The VCU women’s basketball team were able to close a volatile February with consecutive wins, defeating the University of Massachusetts and Davidson College on Feb. 23 and 25, respectively.
The Lady Rams were able to defeat the Minutewomen of UMass after trading baskets the first five minutes of play, until sophomore Chadarryl Clay made a three-pointer to give VCU a 9-6 lead. VCU would keep UMass from scoring a basket for 11 minutes and 30 seconds and went on a 24-2 run, leading 27-8 with just over three minutes left in the half. UMass would close out the half with a 7-0 run, to trail the Rams by 15, 24-9, at halftime.
In the second, the Minutewomen continued to chip away at VCU’s lead, coming as close as seven, 32-25, with a little more than 15 minutes left to play. The Rams didn’t back down and extended their lead back into double digits after three three-pointers in less than three minutes to lead 48-33. Clay closed out the game scoring seven points in the last five minutes to help VCU win 65-43.
Sophomore Clay boasted a career-high 20 points on 7-9 shooting. Sophomore guard finished Isis Thorpe finished second with 14 points, sophomore guard Ashley Pegram scored 12 and junior forward Adaeze Alaeze finished in double-figures for the Rams. The Rams held UMass to 36.5 percent in the field and forced the Minutewomen into 17 turnovers. This was also the fourth time this season the Rams held an opponent to less than 50 points. The other opponents being Presbyterian, Tex.-Pan American, and Rhode Island.
It was the Rams’ first win in five games and head coach Beth O’Boyle thought the momentum early on was all the difference.
“Obviously when you’re making shots your energy goes up and to start off that way (I think) really helped up us,” O’Boyle said.
The game was held in front of a better-than-average crowd of 939 who came to support the team in addition to “Play4Kay” Day, a charitable organization made in memory of famed North Carolina State University head coach Kay Low. The organization is committed to finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved and unifying people for a common cause. The Rams welcomed female survivors of diseases such as breast cancer. Both VCU and UMass supported the cause as the Rams wore pink jerseys and UMass wore pink shoes and socks.
“Play4Kay is such a special part of college basketball and such an inspirational cause to be a part of,” O’Boyle said. “It’s unbelievable and we’re just excited to be a part of that.”
The Rams would continue their winning ways as the team took on Davidson, Wednesday, Feb. 25 in a nail-biting contest. Davidson started things quickly, scoring a three-pointer right from the start. The Wildcats were able to maintain a steady lead until Thrope stole the ball to help teammate Pegram give VCU the lead 13-12. The game remained close and heading into halftime, VCU led by a narrow margin of 27-26.
In the second half, tied at 40, Davidson scored four unanswered. Sophomore guard Keira Robinson stepped up, going on an 8-0 tear to lead the Rams 51-44. The Wildcats managed to battle back, as the game was tied with 49.4 second remaining. A three-point buzzer beater by Thorpe would cap the win for the Rams and give VCU a 66-63 win, extending Thorpe’s streak of games in double figures to six.
“I’m really proud of our team right now for the way they grinded out,” O’Boyle said after the game. “When you come on the road in the A-10, it doesn’t matter, we knew it was going to be a battle. What a great shot by Isis (Thorpe)to seal the deal for us.”
This was only the second time Davidson and VCU have tipped off against one another with VCU winning both matchups. The Rams are now 6-0 against teams from North Carolina this season.
With a 16-12 record, the Rams finish the regular season March 1 against University of Richmond at the Siegel Center prior to the start of the Atlantic-10 tournament which will be played in the Richmond Coliseum March 4-11.