LYNCHBURG, Va. - Senior guard Andrea Barbour (pictured) scored a game-high 18 points and VCU fended off a furious second half rally in a key 52-47 road win over Liberty University Tuesday night at the Vines Center.
The Rams (1-1) rebounded from Friday's season-opening loss and picked up their second straight victory in Lynchburg. The road team has won the last three games in the series dating back to the 2008-09 campaign. Tuesday's game was also just the sixth loss Liberty has suffered at home since the 2006-07 season, two of which have come against VCU.
For the second game in a row, Barbour paced the Rams offensively with back-to-back 18-point performances. Sophomore Robyn Parks added 11 points and a game-high four steals, while junior Carleeda Green, who gave VCU key minutes off the bench, finished with nine points and two assists.
Both teams got off to a slow start hitting a combined 4 of 21 from the field through the first six minutes of the game as VCU held a narrow 5-4 advantage at the 13:18 mark. The lead changed hands five times during that stretch until the Rams scored on three straight possessions and moved ahead by five on a jumper by Parks with 11:48 showing.
Liberty (1-1), the preseason favorite in the Big South Conference, pulled within 9-7 on a free throw by Tolu Omotola with 7:35 left, and later made it 13-10 at the line with 4:10 remaining. It was as close as the Flames would get, however, as VCU scored the final 11 points of the half and took a 24-10 lead into the locker room. Green scored seven points during the run, while senior Jennifer Lane gave the Rams their largest lead of the period with a 3-pointer from the left corner with eight seconds to go.
VCU held Liberty to just 10 points on 16.7 percent shooting in the first half, while forcing 13 turnovers.
Lane extended the Rams' lead to 31-14 with a triple from the left corner with 15:44 left but Liberty caught fire and reeled off 14 straight and pulled within 33-30 with 10 minutes to play. A pair of Parks free throws halted the Flames' rally and VCU scored nine of the next 11 points and built a 42-32 advantage with 7:54 to go.
A traditional three-point play by Devon Brown and a triple from the right wing from Danika Dale pulled Liberty within four less than two minutes later.
The Rams went back ahead 47-40 on a three-point play by Barbour with 2:27 to go. Avery Warley scored four straight to get Liberty within three but it was as close as the Flames would get the rest of the way. VCU hit five of its final eight from the free throw line to hold off Liberty's rally.
Senior forward Courtney Hurt's school record 41 straight double-figure scoring games came to an end as she finished with just six points. The Conyers, Ga., native has scored at least 10 points in 56 of VCU's last 61 contests.
VCU concludes its two-game road swing on Saturday, Nov. 19 when the Rams travel to Missouri-Kansas City. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m., and will mark the first-ever meeting between the schools. VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Nov. 22 against Charlotte.