March 18, 2012

BARBOUR’S LAST SECOND BASKET HELPS VCU TO 67-65 OVERTIME WIN AT ST. JOE’S, RAMS ADVANCE TO THIRD ROUND OF WNIT FOR SECOND TIME IN THREE YEARS

By Andrew Phillips, VCU Athletic Communications Student Assistant

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Virginia Commonwealth University women's basketball team used a 6-0 run capped off by an Andrea Barbour layup with 0.7 seconds left in overtime to beat St. Joseph's 67-65 Sunday afternoon in the second round of the Postseason Women's National Invitation Tournament.

With the victory, VCU advances to the third round of the WNIT for the second time in three seasons.  The Rams improve to 19-14, while St. Joe's finishes the year 22-11.

VCU was led by Barbour (pictured, left), who finished with a season-high 26 points to go along with eight rebounds, and senior classmate Courtney Hurt, who posted her 22nd double-double with 19 points and a game-high 19 boards. Sophomore Robyn Parks chipped in eight points off the bench for the Black & Gold.

For the second straight game, Barbour and Hurt sparked the Ram's late rally. Trailing 65-61 with 51 seconds left in overtime, St. Joe's Michelle Baker missed the front end of a one-and-one, which gave VCU another possession. Barbour corralled the ball at half court, drove through the paint and was fouled. The Charlottesville, Va. native then hit both free throws to cut the deficit 65-63 with 41 seconds remaining.

Another VCU foul sent the Hawks' Ashley Prim to the line, but she also missed her first attempt.  The Rams again got the ball back and went inside, but after a missed VCU jumper, Hurt grabbed the offensive board and was fouled, which sent her to the charity stripe for a one-and-one. The Conyers, Ga. native stepped to the line and drained both to tie the game at 65-65.

The Hawks had a chance to go ahead on the ensuing possession, but VCU came up with perhaps its biggest defensive stop of the year.  Freshman Christina Carter and Barbour pressured Baker, forced a turnover, and Carter came up with the loose ball.  She then passed to Barbour near the Hawks' 3-point line and drove through the paint, finishing off the glass with 0.7 left.

St. Joe's attempted a desperation pass to half-court, but Barbour tipped it away and time expired.

"It was another gutsy effort and great road win for our team," VCU Head Coach Beth Cunningham said. "Again our player stepped up down the stretch, made big plays and refused to lose.  I'm extremely proud of this group for sticking together and finding a way to win."

The first half was a back-and-forth battle with St. Joe's holding a slight lead over the Rams for most of the period. With 4:28 remaining in the half, Barbour hit a 3-pointer to close the gap at 31-30. The Hawks, however, answered with a 7-2 run in the final three minutes to take their largest lead at the time, 38-32, at the break. 

St. Joe's picked up where it left on in the first half, and extended the lead to 44-36, its biggest of the game, on a jumper from Samira Van Grisven in the opening minutes of the second stanza. 

However, the Rams found their groove over the next six minutes and used a 14-6 spurt to tie the game at 50-50 on a triple from junior Robyn Hobson.  The Black & Gold later extended its lead to 56-52 on put-back from Barbour with 4:24 to go.

St. Joe's would not go away though, as the Hawks scored nine of the final 14 points in regulation to tie the game at 61-61 with 21 seconds left.  

Both teams had looks late in regulation to get a win. Barbour went strong the hole, but her shot was blocked giving the Hawks the ball back.  St. Joe's Erin Shields then fired a trey as time expired in regulation, but it didn't find the net.

St. Joe's went on to score the first four points of overtime to take a 65-61 advantage, before Barbour and Hurt (pictured, right) provided their own form of March Madness for VCU, scoring the final six points to hand the Rams their second come-from-behind victory in as many games.

St. Joe's finished with four players in double-figure scoring, led by Baker's 16 points.  Prim had 15, while Katie Kuester and Van Grinsven finished with 10 apiece. Van Grinsven also had a team-high 10 rebounds.

VCU advances to third round of the Postseason WNIT and will face the winner of the Toledo/Cincinnati matchup, which is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m.

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