VCU Comes Up Short Against First-Place Saint Joseph's, 55-50
FINAL: Saint Joseph's 55, VCU 50 (Richmond, Va. – Verizon Wireless Arena)
VCU STARTERS: #3 Green, #5 Royster, #14 Adebayo, #20 Alaeze, #23 Pellechio
SAINT JOSEPH'S STARTERS: #1 Gotfrida, #3 Shields, #4 Cloud, #12 Vila, #32 Van Grinsven
- Junior Robyn Parks led three VCU players in double figure scoring with a game-high 17 points but Saint Joseph's rallied late, picked up its eighth straight victory and remained undefeated in Atlantic 10 play with a 55-50 triumph over the Rams Wednesday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
- Freshman Jessica Pellechio finished with 12 points and a game-high four steals, while classmate Adaeze Alaeze added 11 points and three assists for VCU. Redshirt-freshman Melanie Royster chipped in six points and a game-high 10 rebounds in her first career start.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- A triple from Erin Shields gave Saint Joseph's an early 15-9 edge just over 10 minutes in before VCU scored 10 of the next 11 points and took a three-point lead on a layup from Royster with 5:16 showing.
- The Hawks, who shot just 27.3 percent (6-of-23) in the first half, regained the lead four minutes later when leading scorer Chatil Van Grinsven converted a pair at the line.
- After junior Zakia Williams came up with a steal with less than a minute remaining in the opening stanza, Alaeze put VCU back in front 21-20 on a jumper with 37 seconds left.
- Baskets from Shelby Smith and Ciara Andrews cut Saint Joseph's deficit to 25-24 at the 14:24 mark. However, VCU did not relinquish the lead and outscored the Hawks 12-3 during a nearly four-minute stretch, and pulled ahead 37-27, its largest lead of the game, on a bucket from Alaeze with 10:51 to go.
- Trailing by 10 with 8:37 left, Saint Joseph's chipped away and eventually regained the lead at 45-43 with five minutes remaining. A pair of free throws from Alaeze tied the game at 45-45 with 4:38 left but the Hawks built a four-point advantage with 1:17 to go.
- Pellechio drained her second 3-pointer of the game to pull the Rams within 51-50 with a minute left. Following a missed jumper by Shields with 30 seconds showing, VCU had a chance to tie or take the lead on its next trip down the floor but an unfortunate bounce of the ball allowed Saint Joseph's to regain possession. The Hawks then hit four straight from the free throw line to seal the win.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
- Pellechio and Parks combined to score 17 of VCU's 21 first-half points.
- Parks scored in double figures for the 22nd straight game. She has recorded at least 12 points in each outing.
- Alaeze, who finished with 11 points, has scored in double figures in two of her last three games. She's also the only player to start all eight A-10 games this year.
- Royster made her first career start, while setting career-highs with six points, 10 rebounds, a game-high two blocks in 30 minutes.
- Saint Joseph's, which has won eight straight and 11 of its last 12 games, remains tied for first place in the Atlantic 10 with nationally ranked Dayton. The Hawks' only loss during that stretch came at No. 17/18 UCLA on Dec. 31, 2012.
- VCU and Saint Joseph's met for the fifth time in school history but first as members of the A-10. The Rams and Hawks have met in the Postseason WNIT in each of the last three seasons. VCU has won two of those matchups, including a thrilling 67-65 overtime victory in Philadelphia last year.
WHAT'S AHEAD: VCU travels to St. Bonaventure on Feb. 10. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. The Rams then return to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Feb. 17 against La Salle before traveling to cross-town rival Richmond on Feb. 20. Check VCUAthletics.com for complete game coverage.