Starting the second half on a 10-3 run, the University of Richmond women's basketball team was able to pull away from the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams on Sunday evening at the Robins Center. By playing solid defense throughout the game the Spiders were able to wait for their offense to catch up during the second half for the eventual 68-53 victory.
Sloppy play highlighted the first half, with both teams combining for 51 points on 19 of 66 shooting. The teams also combined for 13 turnovers as both teams' star players were shut down.
Richmond's leading scorer, senior guard Brittani Shells, was held to four points during the first half, while VCU's main scorer, Courtney Hunt, had nine points on 3 of 12 shooting. Shells finished with 13 points and Hunt ended with 24, much of which came in the final minutes of the game with the game out of reach.
"We wanted to do our very best to contain Hurt for them," Richmond coach Michael Shafer said. "She still had 24 points, but it took her 27 shots to do it, so I thought we did a great job contesting her shots and keeping her away from the basket so that we [could] rebound."
Picking up the slack offensively for the Spiders were senior center Crystal Goring and junior guard Abby Oliver. Oliver, Richmond's second leading scorer on the year, put up 22 points which included four 3-pointers. Goring finished with 14 points, eight of which came during the first half when the rest of teammates struggled to find the bottom of the net.
"In the first half, we weren't really playing offense together, so we were stagnant and just sort of standing around," Oliver said. "But in the second half, we did a better job of playing together and we got some open shots."
Richmond pushed its lead out to as much as 24 during the second half after taking a three point lead into halftime. Contributing to that fact were 12 points off turnover during the final period and six on fast breaks.
"I think running the floor for us helped us a lot more than just trying to play out of sets because we're a really good transition team," Goring said.
The 53 points allowed by the Spiders is the second lowest allowed thus far this season, as they had given up 65, 76, and 79 in their three previous games, all losses.
"[The defense] played a lot better," Shafer said. "Quite honestly, they had to. We weren't going to win many games giving up 73 points a game. Two to three years ago, we were top-20 in the country on defense. Last year, we were top-50. This year, we're 287th. That's a big discrepancy."
The win puts Richmond at 5-4 on the year as it prepares to next to host Old Dominion next Sunday. VCU now stands at 2-3, with a trip to Coppin State as its next game.
Oliver, Richmond's leading scorer for this game, also tied for the lead in rebounds with eight. ...Richmond has now won 11 of the last 12 games in this series. ... Senior guard Kara Powell led all players with five assists.
Contact reporter David Weissman at email@example.com
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