RICHMOND, Va. – If Beth Cunningham has cracked the code on Old Dominion, she’s not telling. But after VCU’s thorough beating of the Lady Monarchs, 74-53, Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena, it was clear that this once lobsided series had entered a new phase.
The Rams (15-9, 10-4 CAA) capitalized on 15 ODU turnovers to build a 10-point halftime lead and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way. The victory gives VCU it’s first regular season sweep of the Lady Monarchs (17-8, 11-3 CAA) since the 1972-73 season. The Rams are just the second team in CAA history to sweep ODU in the regular season, matching James Madison’s 2008-09 squad.
After decades of ODU dominance in the series, VCU has managed to turn the tide. The Rams have won four of five from the Lady Monarchs. Additionally, VCU’s last two losses to ODU have come by a total of three points. It’s VCU’s largest margin of victory in the series since the 1972-73 season.
ODU’s shadow over the CAA is huge. The Lady Monarchs once won 17 straight league titles. So, if the Rams have discovered the formula for beating Old Dominion, they could probably make a mint if they could bottle and sell it.
It’s a win that also earned the Black and Gold some breathing room on Delaware for one of the Colonial Athletic Association’s top four seeds for the conference tournament. VCU’s win, coupled withe Blue Hens’ loss to George Mason on Thursday, gives the Rams a two-game lead on Delaware with four league games to play. The Rams and Blue Hens meet Feb. 24 in Newark, Del.
Under the direction of Wendy Larry, Old Dominion has traditionally fielded deep, athletic squads. But on Thursday, VCU made the Lady Monarchs look stunningly ordinary.
Playing in front of a season-high “Pink Out” crowd of more than 1,300, the Rams looked energized.VCU won nearly every “hustle stat”, pounding ODU on the glass, 49-34, while forcing 21 turnovers. VCU had 21 offensive rebounds and outscored the Lady Monarchs, 21-8 on second-chance points.
Junior star Courtney Hurt lived up to her billing, delivering 27 points and 19 rebounds for her 20th double-double of the season. The Rams also recieved outstanding complimentary performances from juniors Andrea Barbour (17 points, 5 rebounds) and Jennifer Lane (9 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds).
- You know what the scary thing is about the CAA this year? The scary thing is that Courtney Hurt, who is averaging 23.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game this season, might be considered by some as the third-best player in this league behind Dawn Evans and Elena Delle Donne.
- VCU is really, really good when it gets solid contributions from players like Jennifer Lane, Chelsea Snyder, Robyn Parks and Jacqueline Brewer, as it did last night. Hurt is going to put up numbers, but if the Rams can rebound, defend and hit a couple of key buckets around her, they can be very, very good.
- Eric Maynor, VCU grad and current member of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, was at the game Thursday. Maynor spent much of the game signing autographs and taking photos with fans. He left with about five minutes in the game and the Rams ahead by a comfortable margin.
- If you need any further proof that every game counts, VCU’s inexplicable loss to Towson earlier this year continues to haunt them. The Rams are currently fourth in the CAA at 10-4, behind 11-3 UNC Wilmington and 11-3 ODU, as well as 13-1 James Madison. If the Rams had beaten Towson, they’d be second, since VCU owns tiebreakers with both the Lady Monarchs and the Seahawks. Towson slipped to 2-12 in CAA action on Thursday.