WILMINGTON, N.C. – UNC Wilmington's Treasure Johnson forced overtime following a 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left but Virginia Commonwealth University, which led the first 39:55 of the contest, couldn't hang on in the extra session and fell to first-place UNCW, 68-64, Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.
VCU junior Andrea Barbour, who was fouled on a shot in the lane with 12.6 seconds left in regulation, gave the Rams a 51-48 lead with a pair of free throws. However, on the ensuing UNCW possession, Johnson hit a triple from the right wing to knot the score at 51-51 with 4.8 seconds left. Barbour then drove the length of the floor but her attempt from the top of the arc rattled out as time expired.
The Seahawks (17-4, 9-1 CAA) wasted little time in the extra session, taking their first lead of the game on a layup by Alisha Andrews less than 10 seconds in. Barbour nailed a 3-pointer on the Rams next possession and VCU went back in front 54-53. However, a basket by Johnson with 3:57 to go gave UNCW the lead for good. The Rams would pull within two on four occasions the rest of the way, including 66-64 with 11.2 seconds left, but it was too late to complete the rally.
Barbour finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and four steals for VCU (12-8, 7-3 CAA), while junior Courtney Hurt chipped in 14 points and seven boards. Classmate Jennifer Lane added 10 points and four assists.
UNCW senior center Martha White scored 19 of her game-high 27 points in the second half and fueled the Seahawks rally. Teammate Brittany Blackwell finished just three rebounds shy of a triple-double, contributing 15 points, 10 steals and seven rebounds.
The Seahawks pulled within 10-8 on a free throw by Blackwell at the 14:44 mark in the opening period. VCU, which hit eight of its first 11 from the field, followed with a 14-4 run and went ahead 23-12 after Barbour hit a jumper in transition less than six minutes later.
UNCW didn't back down, scoring five straight and narrowed the deficit to six on a White free throw with 6:24 showing. However, the surge didn't last long as VCU went back on top 29-18 following a layup by sophomore Sonia Johnson two minutes later.
The Rams, who shot 72.7 percent (16 of 22) from the field in the first half, pushed their lead to 13 with 1:50 to go, but Jessica Freeman's jumper with two seconds remaining cut the VCU lead to 33-22 at the break
Hurt, who leads the Rams and ranks third in the nation in scoring, played just 10 minutes in the first stanza after picking up her second foul with 8:15 to go. However, the Rams responded with balanced scoring as seven different players found the cylinder in her absence.
UNCW stormed out of the locker room scoring 12 of the first 16 points in the second stanza and pulled within 37-34 on a jumper by White just six minutes in. White, who scored nine of the Seahawks points during their 16-7 run, cut VCU's lead to 39-38 with 12:07 to go.
A jumper by freshman Robyn Parks, who scored with eight points off the bench, and a fast break layup by Hurt extended the Rams' lead to 44-38 less than three minutes later but UNCW continued to pressure and got within two on a layup from White with 8:29 remaining.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession over the next four minutes as neither team would score until Hurt ended the drought from the line with 4:13 showing. A stick-back by Barbour (pictured, left) on the following possession gave the Rams a 47-42 advantage.
White would again pull the Seahawks within a point after a pair from the line with 1:37 remaining before Johnson erased a three-point deficit with a triple at the end of regulation.
VCU handed UNCW its only conference loss of the season with a 70-58 victory in Richmond on Jan. 6. The Seahawks ended a four-game losing streak against the Rams.
VCU concludes its two-game road swing with a 2 p.m. matchup at Northeastern on Sunday. The Rams then return to the Verizon Wireless Arena for three straight home games beginning with first-place James Madison on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.