It might not be the NCAA Tournament, however on Sunday the VCU women’s basketball team played like an inspired team on a mission.
The Rams, who went on the road to Philadelphia earlier this week and beat a tough St. Joseph’s team in the first round of the WNIT, returned home to absolutely crush a conference opponent in Hofstra, 84-65.
With the impressive victory, VCU lives to play another day, earning a spot in the WNIT sweet 16 to play the winner of Richmond and Syracuse.
“I thought the first 20 minutes of basketball was our best of the entire season,” said VCU coach Beth Cunningham. “The next step for this program was winning multiple games in the postseason and that’s something this team is taking a lot of pride in.”
VCU got out to its best first half of the season by shooting a blistering 61.8 percent from the floor, led by sophomore star Courtney Hurt (Loganville, Ga./Salem) and senior Kita Waller (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville).
That duo combined for 38 of the Rams’ 50 first-half points, outscoring The Pride by 16, who were only able to chart 22 on 37 percent shooting.
VCU left little question from the opening tip off, pacing out to 13-4 lead and eventually pushing the lead to 27-11.
After Hofstra cut that lead to 11 at the 4:25 mark, the Rams closed the half on a 19-2 run to all but put the game away when the teams headed to the locker room.
“Bottom line is that we had fun tonight,” Hurt said. “It was a great win and good for our seniors because it is probably the last time we get to play at home—it’ll be a good memory.”
Hurt was an incredible 12-14 from the floor in the first half and continues to put amazing numbers in the WNIT after putting up a career-high 29 in the win at St. Joe’s on Thursday.
With a 50-22 lead at the break, the Pride came out in the second half looking to make the final score look, at the very least, respectable.
However, the VCU team that beat them 51-38 just ten days ago in the CAA tournament was unrelenting.
The Rams didn’t let the lead get below 15 for the rest of the day and blasted the Pride 84-65. Hurt and Waller keyed the Rams with 27 points apiece.
VCU also got notable offensive contributions from Jennifer Lane (Wichita, Kan./Wichita Heights) who scored nine and Ebony Patterson (Chester/L.C. Bird) who scored eight.
Hofstra was led by Sam Brigham who scored 17 and Candice Bellocchio with 13.
The Rams out-rebounded the Pride 38-34 and scored 22 points of the 17 Hofstra turnovers they forced.
VCU will figure out its next opponent tomorrow when Richmond and Syracuse face off Monday. The Rams do know that no matter the opponent, the game will be played on the road.