RICHMOND, Va. – Junior forward Courtney Hurt scored 25 of her game-high 31 points in the second half and Virginia Commonwealth University rallied from six down at the break to defeat in-state foe Longwood, 79-69, Saturday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
VCU has won two of its last three and improves to 4-4 on the season, while Longwood slips to 2-7.
Hurt, who connected on 13 of 16 from the line, hauled in 16 rebounds to go along with her 31 points. She has posted a double-double of at least 20 points and 10 boards in all eight games this season. Redshirt-sophomore Sonia Johnson (pictured, left), who has averaged 19.0 ppg in VCU's last three contests, added 18 points and six rebounds for the Rams. Senior Jessica Taylor chipped in 13, including a perfect 3 of 3 from long range and 4 of 4 from the charity stripe.
Hurt gave VCU a 22-17 lead, its largest of the first half, with a pair of free throws at the 7:40 mark in the opening period. Longwood responded with a 19-6 run over the next seven minutes and took its largest lead of the game at 36-28 on a jumper by Crystal Smith with 18 seconds showing. But a pair of free throws by Jennifer Lane with three seconds left pulled VCU within six at the break.
The Rams stormed out of the locker room and scored eight of the first 10 points and Taylor's triple tied the game at 38-38 with 18:28 to go. Hurt eventually gave the Rams their first lead since the 6:26 mark of the first half on a free throw less than 2:30 later.
After the score was knotted three times over the next two minutes, Chelsea Coward gave Longwood a 50-49 advantage on a layup with 13:35 showing but it was the last time the Lancers would lead. VCU answered with an 18-7 spurt and went on top 67-57 on a free throw by Hurt with 5:09 remaining. Longwood pulled within four twice including 73-69 after an Emilee Dunton layup with 2:37 to go but it was as close as the Lancers would get the rest of the way.
Smith paced three Longwood players in double figures with 18 points off the bench. Bria White added 14 and Brittanni Billups chipped in 12.
VCU went a season-high 29 of 37 from the line, while Longwood attempted a season-low eight free throws (5 of 8).
The Rams are back at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 21 for a 7 p.m., tip-off against Liberty. VCU then closes out its non-conference schedule with at Radford on Dec. 23.