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VCU's stifling defense shuts down Richmond

While VCU rested yesterday waiting for their opponent, Richmond battled hard to make it to the next game. It was very evident in the low shooting percentages for the Spiders, their legs had been used heavily in previous game. For VCU, they were able to rely on their defense to create easier scoring chances to pull away from Richmond.

Photo by Eddie Johnson

Richmond, VA -- Hard-nosed defense is the theme at halftime of today's second match-up in the Atlantic-10 Tournament, as VCU's top-ranked defense helped the Rams take a 29-22 lead into the locker room with two periods to play. The Spiders are no slouch on that end of the game either, having the fourth-ranked scoring defense in the conference during the regular season.

Both teams showed off their true colors in the first period, holding each other to 25% shooting. Richmond played almost mistake free basketball during the quarter, with only one turnover. But aggressive defense on both sides kept the score a low 11-9 in Richmond's favor.

The second quarter, however, saw VCU erupt for 20 points, led by 12 from Curteeona Brelove. Brelove has also been a beast on the boards, with a 12-10 double-double at halftime. In fact, the Rams as a whole have been in control of the boards; their 11 rebound advantage has helped them stretch the lead. Their seven offensive rebounds have helped them secure eight-second chance points, and in a close game like this one, that could be all the difference.

The Spiders are shooting a serviceable 30% from three, but VCU's 22 points in the paint are doing a lot more damage. If Richmond's poor shooting continues, they may need to adjust their strategy in the second half to account for VCU's interior dominance.

Richmond's seven-point deficit at halftime was due to two things: a poor showing from the field, and being shut down in the rebounding department. Unfortunately for the Spiders, VCU's forwards had no plans to relent their control of the boards, and after an 18% shooting performance by the Spiders in the third, the fourth period was all academic.

After winning last night's game against Davidson by 19, the Spiders dropped their second game of the tournament to VCU 62-42, ending their season.

After scoring a career-high 33 points in yesterday's win, sophomore guard Micaela Parson was held to 4-18 shooting by VCU's stifling defense. Undoubtedly tired after playing another game 23 hours earlier, Richmond just didn't have enough left in the tank to take down the Rams. VCU led in nearly every hustle stat, with advantages in fast break points, second chance points, and points in the paint.

There was simply no answer for VCU's interior game. The Rams out-rebounded Richmond 52-31. Starting forwards Jessica Ogunnorin and Brelove combined for 26 rebounds alone, and their post play helped the Rams to 15 free points from the charity stripe. VCU scored as many points from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter (6) as Richmond did the whole game.

VCU's win pushes them to a quarterfinal match-up with St. Bonaventure tomorrow. Senior guard Adaeze Alaeze left today's game with 12 points, putting her one point shy of 1,000 in her career. VCU's top-ranked defense will meet a team cut from a similar cloth, as St. Bonaventure ranks just behind them in scoring defense, a mere 0.1 points back.