RICHMOND, Va. – Senior forward Courtney Hurt became VCU's all-time leading scorer Thursday night, breaking a 22-year-old school record en route to 1,755 career points, but visiting Drexel spoiled the festivities handing the Rams a 47-41 setback at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Hurt moved in front of Kelly Hoover (1985-89) on the Rams' all-time scoring list with a free throw at the 10:03 mark in the second half. The Conyers, Ga., native, who entered the game just five points shy of the record, netted VCU's first four points to give the Black & Gold an early 4-3 lead less than four minutes in. However, the Dragons kept Hurt off the board for the nearly 26 straight minutes before she went to the line midway through the second stanza.
"When I was at the free throw line I could tell the crowd was getting into it," Hurt (pictured, left) said when reflecting on her record-breaking free throw. "I thought about [the record] then, but during the game I'm thinking about what we work on in practice and I'm trying to execute that out on the court."
"I know if you ask Courtney, it's disappointing that the night she breaks the record we end up losing," said Head Coach Beth Cunningham. "[The losing] ends up being her focus more than anything. It's a tremendous accomplishment. The thing I'm most proud of with Courtney is just how far she has come since she's been here. You've seen a kid that has really worked on her game year-in and year-out, and she just keeps getting better."
Drexel, which handed VCU its first home loss since Dec. 1, 2011, increased the Rams' losing skid to a season-long three games. The Dragons have won five of their last six with their only loss coming at #16 Delaware.
Senior Andrea Barbour finished with a team-high 14 points, while Hurt added nine to go along with 15 rebounds. Sophomore Robyn Parks chipped in six and freshman Aprill McRae contributed four points and a career-best 12 boards for VCU.
"Frustrating is probably the best word to describe [tonight's game]," said Cunningham. "I thought we did a good job coming out and defending Drexel's offense. They're always one of the most efficient offensive teams and it's always a real challenge to defend them.
"But we turned the basketball over too much and never really got into a rhythm on offense. A lot of that is a credit to Drexel because that's what they want to make you do. We were just too careless with the basketball. We didn't give ourselves enough of an opportunity to get shots up."
Five different Rams scored in the first 13:03 and VCU jumped out to a 15-9 advantage, capped off by a 3-pointer from the top of the arc by junior Carleeda Green.
Trailing by six with 5:41 to go, Drexel, which shot just 31.5 percent from the field the entire game, used a quick 8-0 run and took its first lead in more than 12 minutes on a layup by Tyler Hale with 1:21 showing. Freshman Christina Carter then came up with a steal and converted a layup to knot the score again with 37 seconds left, but a jumper from Taylor Wootton with 12.7 seconds remaining gave the Dragons a narrow 21-19 edge at the break.
The first 20 minutes featured a combined 21 turnovers; however, Drexel, which committed eight first-half miscues, turned the ball over just once the entire second stanza.
"I thought Drexel's press was very effective against us tonight," Cunningham said. "We had some careless mistakes but their press slowed the tempo down and kept us from getting into a flow on offense. We never seemed to get into that flow tonight."
Barbour scored the first five points for VCU in the second half and put the Rams back in front, 24-23, at the line with 13:46 remaining. However, Kamile Nacickaite, who finished with a game-high 17 points, nailed a 3-pointer less than a minute later to give Drexel the lead for good.
A jumper from Parks with 12:11 to go tied the game for the final time before Drexel countered with a 13-4 run, including a stretch of three-straight triples, and went up 39-30 with 4:22 left.
Junior Robyn Hobson halted the run with a 3-pointer of her own on the next possession and VCU scored seven straight to make it a two-point game with 2:37 to go. But the Rams would get no closer as Hollie Mershon drained a trey to seal the game less than 20 seconds later.
VCU concludes its brief two-game home stand against Georgia State on Sunday, Jan. 29. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. The Rams then hit the road for back-to-back games at Towson and Delaware.