Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Tied at 62 with 4.8 seconds on the clock, freshman guard Kseniya Malashka threw the ball off the glass to break the tie and propel the Rams over Dayton 64-62 Thursday night. The win extended the Rams’ win streak to six games.
“I think all week long we knew that this was going to come down to those final minutes and that we were going to put ourselves in a great place,” coach Beth O’Boyle said. “Very excited for our team, we know what a big win this was tonight.”
Malashka finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in the win. She was also 7-for-12 from the free throw line.
“One thing that [Malashka] does is she plays hard. She always wants to make the right plays and she can really score it,” O’Boyle said. “She just did some really good things — and what a shot in the last few seconds.”
VCU had not beaten Dayton since the 2015-2016 season, and Thursday night’s win was only the second time the Rams took down the Flyers.
The Rams trailed by as many as 12 points in the third quarter and used two separate 7-0 runs in the fourth quarter to take a one-point lead.
“Defensively, I thought we could have made some adjustments to not allow some good looks from the 3-point line,” O’Boyle said of the halftime message to the team. “We needed to tighten some things up there, so they weren’t getting those looks. We have a tremendous inside game and to keep getting that ball into the paint one way or the other.”
The Rams did not lead until there was 3:19 remaining, as sophomore guard Taya Robinson drained a floater and drew the foul. Robinson made the free throw, giving the Rams their first lead of the night.
Robinson finished with a team-high 20 points and four rebounds.
VCU shot 60 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, 40 percent for the game and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The Flyers took a quick five-point lead to open up the game and led the Rams by as many as six. VCU managed to close the gap to one in the first quarter with a 5-0 run spearheaded by junior forward Danielle Hammond, who scored all five points.
During the run, the Rams held the Flyers off the scoreboard for 4:35, but Dayton’s Maddy Dennis nailed a 3-pointer to push the lead to four.
Dayton did not convert a 2-point basket in the first quarter, shooting 0-for-4 from inside the arc. The Flyers, however, were 3-for-7 from three as they led by four after the first quarter.
The Rams shot 29.2 percent from the field in the first half, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. VCU held the Flyers to shooting 34.8 percent from the field, despite the 41.7 percent mark from beyond the arc.
Robinson hit a three early in the quarter, marking the first made 3-pointer for the Rams in the game. They were 0-for-5 before the Richmond native converted from the corner.
Dayton extended its third-quarter lead to nine, but led by as many as 11 in the period.
The Rams’ bench outscored Dayton’s 38-17 in the contest.