- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

This has not been a season to remember for Virginia Commonwealth’s women’s basketball team. Last night the Rams earned an opportunity to change that.

Eighth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth — relegated to a play-in game for the first time since it joined the Colonial Athletic Association in 1995 — topped No. 9 UNC Wilmington 53-40 at Patriot Center. The Rams (11-17) will face top-seeded Delaware today at noon in the first of four CAA tournament quarterfinals.

“They have four seniors, and they really played like they didn’t want this to be their last day,” UNC Wilmington coach Ann Hancock said

Lauren Hogan led the Rams with 14 points and nine rebounds, just missing her 13th double-double of the season.

The Seahawks (8-20) trailed by seven at halftime but closed the deficit to 33-31 early in the second half. Hogan responded with a pair of field goals that ignited a 15-2 Rams spurt. Virginia Commonwealth’s Brittany Pinkney scored all six of her points during the critical run.

UNC Wilmington did not make a field goal for a whopping 11 minutes and 11 seconds in the second half.

“Our outside shots weren’t falling tonight,” Seahawk point guard Meg Withrow said. “They packed that zone in there and they have that 6-foot-8 girl [Kristina Cesnaviciute] in there. It was tough to penetrate.”

CAA Freshman of the Year Meagan Samis paced the Seahawks with 11 points, but eight of them came early in the first half and she struggled with foul trouble. Samis had little help in the first 20 minutes. She shot 4-for-6 from the field in the first half, but the rest of the Seahawks were a combined 2-for-20.

Virginia Commonwealth alternated between man-to-man and multiple zone defenses, and UNC Wilmington made only two of 15 3-point field goal attempts.

The Seahawks had defeated the Rams in Wilmington, N.C., last Thursday, and the loss was still in the minds of the Rams.

“I felt like it was something that really motivated our kids,” Virginia Commonwealth coach Beth Cunningham said. “We talked about it before the game about how we’ve been preparing for this game for two weeks, with preparing for the game last week and the tournament.”

The Rams dominated the glass, especially at the offensive end. Virginia Commonwealth grabbed 28 offensive rebounds and finished with a 55-42 overall advantage.

Its next opponent, top-seeded Delaware, has only two conference losses, but one of them was to the Rams.

In the late game, seventh-seeded Hofstra defeated No. 10 William & Mary 68-52. The Tribe (4-24) actually led 27-26 at halftime and scored the first basket of the second half, but the Pride (13-15) ripped off 17 straight points to break the game open.

Lizanne Murphy led Hofstra with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Vanessa Gidden came off the bench and registered a double-double (10 points, 13 rebounds). The Pride outrebounded the Tribe 59-45.

Devin James led William & Mary with 20 points. The Tribe, playing with eight available players because of injuries, dropped its 14th straight game to finish the season. Hofstra ended a four-game losing streak of its own, and will face 13-time defending CAA tournament champion Old Dominion today in the quarterfinals.

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