March 8, 2013

VCU Battles But Comes Up Short, 64-58, Against Duquesne in A-10 Tournament Opener

FINAL: Duquesne 64, VCU 58 (Philadelphia, Pa. – Atlantic 10 Championship Opening Round)

VCU STARTERS: #3 Green, #14 Adebayo, #22 Williams, #23 Pellechio, #24 Parks

DUQUESNE STARTERS: #10 Agunbiade, #11 Hall, #12 Floyd, #24 Abel, #32 Robinson

THE BASICS:

  • Junior forward Robyn Parks led all scorers with a game-high 23 points and freshman Jessica Pellechio added 14, but No. 12 VCU came up just short against fifth-seeded Duquesne, 64-58, Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship at Hagan Arena.
  • VCU pulled within two points twice during the final eight minutes, including 58-56 with 2:10 to go, but Duquesne had an answer each time.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Duquesne (23-6) held an early four-point advantage less than three minutes into the game before junior Zakia Williams scored six straight points and senior Carleeda Green buried a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give VCU (11-19) a 12-11 lead at the 16:27 mark.
  • Green's three sparked a 12-2 run as the Rams eventually pushed their lead to 21-13 with 9:08 left in the half.  After Pellechio knocked down her league-leading 75th triple of the season, Parks came up with a steal and dished to Pellechio on the fast break to give VCU an eight-point advantage.
  • Belma Nurkic converted a traditional 3-point play to cut Duquesne's deficit to five with 8:25 left before freshman Janniina Koivunen drilled a trey from the right corner to give VCU a 24-16 lead with just under eight minutes remaining.
  • The Dukes, who went just 1-of-9 from long range to start the game, caught fire and hit three straight triples to pull within 27-25 with 2:26 to go.
  • Senior Daphne Adebayo stretched VCU's lead to 29-25 on a basket underneath with 1:37 left.  However, Duquesne, which closed the half on a 17-8 run, scored the final five points and took a 30-29 lead into the locker room.
  • A pair of Williams free throws allowed VCU to regain the lead less than a minute into the second half, but Duquesne locked down on defense and scored seven points during a 30-second span and pulled ahead 37-31 with 18:47 left.
  • Agunbiade capped a 10-0 Dukes run with a jumper at the 17:50 mark before VCU came back to life.  Parks and Pellechio combined for 13 points and the Rams rallied from nine down and tied the game at 44-44 on a triple from Pellechio with 10:23 to go.
  • Parks kept VCU within 51-49 on a layup with 8:07 left but Duquesne went back up by seven less than 1:30 later.
  • The Rams continued to press and again cut their deficit to 58-56 on a Parks bucket with 2:10 showing.  However, Jocelyn Floyd converted a traditional 3-point play on the Dukes next possession to make it a five-point game with 1:47 left.
  • VCU forced a shot clock violation and Parks hit a pair at the line to again pull the Rams within 61-58 with 1:27 to play, but Duquesne went 3-of-4 at the charity stripe to seal the win.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

  • Parks, who finished her breakout junior campaign as the A-10's leading scorer, recorded 20-plus points for the fifth straight game and sixth time in her final seven outings.  She has also scored in double figures in 29 straight games.
  • Pellechio, who leads the A-10 and ranks 17th nationally with 2.9 3-pointers per game, went 4-of-9 from long range on Friday.  She averaged better than 14 points during her final eight games of the season.
  • Parks dished out a team-high five assists, while Green chipped in four.  Green also went 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
  • Both teams combined to shoot 17-of-20 from the free throw line.
  • VCU, which lost 80 percent of its offense from a season ago, qualified for the A-10 Tournament in its first year as a league member.
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