RICHMOND, Va. – Senior forward Courtney Hurt scored 15 of her game-high 17 points in the second half, while classmate Andrea Barbour added 16 and sophomore Robyn Parks chipped in 10 off the bench, but VCU fell just short in a back-and-forth battle against James Madison as the Dukes escaped with a 65-64 victory Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
The lead changed hands 10 times during the final nine minutes of the game and the Rams took their final lead on a drive from Parks with 1:26 to go. On the ensuing possession, Tarik Hislop, who finished with 12 points and a game-high seven assists, scored what proved to be the game-winner for the Dukes with a jumper in the paint with 1:09 remaining.
Senior Chelsea Snyder was just short on an 8-ft. jumper with 36 seconds left, which gave James Madison (19-5, 10-3 CAA) another possession. VCU pressured and Hislop missed a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, but by the time Barbour grabbed the rebound and called timeout, the Rams had just 0.9 seconds to get a shot off. Following the timeout, Barbour sent an inbounds pass to junior Robyn Hobson in the right corner but the Leawood, Kansas native couldn't get off a shot off before the horn.
Hurt (pictured, left) added 19 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season, fourth-most in the NCAA. Snyder finished with eight points and four boards, and Hobson chipped in seven points and a pair of assists for the Rams.
Barbour gave VCU (14-10, 7-6 CAA) an early 10-6 lead with a jumper at the 14:29 mark but James Madison settled in and scored 11 straight and took a nine-point advantage on a basket from Lauren Whitehurst with 10:08 to play.
The Rams cut the deficit to five twice over the next four minutes before a triple from Kirby Burkholder, who finished with a team-high 15 points, and a free throw by Lauren Whitehurst gave James Madison its largest lead of the half at 25-16 with 4:14 remaining.
A pair of jumpers from Parks, who scored VCU's final six points of the period, pulled the Rams within six on two occasions, including 28-22 with 2:16 to go before the break, but a 3-pointer from Nikki Newman extended James Madison's lead to nine again with 1:39 left.
Parks cut the deficit to 31-24 at the break with a bucket less than a minute to go in the half.
James Madison hit three of its first four to start the second stanza and pushed its lead back to 11 on a jumper from Jasmine Gill less than three minutes in. However, Hurt halted the spurt with a pair of free throws, which sparked a 12-0 VCU run and the Rams climbed all the way back to regain the lead, 38-37, on a drive from Hurt with 14:12 remaining.
After a Toia Giggetts basket put the Dukes back on top less than 30 second later, Hobson drained a triple from the left wing to give the Rams a 41-39 lead with 13:10 to go.
James Madison, which picked up its ninth straight win against VCU, would go up by as many as four with 11:21 showing before Hurt again gave the Rams a 51-50 advantage with a jumper in the paint with 8:56 left.
A traditional three-point play by Barbour (pictured, right) and a fast break layup from Hobson gave VCU its largest lead of the game at 56-52 with 6:30 to play.
Whitehurst added 13 points and Kiara Francisco chipped in 10 off the bench for James Madison, which handed VCU just its second home loss in its last nine games at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
VCU concludes its season-long three-game home stand on Thursday, Feb. 16 against William & Mary. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The Rams then travel to Old Dominion on Feb. 19 at 2 p.m.