For women’s hoops, the 2015-16 season got off to a blistering start.
An 11-2 mark heading into conference play had expectations sky-high for head coach Beth O’Boyle and her team. After splitting their first four Atlantic 10 contests however, it became clear that the intensity of the A-10 would test VCU as the rest of its schedule had not.
The Rams began their third week of conference play by welcoming the Davidson College Wildcats to the Stu on Sunday, Jan. 17.
An up-tempo first half affair suited O’Boyle and her girls, VCU took a 29-28 lead into the locker room. The Rams would force double digit turnovers on the day as they continue to lead the A-10 in steals, turnovers forced and turnover margin.
The Wildcats came out with a purpose in the third quarter. A 1-point Rams lead turned into an eight point deficit heading into the 4th quarter. Davidson was able to dictate the tempo and slow down the pace of the game to better fit their style by taking longer possessions, outscoring VCU 30-20 in the paint, out-rebounding them 36-32, and outscoring them in second chance opportunities 11-6.
The Rams rallied down 13 with five minutes to go. A pair of Wildcat turnovers led to two Courteeona Brelove layups to cut Davidson’s lead down to single digits. Junior guard Isis Thorpe made things interesting when a couple connections from beyond the arc reduced the deficit to just four points, but VCU was unable to complete the comeback and fell by a final score of 56-50.
Thorpe led the Rams effort with 17 points, while going 5-11 from beyond the arc. She continues to lead VCU in scoring and three point field goals on the season.
A strong effort from VCU Sunday was overshadowed by their poor shooting performance. The Rams shot 32.2 percent from the field, their lowest mark of the season, and were held to just six chances from the charity stripe.
VCU looked to turn things around against another A-10 foe George Mason University on Wed. Jan. 20. It would however, prove to be a frustrating night in Fairfax.
The Patriots led from start to finish after taking a 15-10 lead out of the first quarter.
VCU was again able to force double digit turnovers, converting them into fifteen points. The Rams also doubled GMU’s second chance points output at 17-8, out-rebounded the Patriots 37-30, outscored them in the paint, 32-18 and from the bench, 32-19.
George Mason’s wire-to-wire lead was driven by another suspect evening from the field by VCU. The Rams shot 32.8 percent overall and a dreadful 1-14 from downtown. The Patriots, for their part, shot an impressive 53.3 percent from the field while going 4-11 from beyond the arc.
GMU starters outscored VCU starters 51-22. Ashley Pegram led the Rams with 11 points and 3 steals. The Patriots came away victorious by a final tally of 70-54.
The Rams will seek to turn the tables on conference play going forward, as they have now fallen to 2-4 in the A-10 after an exciting out-of-conference start to the season.
VCU’s next test will come Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. when they welcome familiar foe the University of Richmond to the Stu. This game, originally scheduled for Sunday at U of R, has been flexed due to the winter storm.
Zach Joachim, Contributing Writer