WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — Senior center Martha White poured in a career high 27 points and senior forward Treasure Johnson came up big in key moments down the stretch as UNCW maintained a share of first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with a hard-earned 68-64 women’s basketball victory over VCU in overtime on Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks pushed their record to 17-4 overall and 9-1 in the CAA after rallying from 13 points down early in the contest to avenge a 70-58 loss on Jan. 6 in Richmond. The Rams fell to 12-8 and 7-3 in the CAA.
White went 11-for-15 from the floor and added eight rebounds as UNCW set a school record with its eight consecutive conference triumph. Senior guard Brittany Blackwell added 15 points and 10 steals for Cynthia Cooper-Dyke’s surging club.
Junior guard Andrew Barbour led three VCU players in double digits with 17 points. Junior forward Courtney Hurt, the reigning CAA Player-of-the-Year and nation’s leading rebounder, finished with 14 points and seven boards. Junior guard Jennifer Lane also added 10 points for the Rams.
VCU shot better than 50 percent for the third consecutive game, making 52.9 percent of its shots, but the Seahawks forced 28 turnovers to rattle the Rams and pick up the needed win to keep pace with frontrunners James Madison and Old Dominion.
With the game hanging in the balance in regulation, VCU finally got some separation with 3:10 left on a pair of free throws by Hurt, but Blackwell sank a layup and White connected on both ends of a bonus situation to close the gap to 49-48. White then came up a steal, but the Rams got possession of the ball once again after a Seahawk miss.
Barbour increased the lead to 51-48 on two free throws with 12.6 seconds on the clock, but Andrews gathered in the inbounds pass, fed the ball to Treasure Johnson and the senior from Columbus, Ga., swished a long trey on the right wing to knot the score at 51-all with 4.8 seconds left.
The Rams still had an excellent chance to win it in regulation when Barbour raced down court and launched a jumper from the top of the key that hit the back of the iron and bounced away.
In overtime, it was a team effort as Johnson, White, Blackwell and freshman point guard Alisha Andrews helped the Seahawks dominate the extra period. The Seahawks outscored the Rams, 17-13, in OT as Johnson scored six points and Andrews collected five markers to push the team’s home record to 9-1 on the season.
Johnson wound up scoring all nine of her points in the final 5:05 of the game to key the thrilling come-from-behind win.
Trailing 33-22 at halftime after the Rams shot a sizzling 72.7 percent from the floor in the first half, the Seahawks started strong in the final period behind the play of White. Still behind 37-28, UNCW closed the gap to 37-34 with 13:55 remaining on a mid-range jumper by White and then sliced the deficit to 39-38 when White made the second of two free throws at 12:07.
After VCU responded with five unanswered points, Blackwell converted a layup and White banged in a jumper on the right elbow to narrow the deficit to 44-42 at 8:24.
The Rams went 16-for-22 from the field in the opening period to open up a big lead behind the play of Lane and Barbour. The tandem combined to score 17 points as Beth Cunningham’s squad caught fire from the floor.
VCU jumped out of the gate quickly and scored eight of the first 10 points for an early advantage. Hurt scored four points in the mini-run and Barbour’s jumper in the paint put the Rams on top, 8-2, at 17:12.
The Rams increased the margin to 17-10 after Daphne Adebayo connected on a short jumper on the right elbow with 12:33. VCU went a torrid 8-for-11 from the floor over the first eight minutes of the game.
VCU continued to have the hot hand late in the first half. Lane and Barbour, who combined for 17 points in the first 20 minutes, converted back-to-back baskets to extend the lead to 23-12 with just under nine minutes left in the first period.
The Seahawks open a three-game road trip on Saturday with a 1 p.m. contest at Georgia State. The Rams visit Boston on Saturday for a 2 p.m. clash with Northeastern at Solomon Court.