After a tough start to conference play, women’s basketball came away with a pair of pivotal come-from-behind victories last week to improve to 4-4 in the Atlantic 10.
“Conference play has definitely been tougher competition for us, but our lack of execution late in games is what has lost us games. It’s just mental mistakes, you know, stuff we’ve reviewed,” said junior guard Isis Thorpe.
Head Coach Beth O’Boyle and the girls defeated the University of Richmond Jan. 25 by a score of 53-42 after trailing heading into the fourth quarter, overcoming a 15 point halftime deficit to defeat Fordham University 61-51 the following Wed., January 27.
The Monday matchup with familiar uptown foe U of R was a back and forth affair. The Spiders were on top to close out the 1st and 3rd quarters, but a 26-21 halftime lead for VCU translated into a 53-42 victory. The Lady Rams are 13-2 when leading at the half this season.
The game was decided by a 10-0 Rams run to open the 4th quarter. Junior guard Keira Robinson and senior forward Adaeze Alaeze capped the onslaught with transition layups after their defensive intensity forced turnovers on the other end.
The Rams forced 12 turnovers in the contest and have reached double digits in that category every game this season — an impressive feat.
Sixth-man specialist Courteeona Brelove scored a career high 18 points to lead her team. When asked what turned the tide in the 4th quarter, Thorpe credited her team’s defensive commitment and transition offense.
“We knew they were fatigued in the 4th quarter, and we tried to push the pace,” Thorpe said. “Getting stops defensively that lead to our transition game is key for us.”
The momentum would carry over to Wednesday’s matchup with the Fordham Rams, but not initially.
The other Rams came out on fire from long-range, shooting a gaudy 58 percent from 3-point land in the first half. Guard Hannah Missry had 15 points and did not miss a shot.
Center Samantha Clark chipped in 10 points and an imposing post presence, resulting in a 37-22 halftime deficit for O’Boyle and VCU to overcome.
The second half was a different ballgame entirely. VCU took its defensive intensity to the next level and opened the 3rd quarter with a 14-0 run, spurred by steals and transition buckets from Robinson and guard Ashley Pegram.
Fordham called a timeout with 2:03 to go in the 3rd in an effort to stop the bleeding. Out of the time-out, they went to Clark in the post for their first points of the half and would cling to a 42-40 lead going into the final quarter.
But Havoc was relentless in nature.
Robinson and Alaeze led the Rams 4th quarter charge by converting offensive chances created by constant back-court pressure.
VCU grabbed its first lead since the 8:01 to go in the 1st quarter after a steal and 3-point play the old way by Alaeze. Robinson added a lay-in after stealing an inbounds pass with a minute to go to seal the deal and the real Rams came away with a hard fought 61-51 win.
When asked what she told the team at halftime, O’Boyle said she “told them that we had to be more disciplined defensively.”
The Rams got the message, as they held Fordham to just 14 second half points and shut out their leading scorer Missry.
Zach Joachim, Contributing Writer