Women’s basketball split a pair of out of conference tests last week. The Rams fell to the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota Tuesday night before defeating the Camels of Campbell University on Saturday.
The Rams picked up their second win of the season Saturday night, knocking off the Campbell Camels 66-53.
In their first road game of the new season, VCU re-discovered their shooting touch after struggling against Minnesota on Tuesday. Saturday, the Rams shot over 50 percent from the field and a staggering 80 percent from beyond the arc.
Bria Gibson, Curteeona Brelove and Isis Thorpe each contributed double-digit scoring numbers, but it was the Rams’ two-way attack that ultimately paved the way to victory.
The VCU defense, led by senior captain Keira Robinson’s stout 9 point, 7 rebound, 5 steal and 1 block stat line, wreaked havoc on the Camels, as the Rams ran away with 24 points off turnovers and held their opponents to just 33.3 percent shooting and 16.7 percent from deep.
“I thought our team defense was consistent for 40 minutes,” Rams head coach Beth O’Boyle said. “It was great to see another game with such a balanced attack.”
The Camels hopped out to an early lead Saturday, but after Robinson’s made layup put VCU ahead 6-4 with 5:09 left in the first quarter, the Rams never looked back.
Campbell, led by Summer Price’s game-high 23 points, charged back in the second quarter to bring the Camels to within four, but back-to-back threes by senior Mooriah Rowser put the Rams firmly in control.
In the second half, VCU put the game away as the Rams continued their onslaught, shooting nearly 60% from the field as the game wore on and eventually picking up their first road win of the new season.
The Rams continue the new season Tuesday as they return home to take on the visiting IUPUI Jaguars at 6 pm.
“We are looking forward to getting another win at the Stu,” O’Boyle said.
The women’s basketball team suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday night after falling to the visiting University of Minnesota 79-69.
Senior captain Keira Robinson was the Rams’ standout performer on the night, but the Columbia, S.C. product’s well-rounded 20 point, five rebound, three assist and four block stat line was not enough to help the Rams keep up with the Gophers’ high-powered offense.
VCU’s high-tempo style of play stifled the Gophers in the first quarter, as the Rams jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and closed the quarter with a 13-12 advantage over Minnesota. However, they couldn’t hold down the Gophers’ offense for long.
In the second quarter, Minnesota took command. The Gophers, led by junior guard Carlie Wagner, shot over 59-percent from the field in the period and turned their one-point deficit into a 19-point lead by halftime.
Wagner and fellow backcourt mate Kenisha Bell combined for 18 points in the quarter, doubling the Rams second-quarter scoring output themselves.
VCU head coach Beth O’Boyle said the Gophers’ big second quarter really made things difficult for the Rams.
“We just had that tough second quarter,” O’Boyle said. “And it got the lead to where they could play comfortable and when you have that lead it allows everyone to make shots.”
Although they were down by nearly 20 as the second half begun, O’Boyle said the Rams were determined to prove they weren’t going down in front of a home crowd without a fight. She added she was impressed with her team’s resolve.
Her squad bounced back by going on a 20-10 run late in the third quarter, nearly pulling the visitors’ lead to single digits, but ultimately, it was not enough.
“We came out in the second half and you wouldn’t have thought we were down 20. We just talked about cutting it to ten,” O’Boyle said. “I felt like we were close there the whole game — we just couldn’t get that momentum to really put some pressure on them.”
Tuesday’s game marked the return of former Rams head coach Marlene Stollings. This was Stollings’ the first visit back to the Siegel Center since accepting the position with the Golden Gophers in 2014.
Robinson, who was recruited to VCU by Stollings in 2013, said it was nice to see her former coach, but added that Stollings’ return was just another game.
“I didn’t have any revenge in my mind, I just wanted to get out and play,” Robinson said. “(Stollings) spoke (to me) and said good luck on the season and how proud of me she was and I appreciated that.”
Apart from the loss, the Rams suffered a significant setback after senior post player Camille Calhoun went down with a left leg injury early in the first quarter. Calhoun was seen leaving the stadium on crutches, but O’Boyle said the severity of Calhoun’s injury is still unknown.
“We don’t know anything yet,” O’Boyle said. “But these guys played all last year without her and I know they’re disappointed from a friendship level because they like to have her out on the floor, but from a basketball standpoint, we have so many players that are excited about playing this year. They’ll step up and then support Camille through whatever injuries she may have.”
O’Boyle said Tuesday’s loss will help prepare her squad for their next game against Campbell University on Saturday.
“When you have a big game, you have to bounce back,” O’Boyle said. “We’re at Campbell. It’s our first road game and that will be another good experience for us.”
The Rams will welcome Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to the Stu on Tuesday night before heading down to San Juan, Fla. for the San Juan Shootout tournament where they will take on American University and Villanova University on Nov. 24 and 25, respectively.
Nick Versaw, Contributing Writer
Julie Tripp, Photo Editor
Julie is a senior studying photography with a minor in media studies. This is her third year working with the CT, and she spent last summer interning for Richmond Magazine. Last semester, Julie spent a semester abroad studying photography at The University of the West of England. After Julie graduates she plans on pursuing a career as a photojournalist for print and online publications.
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