January 8, 2014

La Salle Holds Off VCU, 63-58; Snaps Rams’ 13-Game Winning Streak

FINAL: La Salle 63, VCU 58 (Philadelphia, Pa. – Tom Gola Arena)

RECORDS: VCU (14-2, 2-1 A-10), La Salle (8-7, 3-0 A-10) 

VCU STARTERS: #22 Williams, #24 Parks, #31 Henry, #34 Robinson, #45 Thorpe 

LA SALLE STARTERS: #2 Beslow, #11 Alston, #14 Cropper, #34 Owens, #42 Burdgess

THE BASICS:

  • Senior Robyn Parks registered a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and paced three VCU players in double figure scoring, but the Rams couldn't overcome an early second half surge and La Salle held on late to defeat VCU, 63-58, Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
  • The loss snapped the Black and Gold's school-record 13-game winning streak, including seven on the road, and marked its first setback since Nov. 14 at Ohio State.
  • Sophomore Jessica Pellechio added 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, while freshman Isis Thorpe chipped in 11 for the Rams.  Senior Zakia Williams finished with four points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
  • Despite the loss, VCU still owns its best start in school history at 14-2.
  • La Salle remains unbeaten in Atlantic 10 play at 3-0.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • VCU led by as many as four points through the first five minutes of the game, including 9-5 on a Robinson layup at the 14:59 mark.  A pair of free throws from Leeza Burdgess on La Salle's next possession sparked an 8-0 run, which gave the Explorers their largest lead, 13-9, three minutes later.
  • Sophomore Adaeze Alaeze drained a triple from the left wing and Pellechio followed with her second three of the night, and VCU scored 10 straight points to build its largest lead of the game, 19-13, with 8:29 to go.
  • The Explorers continued to battle and made it a two-point game twice over the next two minutes.  VCU went back up by six on a Pellechio layup at the 4:44 mark before both teams traded baskets during a nearly four-minute stretch.
  • La Salle scored six of the final eight points of the opening stanza, including four in the final 50 seconds, to cut its deficit to 32-30 at the break.
  • The Explorers picked up where they left off after intermission, used a 20-5 run spanning both halves, and took a 46-37 lead, capped by three straight treys, with 14:25 left.
  • Trailing by nine with 11:06 remaining, a 3-pointer from Thorpe sparked an 11-4 spurt and VCU held the Explorers to just one field goal during a nearly seven-minute stretch that eventually pulled the Rams within 52-50 with just over 5:00 to go.
  • La Salle went back up by four twice over the next three minutes before a clutch 3-pointer from Thorpe made it a one-point game with 3:03 left.
  • Senior Ryen Henry came up big on the next two possessions as she drew a charge on the defensive end before converting a layup on the Rams' next trip down the floor to give VCU its first lead since intermission, 57-56, with 1:09 remaining.
  • However, Alicia Cropper scored a bucket inside on La Salle's next possession, which gave the Explorers the lead for good.
  • Down three with less than 10 seconds to go, Thorpe was fouled as she attempted a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.  She made the first free throw but missed the second, and was then forced to intentionally miss the third.  The ball went out of bounds on her last attempt and La Salle hit 3 of its final 4 from the charity stripe to secure the win.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

  • The Rams, who rank third in the nation averaging 13.0 steals, collected 10 against La Salle, while dishing 19 assists.
  • VCU, which leads the Atlantic 10 in turnovers forced, caused 20 Explorers miscues.
  • Freshman Keira Robinson finished with eight points and dished out seven assists.  She entered the game averaging 6.5 apg, which ranked as the second-best mark among all freshmen in the country.

WHAT'S AHEAD: VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless arena on Sunday, Jan. 12 when it faces defending A-10 champion Saint Joseph's in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.  Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.  The Rams then host league runner-up Fordham on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.

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