VCU 73, Saint Joseph's 69
RICHMOND, Va. -- Freshman guard Keira Robinson led five VCU players in double figure scoring with game-highs of 21 points and 10 assists and the Rams won for the 14th time in their last 15 outings with a 73-69 victory over defending Atlantic 10 champion Saint Joseph's Sunday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Senior Robyn Parks and freshman Monnazjea Finney-Smith (4-of-5 3FG) chipped in 12 points apiece, while freshman Isis Thorpe added 11 and senior Zakia Williams recorded 10.
VCU, which has already won four more games than all of last season, improves its best start in school history to 15-2. Those 15 victories are more than 23 different VCU programs have won during an entire season.
VCU's win over Saint Joseph's marked its second over a top-60 RPI squad in its last three games. The Hawks entered the Sunday's contest with the 10th highest RPI in the nation.
After Saint Joseph's took a 7-4 advantage on a layup by Ilze Gotfrida at the 17:06 mark, VCU erupted for a 16-3 run spanning four minutes to claim a 10-point advantage on a free throw from Thorpe.
Kelsey Berger cut the Hawks' deficit to nine on a 3-pointer just over a minute later before Williams and Finney-Smith scored on back-to-back possessions, which gave the Rams their largest lead, 29-15, with 12:00 to play in the opening stanza.
Saint Joseph's responded with six straight and nine of the next 11 points to pull within seven on another triple from Berger with 9:45 showing.
VCU pushed its lead to 10 twice over the next three minutes but the Hawks chipped away and cut their deficit to 40-37 with 1:55 remaining before Finney-Smith answered with her second trey of the game on the Rams' ensuing possession to push their lead to 43-37 at the break.
Saint Joseph's pulled within a point on three separate occasions during the first five minutes of the second half, and eventually took its first lead since 16:52 in the opening period, 48-47, at the 14-minute mark.
Finney-Smith came up big again with back-to-back 3-pointers and the Rams moved in front 57-56 with eight minutes to play.
Trailing by three with 6:00 left, the Hawks scored seven straight to grab their largest lead of the game, 63-59, on a pair of Gotfrida free throws.
However, Thorpe drained a trey from the right wing with 3:50 remaining to give VCU the lead for good. Saint Joseph's knotted the game at 69-69 with 2:39 showing but it was as close as it would get as Robinson's layup with 1:20 left iced it for the Rams.
Sarah Fairbanks had a team-high 14 points, while Ciara Andrews and Erin Shields each had 13 points. Berger was the fourth Hawk in double figures, adding 13 points, while classmate Ilze Gotfrida had a career-high 13 rebounds to go with four points.