Days after receiving their first home loss of the season, the VCU women’s basketball team bounced back with a home win against the University of Dayton, their 14th win of the season.
On Wednesday Jan. 28, with a 70-66 home victory over the George Mason University Patriots, the Rams improved their record at home to 9-1. Baskets from George Mason’s freshman guard Qierra Murray and redshirt junior forward Kristi Mokube gave the Patriots a 4-0 lead to start the game, but a three-pointer from sophomore guard Isis Thorpe cut that deficit pretty quickly.
The score was tied at 8-8 roughly five minutes in, and then 13-13 only a minute later. VCU’s Thorpe and Mason’s Mokube traded baskets to keep the score tied at 15-15 before the Rams pulled ahead, for a lead the Patriots weren’t able to answer.
“George Mason is a really tough team,” head coach Beth O’Boyle said after the win. “They obviously have one of the best scorers in the league and one of the top scorers in the country. When you’ve got a player like Taylor Brown out there, you’ve got to make sure that defensively, you bring your A-game.”
George Mason’s redshirt junior Taylor Brown scored 23 points for the Patriots, and was George Mason’s leading scorer. Thorpe beat that by three with 26 points for the Rams.
“We talk about, ‘you need to defend like you’re making all your shots,’ but there’s that energy you get when you’re scoring,” O’Boyle said. “I felt that for us to start off those first two possessions and getting scores, it really helped us. I think defensively on Taylor, our goal was to tire her out, and I thought we did a great job of it in the first half and like any good player, she found a way to get her points and did a great job from the foul line. That’s something that we need to make sure we get better on and not bailing out some of those drives with fouls.”
After leading 34-28 at halftime, VCU opened up the second half with a 6-0 run to take a 40-28 lead.
The Rams led 62-51 with less than four minutes remaining in the game, before a 15-6 run brought the Patriots within two. VCU held only a 68-66 advantage with 19 seconds remaining. The two free throws awarded to Thorpe however were able to put the game in the books for VCU, as time expired with the Rams on top 70-66, improving their record to 14-7 with a 5-3 record in the A-10.
“I thought our players stayed solid in what we were trying to do,” O’Boyle said. “As they made a run at us, we kept our composure. We were still getting some good shots. We missed a few down the stretch that kept getting it closer and closer but I was overall really pleased with our team effort.”
A team with deep depth, O’Boyle was happy with her player’s ability to score in transition which helped the team’s rebounding on both sides of the floor.
“I think in the second half, that big run that we started out with really was dictated by us being able to control our defensive glass and get out and run,” O’Boyle said. “Then we did a good job of executing some of our quick hitters down the stretch.”
The Rams looked to improve their home record to double digits on Saturday, Jan. 31 but the results of the game were not final as of press time.
The Rams came into their match against the Dayton Flyers undefeated. The Flyers’ 75-56 victory over VCU on Saturday, Jan. 24 was only the second home loss this season for VCU basketball, since the men’s team fell to the University of Virginia earlier in December.
Junior guard/forward Adaze Alaeze’s layup in the opening minute of the game gave VCU a 2-0 start, and was the only lead the Rams managed in the game. In the first four minutes of the game the Flyers jumped out to a 7-2, and then a 9-3 start. Trailing 17-13 with roughly nine minutes to go, buckets from sophomore guard Ashley Pegram and sophomore guard/forward Camille Calhoun, tied the score at 17-17 for VCU. However, Dayton outscored the Rams 17-9 to finish the first half leading 34-26.
The Flyers were able to stay ahead of the Rams through the second half, not allowing VCU at any point to overtake the lead, which eventually led to VCU being handed their first home loss of the season. At no point in the second was VCU able to come any closer than seven points. With two and a half minutes remaining in the half, Dayton’s junior guard Amber Deane hit a jump shot that gave the Flyers a 71-51 lead. Holding a 20-point deficit, Dayton was able to go on for the 74-56 A-10 road win.
Calhoun led the Rams in scoring with 12 points, and Alaeze was the second highest with 10. Pegram finished behind with nine points while Thorpe contributed seven to VCU. Dayton’s three leading scorers were junior Deane, with 24 points for the Flyers, senior forward Ally Malott with 18, and junior center Jodie Cornélie-Sigmundová.