December 28, 2011

VCU DEFEATS MORGAN STATE, 73-52, IN OPENER OF MIAMI HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Senior forward Courtney Hurt led all scorers with a game-high 32 points to go along with career-best 21 rebounds, and classmate Andrea Barbour added 23 points to lead VCU to a 73-52 win over Morgan State Thursday evening in the opener of the University of Miami Holiday Tournament.

It was VCU's second straight 20-point victory, while Hurt's 21 rebounds were just three shy of program's single-game record.  Hurt also posted her sixth double-double in the last seven games, while she and Barbour, who added eight boards and a game-high six steals, combined to score 55 of VCU's 73 points.  Sophomore Robyn Parks added nine off the bench.

VCU (8-3) got off to a slow start, hitting just two of its first 13 from the field and Morgan State jumped out to a 12-6 lead at the 13:08 mark.  However, the Rams would settle down and used a 10-1 spurt to pull ahead 16-13, their largest lead of the half, on a 3-pointer from junior Carleeda Green with 8:58 remaining.

Morgan State's Chyress Lockhart then nailed a triple on the Bears' ensuing possession and DeKeisha Mathis converted a fast break layup to regain the lead less than a minute later.  But a traditional 3-point play by Hurt, who contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds in the opening stanza, put VCU back on top with 7:02 left.

Morgan State (2-8) went on to build a 25-21 advantage over the next five minutes before another and-one from Hurt with 1:27 to go gave the Rams a 26-25 edge. The Bears' Keirah Hicks hit a trey from the left wing with a minute left to put Morgan State in front 28-26 at the break.

VCU, which shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half, came out on fire to start the second stanza, hitting seven of their first 11, while holding Morgan State scoreless through the first 6:17.  Hurt eventually gave the Rams a 47-35 lead on a layup with 9:35 left, capping off a 21-7 Black & Gold run.

Trailing by 12 with 9:35 remaining, the Bears chipped away and pulled within 52-47 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Mathis with 6:35 to go.  The scoring spurt wouldn't last long though as the Rams held Morgan State to just five points the rest of the way, scoring 21 of the final 26 points of the game.

VCU has outrebounded its last seven opponents, including a +14.0 rebounding margin during its last four contests.  VCU held a 54-40 advantage on the glass against Morgan State.

After trailing by two at the half, the Rams outscored Morgan State 47-24 in the second stanza.

Mathis led the Bears with 15 points and seven rebounds.  Hicks chipped in 10 points off the bench.

VCU continues play in the Miami Holiday Tournament on Thursday, facing No. 12/10 Miami at 7 p.m.

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