FINAL: VCU 55, Rhode Island 46 (Richmond, Va. – Verizon Wireless Arena)
VCU STARTERS: #3 Green, #14 Adebayo, #20 Alaeze, #23 Pellechio, #24 Parks
RHODE ISLAND STARTERS: #1 Melendez, #20 Cloutier, #21 Bullard, #23 Thomas, #34 Tabakman
- Junior Robyn Parks led all scorers with a game-high 22 points and freshman Jessica Pellechio added 19 as VCU clinched a berth in the Atlantic 10 Tournament following a 55-46 victory against Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon.
- VCU used a strong defensive effort, forcing 23 turnovers to go along with 20 steals and a season-high seven blocks. It was the third straight game the Rams forced 20-plus turnovers.
- The Black and Gold honored its three seniors – Daphne Adebayo, Carleeda Green and Robyn Hobson – prior to the game.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- After a Kerry Wallack layup pulled Rhode Island within 7-6 at the 13-minute mark, VCU responded with an 11-2 spurt spanning nearly five minutes, and built a 10-point lead on a jumper from Parks with 8:12 showing.
- Back-to-back triples from Pellechio pushed VCU's lead to 26-15, its largest of the game, with 4:46 to play in the opening stanza.
- Rhode Island used a quick 6-0 run over the next two minutes and cut its deficit to 26-21 on a jumper from Sydney Lewis. However, a basket from Green and a pair of Parks free throws later gave VCU a 30-21 edge at the break.
- Parks extended VCU's lead back to 11 twice during the first four minutes of the second half before Rhode Island battled back and made it a 38-33 game with just over 10 minutes remaining.
- Rhody continued to chip away and cut its deficit to four on two occasions over the next eight minutes, but VCU had an answer each time.
- Wallack pulled Rhode Island within 47-43 following a layup with 2:41 left, however Pellechio drilled her fifth 3-pointer of the game from the left corner to put the Rams back up by seven with 1:36 showing.
- VCU then went 5-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
- Parks, who finished with 22 points, has scored 20-plus points in four straight and five of her last six games. She also grabbed seven rebounds to go along with a career-high eight steals.
- Parks, the A-10's leading scorer, is averaging 21.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals since Feb. 10.
- Pellechio, who scored in double figures for the seventh straight game, finished with 19 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. The Annadale, N.J. native leads the league with 2.9 treys per game. Pellechio is 9-of-15 from beyond the arc in her last two outings.
- Green dished out a career-high tying eight assists. She's averaging 5.3 assists in her last six games.
- VCU forced 20-plus turnovers for the third straight game and 12th time overall this season.
- The Rams collected 20 steals, their most since tallying 21 against Maine on Jan. 1, 2013, while also posting a season-best seven blocks. VCU entered Sunday's contest ranked second in the A-10 with 11.2 steals per game.
WHAT'S AHEAD: With the victory, VCU clinched the No. 12 seed in next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Rams will open tournament play on Friday, March 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Philadelphia, Pa.