RICHMOND, Va. – Junior guard Andrea Barbour (pictured, left) poured in a game-high 23 points and classmate Courtney Hurt added 19 in Virginia Commonwealth University's 67-52 win against Georgia State Thursday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
VCU, which shot a season-high 52 percent from the field, picked up its seventh victory in nine games and improves to 11-7 overall, 6-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Georgia State, which has never beaten VCU as a member of the CAA (0-11), has lost 11 of its last 15 and falls to 7-12, 2-6.
"I thought we had an outstanding defensive effort today, especially in the second half," said VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham. "We talked about trying to turn it up a bit defensively and we really came out with that focus in the final 20 minutes. Offensively, we shot the ball well percentage wise but a lot of that was about us making good decisions and taking good shots."
Barbour's 23 points was her highest output since joining the VCU lineup on Dec. 23. She is averaging 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in the Rams last nine outings.
"Andrea is getting more comfortable with every game that she plays," Cunningham said. "You could really tell she was ready to go today. She stayed in the gym a little extra this week working on her jump shot, so it was good to see that work pay off with some of the perimeter shots she hit tonight."
Hurt, who also pulled down nine rebounds, failed to post a double-double for the second straight game. She leads the nation with 15 double-doubles in 18 tries.
Hurt (pictured, right) and Barbour combined to score 20 of the first 26 points for VCU and the Black & Gold jumped out to a 26-10 advantage on a layup by sophomore Sonia Johnson with 8:05 to play. A basket by Cody Paulk on the following possession halted VCU's 23-5 run and Chan Harris scored seven straight to pull the Panthers within seven at the 5:20 mark.
A triple by freshman Jacqueline Brewer sparked an 11-3 Rams' spurt to close the half and VCU took a 37-21 advantage into the locker room.
The Rams shot 54 percent (14 of 26) from the field in the opening period as Hurt and Barbour paced VCU with 12 points apiece.
Georgia State pulled within 46-35 on a pair of free throws by Angelique Burtts with 10:21 to go but VCU pushed its lead back to 17 on a traditional three-point play by Barbour with 9:29 remaining.
The Panthers made one final push to get within 52-39 on a layup by Harris less than a minute later but it was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
VCU took its largest lead of the game at 65-44 on a jumper by freshman Robyn Parks with 2:55 left. Georgia State scored six of the final eight points of the game but it was too late for a rally.
The Rams welcome Drexel to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Sunday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. VCU then hits the road for back-to-back CAA contests at UNC Wilmington (Feb. 3) and Northeastern (Feb. 6).