WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Sophomore guard Alisha Andrews banked in a runner off the glass with 18 seconds remaining to give UNCW a 57-56 comeback victory over VCU Thursday night in Colonial Athletic Association women's basketball action at Trask Coliseum.
The thrilling victory boosted the Seahawks' record to 10-7 on the year and 3-3 in the CAA. The Lady Rams fell to 11-6 and 4-2 in conference play.
Junior guards Jessica Freeman and Tawanna Lee both had 14 points to lead UNCW, which rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half.
Senior forward Courtney Hurt paced VCU with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while senior guard Andrea Barbour added 12.
Trailing by 10 points with 10:13 on the clock, UNCW reeled off 11 unanswered points to climb back into the game and set up the game-winner by Andrews.
VCU was clinging to a 56-55 edge with 32 seconds remaining after Chelsea McGowen scored on a putback and was fouled. McGowen missed the free throw, but Andrews recovered the loose ball in the middle of three VCU defenders. The Seahawks then called timeout with 26 ticks left on the clock.
Off the inbounds, Andrews drove down the right wing towards the paint and let a runner go from just outside the lane, banking the shot home to give UNCW the lead, 57-56. VCU then turned the ball over and Lee was fouled with five seconds remaining. Lee missed both free throw attempts, but the Rams failed to get a shot off before the final buzzer.
UNCW was down by five points, 56-51, with just over a minute remaining when Freeman stepped in front of a pass from Hurt, one of a game-high five steals the Charlotte, N.C., native had on the night. Freeman drove all the way to the basket for the lay-in, cutting the advantage to 56-53.
On the Seahawks' next possession, McGowen grabbed an errant three from Andrews, layed it in with the right hand and drew the foul. After McGowen missed the free throw, Andrews grabbed the loose ball and then made the eventual game-winning shot after the timeout, capping a 9-1 game-ending run.
The win was UNCW's second in three tries against VCU and earns revenge for the Seahawks' 65-53 loss to the Rams on Jan. 8, in which it was VCU who ended the game on a 14-2 run to take the win. UNCW has now claimed 5-of-7, including two-straight.
In the first half, sophomore guard Abria Trice, who finished with eight points, got UNCW on the board 40 seconds into the game with a trey from the left wing. VCU then held the Seahawks scoreless for 5:18, during which time the Rams rattled off an 8-0 run, capped by a step-back jumper from Hurt at the 14:48 mark.
UNCW ended the drought with five quick points off a Lee trey at 14:02 and two free throws from Freeman at 13:37.
VCU rebuilt its lead, however, stretching the advantage to nine, 24-15, on a lay-in from Barbour with 3:27 remaining in the frame.
Andrews sparked the Seahawks back to life with a trey at 2:59, a bucket which ignited a 10-2 UNCW run to close the opening half. Lee capped the run with a three pointer from the right wing with two seconds remaining, sending the Seahawks to the break down only one, 26-25.
Both squads return to action Sunday for 2 p.m. matinees. UNCW embarks on a three-game road trip at Old Dominion, while VCU concludes its three-game swing away from home against George Mason.
UNCW's win trimmed its deficit against VCU to
23-17 in the all-time series while improving to 12-6 versus the Rams at home.
The win was the second straight and third in four tries at home for UNCW against
the Richmond, Va., based school.
The one-point win was the smallest margin of victory
for UNCW in the all-time series against VCU. The previous closest UNCW decision
was four, set on two previous occasions, including last season's overtime
contest at Trask.
The Seahawks improved to 3-0 this season and 5-1
under Cooper-Dyke in games decided by three points or less.
UNCW reached double digits in steals for the sixth
straight contest and the 13th time this season. The 15 thefts represent the
second-high single-game steal total for the Seahawks this season.
UNCW's reserves held s 26-4 advantage over VCU's
bench. Junior Jessica Freeman accounted for more than half of the Seahawks'
bench point total (14).
The Seahawks improved to 4-7 this season and
7-13 under Cooper-Dyke when trailing by 10 points or more in a contest.
UNCW moved to 6-1 this season and 14-1 under
Cooper-Dyke when holding opponents to 59 points or fewer.
The Seahawks reached double-figure assists for
the second straight contest and the 16th time this season.
UNCW finished with 15 or fewer turnover for the
second straight contest and the sixth time this season.
The Seahawks were out-rebounded for the fifth
straight contest and the 13th time this season. UNCW's 15 defensive rebounds
were a season-low, eclipsing the previous mark of 18 set on two previous