Rams Fall to Hot Shooting George Washington Squad in A-10 Home Opener

FINAL: George Washington 79, VCU 68 (Richmond, Va.)

VCU STARTERS: #1 Atwater, #3 Green, #20 Alaeze, #24 Parks, #30 Henry

GEORGE WASHINGTON STARTERS:
#1 Miller, #12 Jackson, #15 White, #22 Nipe, #31 Booker

THE BASICS:
Junior Robyn Parks led all scorers with a game-high 23 points and freshman Kaneisha Atwater added a career-best 17 points and eight rebounds, but VCU couldn't overcome a hot shooting George Washington squad, and dropped its Atlantic 10 home opener 79-68 Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

HOW IT HAPPENED:
  • George Washington (7-10, 1-2 A-10) caught fire early, shooting nearly 70 percent (18-of-26) from the field in the first half.  Despite the Colonials hot shooting, neither team led by more than five points through the first 14 minutes of the game. 
  • Shi-Heria Shipp gave George Washington a 21-16 lead at the 9:24 mark before VCU (8-10, 1-2 A-10) settled in and answered with an 18-6 run spanning five minutes, capped by four straight 3-pointers.  Atwater hit back-to-back threes to give the Rams a five-point advantage before freshmen Adaeze Alaeze and Jessica Pellechio followed with triples that pushed VCU's lead to 34-27 with 4:11 to go.
  • Sara Mostafa halted the Rams' spurt with a bucket on George Washington's next possession and then converted a traditional three-point play to further close the gap with 3:24 showing.
  • After a pair of Atwater free throws gave VCU a 36-32 lead with three minutes left before the break, the Colonials continued their surge, scoring the final 10 points of the half.
  • VCU could only cut its deficit to four points twice during the first 11 minutes of the second stanza as George Washington answered each attempt at a rally.
  • Trailing 59-53 with 6:24 to go, VCU made one final push as a triple from senior Carleeda Green made it a three-point game less than a minute later.  Alaeze eventually pulled the Rams within 61-59 at the line with four minutes to play. 
  • It was as close as VCU would get, however, as George Washington held on to the lead.  The Rams cut it to at least five on six occasions the remainder of the game but the Colonials hit 10-of-10 free throws during the final 3:30 to seal the win.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
  • Parks, who ranks second in the A-10 in scoring, reached the 20-point plateau for the sixth time this season.
  • Atwater's career-high 17 points were the most by a VCU freshman since Pellechio's 20 against UMBC on Dec. 5.  The Fort Pierce, Fla., native, who has made three straight starts, is averaging 11.4 points during her last seven games.
  • Senior Daphne Adebayo matched her career high with eight points to go along with five rebounds in a season-best 21 minutes off the bench.  She also went a perfect 2-of-2 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
  • Green, who finished with eight points, dished out six assists for the seventh time this season.
  • VCU forced 20 turnovers for the sixth time this year.
  • After George Washington shot a sizzling 69.2 percent (18-of-26) in the first half, VCU held the Colonials to 37.9 percent (11-of-29) shooting in the second stanza.
WHAT'S AHEAD: VCU hosts Duquesne on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.  The Rams then travel to fellow A-10 newcomer Butler on Jan. 27 before welcoming nationally ranked Dayton to the Verizon Wireless Arena on Jan. 30.  Check VCUAthletics.com for complete game coverage.
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