Rams Win School Record 10th Straight, Improve to 11-1 with 77-72 Victory at NJIT

FINAL: VCU 77, NJIT 72 (Newark, N.J. – Fleisher Athletic Center)

RECORDS: VCU (11-1), NJIT (3-12)

VCU STARTERS: #22 Williams, #24 Parks, #34 Robinson, #44 Calhoun, #45 Thorpe

NJIT STARTERS: #2 Tullis, #3 Albanese, #13 Domiterova, #15 Robinson, #50 Nwankwo

THE BASICS:

  • VCU picked up its school record 10th straight win and improved to 11-1 for only the second time in program history with a 77-72 triumph at NJIT on Saturday afternoon.
  • Senior Robyn Parks posted her fourth straight 20-point outing with a team-high 24 and helped spark a critical 34-16 run midway through the second half that put the Rams ahead for good.
  • Sophomore Jessica Pellechio added 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting off the bench, while freshman Isis Thorpe chipped in 15 to go along with a career-best three blocks for VCU.  Freshman point guard Keira Robinson also finished with nine points and 11 assists, which marked her fourth straight outing with eight assists or more.  Entering the game, Robinson ranked 23rd in the nation and third-best among all freshmen with 6.1 apg.
  • The Rams, who are off to their best start in six years, improve to 11-1 for the first time since 2007-08, and just the second time in the program's 40-year existence. 
  • VCU's previous nine-game winning streak lasted for more than 19 years (1994-95).

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • After tying the game four times during a nearly four-minute stretch midway through the first half, including 16-16 on a 3-pointer by Pellechio with 11:01 showing, NJIT caught fire and used a quick 11-2 run spanning 3:12 to push its lead to nine.
  • Thorpe knocked down her first triple from the top of the arc and scored four straight points to cut the Rams' deficit to 27-22 with 6:04 left.  However, NJIT continued its surge and closed the half on a 16-6 run, and eventually took a 43-28 advantage into the locker room.
  • The Highlanders, who shot 59 percent including 4-of-4 from distance in the first half, led by as many as 18 points in the final 30 seconds of the period before Robinson made it a 15-point game on a trey with 11 seconds showing.
  • VCU regrouped at halftime and came out on fire, forcing a stop on NJIT's first five possessions of the second half to swing momentum in its favor.  Senior Ryen Henry converted a traditional 3-point play on the Rams' first trip down the floor, which sparked a quick 12-2 run that pulled VCU within 45-40 at 15:24 mark.
  • The Rams continued their surge, scoring 21 of the first 27 points of the final stanza to tie the game at 49-49 with 12:27 to go.
  • Parks scored four straight points and Thorpe followed with a big triple from the left corner to give VCU a five-point advantage with 10:49 left.  NJIT cut its deficit to 56-55 just over a minute later but it was as close as the Highlanders would get the rest of the way.
  • NJIT pulled within three on four occasions during the final four minutes but the Rams answered each threat.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

  • VCU forced 20 turnovers for the fifth straight game and 10th time in 12 outings this season.
  • The Black & Gold has logged double digit steals in six straight outings (10 vs. NJIT).  VCU entered the week ranked third in the nation averaging better than 13 steals per game.
  • Robinson dished out a game-high 11 assists.  She has tallied at least eight in her last four outings.
  • Parks, who scored in double figures in 40 straight contests, posted her fourth straight (9th overall) 20-point game of the year to go along with eight rebounds.
  • The Rams, who shot 56.7 percent in the second half, outscored NJIT 49-29 in the final 20 minutes.
  • VCU, which leads the A-10 with nearly eight 3-pointers per game, went 9-of-20 from long range against the Highlanders. 

WHAT'S AHEAD: VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Dec. 30 to host former Colonial Athletic Association rival Old Dominion in its final non-conference game of the season.  Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.  The Rams then open Atlantic 10 play against UMass at home on Jan. 2.

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