The VCU women’s basketball team went out in style against two conference foes who have posed trouble in the past. The Rams outlasted George Mason University on senior night Feb. 24 and Davidson University in their last away contest on Feb. 27.
On Wednesday, VCU welcomed GMU to the Stu for its first meeting since last month’s disappointing 70-54 loss. Determined to deliver a better performance, the Rams got off to a quick start with back-to-back easy buckets to begin the game.
The Patriots would quickly get back on track though and take a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter. Despite poor shooting from the field, VCU ended the first quarter with a four point lead.
From late in the first quarter to the 4:39 mark in the second, the Rams ran off on a 16-0 run led by senior Adaeze Alaeze. The Rams went into the half with a 10 point lead, holding George Mason to shooting below 25 percent from the field. In the second half, VCU was able to build upon its first half success on the offensive and defensive end.
George Mason came out early in the third, with a few quick buckets that cut the lead down to just four points with a little over five minutes remaining in the quarter. In the same scenario as in the first half, VCU rattled off another big run just when Mason got it close. The Rams scored 12 straight unanswered points until finally allowing a score in the final minute of the third quarter.
To begin the fourth quarter, the Rams tacked on an additional 13-0 run that would put the game out of reach. The game ended with a VCU victory, 65-34.
VCU dominated inside, scoring 44 points in the paint and only allowing 16 to George Mason. The deciding factor was the Rams’ defense, which forced 17 turnovers and held George Mason to shooting just 26 percent from the field.
Senior Adaeze Alaeze led the team offensively, scoring 21 points. Senior Jessica Ogunnorin, Junior Keira Robinson and Sophomore Curteeona Breelove each contributed eight points apiece.
Head coach Beth O’Boyle was happy with the team’s effort, and said she felt it was a great game for the older players who shined.
“I thought it was a terrific showing for our team, and when it’s your senior night you want to send off your seniors in the right way,” O’Boyle said. “Our overall intensity and effort was great, especially in the second half, and when we play like that, good things always happen for us.”
On Saturday, the Rams traveled to Davidson University, to close out the regular season. VCU opened the game sluggishly on the defensive end, allowing 19 points in the first quarter.
Despite the slow start, Ashley Pegram was active early. She scored four points and grabbed three rebounds in the first quarter. VCU went into the second quarter trailing by six, 19-13. The second quarter action was much of the same as the Rams were unable to take the lead, but were more active on defense. VCU went into the locker room trailing 35-28 at the half.
VCU came out blazing early in the second half, going on a 14-0 run in the third to take a six point lead. The Rams took advantage of the 18 forced turnovers, especially in the third quarter during this run.
Alaeze and Pegram’s big fourth quarter sealed the VCU victory as they combined for 13 points in the final quarter. Davidson put up a valiant effort, but it wasn’t enough to withstand the Rams’ second half dominance.
VCU came out victorious, with a final score of 74-59. Alaeze had a team high of 17 points, while Ogunnorin grabbed nine rebounds.
The victory improved VCU’s record to 21-8, heading into the conference tournament as the fifth seed. Being 10-6 in the conference, the Rams finished with their best record since joining the Atlantic 10.
VCU will next participate in the A-10 Conference Tournament, which begins this Wed., March 2..
Marcus Blackwell, Contributing writer