The final non-conference game of the season was a homecoming for former VCU Associate Head Coach Tarrell Robinson. Robinson has gone full circle with his alma mater. As a recruiter and associate head coach for the Aggies he helped to rebuild their women’s program before joining the staff at VCU. He returned to North Carolina A&T in 2012 to assume the head coach position after successfully holding the same 2 positions with the Rams. The Aggies’ roster also includes 2 former Rams. Both Christina Carter and Aprill McRae were members of the 2011-12 VCU team, transferred to NC A&T, and sat out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. After a year hiatus from eligibility McRae was able to experience the Stu on the opposite side of the home court advantage. Despite an increased vigor in the second half the Aggies couldn’t end the Rams current winning streak. Robinson has history in the program, but Head Coach Beth O’Boyle and the Rams proved who rules at the Siegel Center.
The Rams ended 2014 on an upward trajectory. The young roster has shown up fairly balanced overall with a variety of players contributing to the stat sheet. Unlike last year when the team relied heavily on one primary scorer, this year they’ve shown that different players can step up and contribute and from game to game that player or players may change. The Ram who caught fire early this game was Ashley Pegram. Pegram started the initial VCU run scoring the first 5 points of the game. She was averaging 9.5 points per game, but exceeded that in just the first half by contributing 11 of the Rams 27 points.
VCU also showed up strong defensively early keeping NC A&T to just 22.7% from the field and limiting McRae, the Aggies leading scorer (11.6 PPG), to just 2 points in the first half. Her teammate Debbie Smith contributed 7 points to help offset the setback but the impact wasn’t enough. Ashlee Mitchell added 3 steals to help the Rams disrupt the Aggies offense and despite coming out of their early scoring drought the visitors still trailed by 7 when the buzzer went off at the end of the half.
The Aggies came out aggressively at the start of the second half. They put buckets up early but the Rams answered back. There was a lot more contact as they tried to make a dent in the VCU lead. NC A&T was able to improve their scoring significantly in the second half (38.2%) and McRae was able to put up an additional 7 points. Smith, who averaged 8.4 PPG prior to the match led the Aggies with 15 and was the only player from NC A&T to hit double digits.
Pegram added an additional 8 points to lead the Rams with 19 overall. Isis Thorpe came in right behind her with another 18 points. Continuing the defensive domination was Melanie Royster who had 6 of the Rams 9 blocks in the contest. Four of them were in the latter half. Determined to continue their winning streak VCU led by as many as 16 in the second half. Despite their best efforts the Aggies were unable to catch up and the final score was 60 – 51.
This game marked the 5th consecutive win for VCU who enters conference play at 8 – 4 on the season.
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