FINAL: VCU 53, Temple 51 (Philadelphia, Pa.)
VCU STARTERS: #1 Atwater, #3 Green, #20 Alaeze, #24 Parks, #30 Henry, S.
TEMPLE STARTERS: #1 Coville, #3 Brown, #23 Williams, #25 MaCaulay, #32 Thames`
- Temple used a 13-4 run to cut its deficit to two with 18.9 seconds showing but VCU, which never trailed after the six-minute mark in the first half, held strong on the Owls' final possession and picked up its first-ever Atlantic 10 Conference victory with a 53-51 road triumph Wednesday night.
- Three different Rams scored in double figures, including freshman Adaeze Alaeze's first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Robyn Parks added a team-best 14 points and rookie Janniina Koivunen chipped in 11 off the bench.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- VCU (8-9, 1-1 A-10) set the tone on the defensive end early, holding Temple (7-9, 1-1 A-10) to just 9-of-33 (.273) shooting in the first half, including 2-of-14 to start the game.
- Koivunen knocked down three of VCU's four first-half 3-pointers, including a turnaround triple from the top of the arc that put the Rams in front for good, 21-19, with 5:42 left in the opening stanza.
- VCU carried that momentum the remainder of the half, eventually using a 13-2 spurt to build an eight-point lead with 2:36 showing. Five different VCU players scored during the run, including four points from Alaeze.
- Brown cut Temple's deficit to 29-26 with back-to-back buckets with 1:30 left before the break but junior Zakia Williams grabbed an offensive rebound and knocked down a jumper to give VCU a 31-26 edge at intermission.
- Temple knotted the game at 31-31 less than two minutes into the second half but the Rams responded with six straight points – including two big baskets from Parks – to extend their lead again.
- A layup from Jacquilyn Jackson made it a one-point game with just under 13 minutes to play, but as they did the entire game, the Rams answered with a surge of their own, this time scoring 10 straight points (six from Alaeze) and built a 49-38 lead with 6:42 left.
- Temple began to chip away and used a 13-4 spurt and eventually pulled within 53-51 on Rateska Brown's sixth 3-pointer with 18.9 seconds remaining.
- After freshman Kaneisha Atwater, who finished with eight points and a game-high five assists, missed the front end of a one-and-one, Temple grabbed the rebound and had a chance on its final possession. After Sally Kabengano missed a jumper with less than five seconds to go, Victoria MaCaulay grabbed the offensive rebound and was in position to hit the game-tying layup but Parks held strong on defense and forced a miss with one second left. Senior Carleeda Green then came up with the rebound to seal the win.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
- After Koivunen's triple with less than six minutes to go in the first half, Temple was only able to tie the game twice the rest of the way.
- Three freshmen – Koivunen (11), Alaeze (10) and Atwater (8) – combined to score more than half (29) of VCU's 53 points. Koivunen and Alaeze also played a career-high 35 and 28 minutes, respectively.
- The Rams, who limited the Owls to 28.6 percent shooting, held their fifth opponent to under 30 percent from the field this season.
- Wednesday's game marked VCU's first win by fewer than 11 points all year.
- VCU held a 28-14 advantage in the paint and a 17-10 edge in bench scoring.
- Temple, picked to finish fifth among 16 Atlantic 10 teams in this year's preseason poll, has won 20 games each of the last four seasons including three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
WHAT'S AHEAD: VCU returns home for back-to-back games inside the Verizon Wireless Arena, beginning against George Washington on Jan. 20. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. The Rams then host Duquesne on Jan. 23. Check VCUAthletics.com for complete game coverage.