VCU 72, Virginia Tech 58
RICHMOND, Va. - The question on everyone's mind entering the 2009-10 Virginia Commonwealth University women's basketball season was how are the Rams going to replace the two leading scorers from last year's NCAA Tournament squad?
That was answered emphatically in the Black & Gold's 72-58 home victory over the Hokies of Virginia Tech on Monday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center when VCU placed five in double-figures led by sophomore Courtney Hurt's (Conyers, Ga.) 16 points.
"This is a great win for us in some many ways," Head Coach Beth Cunningham said. "The thing I'm most proud of is the way each girl took a turn at some point in the game to step up and make plays."
Sophomore point guard Jennifer Lane (Wichita, Kan.) took over at the start of the game with five of VCU's first nine points as the Rams ran out to a 9-4 advantage just three minutes into the game.
Virginia Tech would not go away as the teams battled back and forth with five ties and six lead changes in the first half before the Black & Gold put together an 8-3 run capped by four points from Hurt and three from senior Stephanie Solomon (Las Vegas, Nev.) to take a 30-24 lead into halftime.
The Rams looked to put the game away coming out of the locker room with a 15-4 run ignited by six points and four rebounds by Solomon.
A 17-point lead would be whittled down to just six points after Shanel Harrison capped off a 16-5 run by the visiting Hokies.
Senior La'Tavia Rorie (Charlotte, N.C.) (right) would not let Tech get any closer, drilling a three-pointer to push the lead to nine. It would be the closest the Hokies got the rest of the night.
Junior Ebony Patterson (Chesterfield, Va.) scored six of 10 points over the final eight minutes to help VCU put away the 72-58 victory.
Hurt added six rebounds to her 16 points, while Solomon recorded her first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds on her 23rd birthday. Patterson finished with career-highs in points with 10, assists with six and rebounds with five. Lane and Rorie added 11 and 10 points respectively.
Utahya Drye led the scoring attack for the Hokies with 14 points, while Alyssa Fenyn chipped in 13 points in the losing effort.
The Black & Gold are back in action this weekend when they travel to the Seton Hall Tournament to take on Arkansas State in the first round. Game time on Friday is set for 4 p.m.
Hofstra 77, Buffalo 60
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - Freshman forward Shante Evans scored a game-high 17 points and added 15 rebounds in her collegiate debut, leading Hofstra to a season-opening 77-60 victory over Buffalo Monday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
Fellow freshman Candace Bond (Fort Washington, MD) scored six points and added eight rebounds off the bench. Sophomore forward Marie Malone (Virginia Beach, VA) also was a valuable reserve, scoring 11 points in her Hofstra debut as the Pride improved to 1-0. Buffalo's Jessica Fortman scored 13 points, though the Bulls fell to 1-1.
Evans (West Chester, PA) became the second Hofstra player in two seasons to log a double-double in her first game, accomplishing the feat in just 27 minutes despite not starting. Joelle Connelly (Arcade, NY) finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds against Iona last year.
The Pride held a 53-29 rebounding advantage and held Buffalo to just 35.1 percent field goal shooting. Sophomore guard Candice Bellocchio (Staten Island, NY) was the third Hofstra players to score in double figures, adding 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Hofstra utilized a zone defense to limit Buffalo star forward Kourtney Brown, who exploded for 33 points and 22 rebounds in a season-opening win over Niagara. The Pride's zone defense consistently collapsed the key and held Brown to nine points and 10 rebounds.
A 29-10 overall second-half run allowed the Pride to turn a close contest into a comfortable lead. After falling down by two at halftime, Hofstra scored the first six points to open the second half.
The Pride generated stifling pressure to jump-start a 10-0 run. Hofstra forced nine missed shots and four turnovers in a 5:55 span that turned a 50-48 deficit into an eight-point lead.
Evans, who shot 7-16, capped the run by lowering her shoulder on a baseline-power move for a layup that capped the run and handed Hofstra a 58-50 advantage with 10:33 left. The move was indicative of Hofstra's advantage in the paint. The Pride outscored the Bulls, 48-18, in the key.
Sophomore Nicole Capurso (Staten Island, NY) scored seven of her nine points in the second half to sustain the late scoring barrage. Capurso started, but the rest of the Hofstra reserves scored 36 points. Buffalo's bench was out-scored by 15 points.
Evans made her collegiate debut 3:07 into the game with Hofstra down 9-7 and immediately found a comfort zone in the low-post. Evans scored 11 points and added six rebounds in just 13 minutes in the first half.
The Pride received valuable contributions from another freshman after Bond capped an 11-1 run with a layup off an offensive rebound for a 26-17 lead that forced Buffalo to call timeout at the 11:16 mark.
But Buffalo responded to the timeout, surging to a 40-38 halftime edge thanks to a pair of three-pointers from Fortman and Beth Christensen (11 points) in the final 1:46. The Bulls connected on four three-pointers and held Hofstra to 0-2 from beyond the arc to take the lead at the break despite the Pride building a 23-14 rebounding edge.
Following a one-day break, Hofstra will be back in action Wednesday night when it plays St. Francis (NY) to open the schedule's road slate. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Richmond 78, George Mason 52
RICHMOND, Va. - Junior Brittany Poindexter and freshman Amber Easter each had 14 points as the George Mason women's basketball team fell in its first road contest of the season, a 78-52 defeat at Richmond on Monday afternoon at the Robins Center. The Spiders improved to 2-0 while the Patriots' season record dropped to 1-1.
Mason held the lead through the first scheduled timeout, 6-5, as both teams got off to a sloppy and turnover-prone start. The teams swapped leads six times during the half, all within the first 10:32. A 20-7 run by the Spiders, though, pushed their lead to double digits with 4:30 to go in the opening half. That advantage would grow as large as 15, including the halftime margin of 36-21.
The Patriots out-rebounded Richmond by an 18-16 margin, but Mason's 17 turnovers in the first half ultimately told the story at the break, compared to just seven for the Spiders. Shells led the way for UR with 13 points, while four Patriots each had four points in the opening stanza.
While the teams were mostly even through the first part of the second half, the Patriots were unable to counter the deficit. Mason did have a strong 9-2 run covering 2:18 to close the gap to 63-46.
The Patriots continue their intrastate road trip this Thursday when they travel to Virginia Tech. Tip time from Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg is set for 7 p.m.