chip away to start the second half but Richmond matched each basket during a nearly two-minute stretch until Hurt found McRae underneath to knot the game at 49-49 with 15:27 remaining. Richmond quickly regained the lead on its next possession but Barbour converted a pair from the line and nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to give VCU its first lead since the nine-minute mark in the opening stanza with 14:19 left.
Richmond battled back and regained the lead on a traditional three-point play from Genevieve Okoro with 11 minutes to play. The lead would change hands four times over the next three minutes until a jumper in the paint by Barbour ignited an 11-0 run that gave VCU its largest lead of the game at 73-65 with 4:40 remaining.
A basket by Abby Oliver halted the run and Richmond scored nine straight to go back ahead by one at the 2:20 mark. Both teams traded baskets over the next three possessions and the Spiders jumped back in front for good on a layup by Rachel Bilney with 1:31 to go.
The Rams pulled within 78-77 on a layup by Hurt with 45 seconds left but the Rams couldn't finish the rally.
VCU opens Colonial Athletic Association play against Northeastern on Dec. 4 at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. The Black & Gold then travels to East Carolina on Dec. 7 before returning home for back-to-back games against Coppin State and Norfolk State.