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Little Ram Fans Cheer VCU WBB to 81-59 Win

Little Ram Fans Cheer VCU WBB to 81-59 Win

One week before Christmas the VCU Siegel Center was overrun with very young, very enthusiastic children with no chance of a Santa sighting. Instead students from Richmond elementary schools were treated to Rodney the Ram, Nutzy the Flying Squirrel, and the fuzzy green mascot from the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan.  What these kids were excited for was the chance to see the VCU women’s basketball team.  The Stu rocked with nearly 2.000 excited voices cheering on the Rams for Education Day.  Head Coach Beth O’Boyle loved the atmosphere, “It’s so exciting for our players to play in front of a crowd like that and hopefully it was a special day for all of the elementary schools.”  Isis Thorpe, the leading scorer of the game with 22 points, echoed O’Boyle’s sentiment.  “It was lovely…I really was tired and when you see these kids and they were yelling it really got me amped to want to play and got me energized a little bit so that was a great motivation.”

The High Point University Panthers came into the game with some impressive statistics from key players.  Kaylah Keys had 4 games this season with over 20 points and averages 17.1 PPG.  Their second highest scorer Stacia Robertson is disruptive on both ends of the court averaging 15.6 points, 3.38 steals, and 3.63 blocks per game.  HPU came into the game with 72.7 PPG average and shooting at 43.7%, making them solid competition for the Rams.

VCU has been on a steep learning curve with a completely new style of play and intense travel schedule this season, but have maintained the home court streak adding their 8th win today.  Isis Thorpe described the difference between her freshman and sophomore years and her success today. “Last year I just came off the screens and just shot the ball.  This year it’s more of you are creating your own play.  What’s been really hard for me was being consistent in analyzing the floor, taking good shots, and just reading the defense.  It worked out today though.”

The most popular questions this year have been about the loss of VCU’s go to shooter from last season.  Robyn Parks averaged 19.2 PPG and so far no single player is averaging double digits.  Thorpe said she would like to be a go to player but not in a way that would leave her team out. This new style of play is less about a coach structuring plays and telling the players where to go and what to do and more about the team responding to things in the moment, being able to make decisions and create their own plays.  Thorpe added, “I feel like everybody can score.  Everybody knows their position and role and everybody is comfortable with shooting so anybody can step up at any time. I think that’s what’s going to be hard for other teams to figure out who’s going to show up.”  Today was a great example of that as she added 22 points and 7 rebounds to help her team secure the win.

The first half was full of back and forth between the teams as they battled for control.  There were 6 ties and 8 lead changes in the first 20 minutes of play with the Rams in the lead at the half 37 to 29.  Both teams were aggressive and got after the ball and it could have continued in the second half but VCU stepped up their defense on the key HPU players and it was a much different game.  The real game changer came at the free throw line.  In the first half HPU made 6 of 12 opportunities at the charity stripe and VCU made 9 of 10.  According to Coach O’Boyle, “Foul shooting wins games and the last two games we’ve done a really good job from the line and that’s really made a big difference.”  In the second half the Panthers only had 2 opportunities for free throws and ended at 8 of 14, while VCU would go to the line an additional 25 times and end with 30 of 35 with 85.7% efficiency.

The Rams did great work defending the top scorers for the Panthers.  Keys added 6 points while Robertson added 14 and even though the team has very strong players and the score came within 1 point briefly, VCU kept the pressure high, the tempo up, and was able to extend their lead and close out the win 81 to 59.  Thorpe summed up the game nicely, “I want my teammates to score.  I want them to get good shots and they want the same for me and that’s when we click.  When we’re all about ourselves there’s times when we’re shooting crazy shots.  We look like individuals…it’s not a good day for us.  We know what we’ve got to do, and today it just flowed so perfectly and I was really proud of my team.”

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A founding member of 400 North Media LLC, Pamela was the original editor and primary contributor for when it launched. She currently serves as communications liaison, videographer, and ad hoc contributor. During the day Pamela is a learning consultant for a Fortune 500 company. She's also an avid volunteer who works with several non-profits in Richmond and beyond.

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