VCU Wins 13th Straight, Posts Best Start in Program History With 71-68 Victory at Duquesne

FINAL: VCU 71, Duquesne 68 (Pittsburgh, Pa. – A.J. Palumbo Center) 

RECORDS: VCU (14-1, 2-0 A-10), Duquesne (9-6, 1-1 A-10)

VCU STARTERS: #22 Williams, #24 Parks, #31 Henry, #34 Robinson, #45 Thorpe

DUQUESNE STARTERS: #10 Agunbiade, #13 Szecsi, #15 Moore, #22 Bresnahan, #32 Robinson

THE BASICS:

  • Senior Robyn Parks scored 22 of her game-high 31 points in the second half and helped VCU post its best start in the program's 40-year history with a 71-68 come-from-behind victory at Duquesne Saturday night.
  • The Rams also extended their school-record winning streak to 13 games, while pushing their overall mark to 14-1 for the first time ever.
  • VCU, which used a 10-0 run near the eight-minute mark in the second half to regain the lead, countered a series of Duquesne rallies late in the game to collect its eighth road win of the year.
  • Freshman Keira Robinson added 13 points, six rebounds and six assists, while classmate Isis Thorpe chipped in 12 points.  Senior Zakia Williams registered six points, seven rebounds and two assists.
  • The Rams remain the only team in the Atlantic 10 with one loss.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • VCU held Duquesne to 1-of-7 shooting en route to an early six-point advantage less than five minutes in before a jumper from Williams and fast break layup by Robinson gave the Rams their largest lead, 12-5, with 13:52 showing.
  • Parks grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a basket inside to give VCU a 19-14 edge at the 9:56 mark but Duquesne continued to battle and eventually tied it up on a jumper by Wumi Agunbiade less than two minutes later.
  • Sophomore Jessica Pellechio again put the Rams in front with a triple from the left wing on their next possession.  However, the Dukes continued to rally and answered with a 14-3 run spanning six minutes to take their largest lead, 33-25, on a layup from Amadea Szamosi with 1:59 to go in the half.
  • Thorpe, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the opening stanza, then went 2-of-2 at the free throw line before Parks pulled the Rams within 33-29 on a drive to the basket with 1:14 to go.  VCU trailed by four at the break.
  • Thorpe buried a triple from the top of the arc on VCU's first possession of the second half, which made it a one-point game, but Duquesne responded with nine straight points to build its largest lead, 42-32, with 15:57 remaining.
  • The Rams, who trailed by 10 points on three occasions during the first seven minutes of the second half, kept their focus and battled back.  Trailing 60-51 with 8:37 to go, VCU scored 10 straight points, including eight from Parks, to claim its first lead since the seven-minute mark of the first half on a traditional 3-point play from Parks with 5:42 left.
  • Duquesne responded with baskets on consecutive possessions to regain the lead, 64-61, with 4:54 to play.  VCU made it a one-point game on three separate occasions, including when Parks stole a pass from April Robinson and converted a fast break layup with 1:15 remaining.  The Waldorf, Md., native again came up big on the Rams' next possession with an and-one to put the Black and Gold ahead 69-67 with 45 seconds left.
  • Belma Nurkic hit 1-of-2 at the line to pull the Dukes within 69-68 with 37.5 seconds to go.  Duquesne then fouled sophomore Melanie Royster, who hit two critical free throws and VCU went ahead 71-68 with 20 seconds remaining.  The Rams held strong on the Dukes' final possession, forcing a series of misses to preserve the win.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

  • VCU forced 20 turnovers for the 10th time in its last 12 outings (22 vs. Duquesne). 
  • Royster, who hit two clutch free throws late, grabbed five rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal.
  • Thorpe went 3-of-7 from 3-point range to push her team-leading total to 40.
  • Parks' season-high 31 points were three shy of her career high.  She shot 13-of-22 from the field, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line to go along with nine rebounds.

WHAT'S AHEAD: VCU travels to La Salle on Jan. 8 for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Explorers before returning to the Verizon Wireless arena against Saint Joseph's on Jan. 12, which will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m.

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