TRIBE 61, VCU 75
The College of William and Mary fought for 40 minutes Thursday night, and, despite 19 points and 14 rebounds from junior center Tiffany Benson, the Tribe (10-9, 3-5 CAA) fell short against Virginia Commonwealth University 75-61.
“This is, like. the fifth loss in a row,” Benson said. “We’re trying to win. I’m not thinking about closeness. I’m thinking about winning — actually winning a game.”
The fact that the College is so close makes it all the more frustrating. With 7:46 remaining in the second half, junior guard Kelly Heath, who finished with 11 points, brought the Tribe within four — the closest margin in over 11 minutes.
But VCU’s 6’5” center Quanitra Hollingsworth answered, scoring eight of her 16 points in the remaining minutes to lead the Rams (16-4, 6-2 CAA) to victory. Forced to the bench with foul trouble in the first half, the Tribe had no answer for Hollingsworth inside in the second half, especially when Benson picked up her fourth foul at the 8:15 mark.
“We played really hard,” Benson said. “Just down the stretch ,our toughness went down the drain in terms of boxing out, and getting the defensive rebounds, and letting them crash the boards on the offensive end.”
The Tribe allowed VCU to corral 16 offensive rebounds, including one which Hollingsworth recovered after a missed free throw by La’Tavia Rorie with 1:07 left in the game. Her putback extended the Ram’s lead to 73-61. Against a VCU frontline, which averaged above 6 feet, the Tribe was fortunate to be out-rebounded only 43-37.
Despite its small size, the Tribe got to the free throw line, but only shot 56 percent from the charity stripe.
Benson’s development from the free throw line has accompanied her improving offensive game. She shook free of Hollingsworth for turn-around jumpers on a couple occasions Thursday.
“I’ve never really [done] that before,” Benson said. “This was the first game where I was making them consistently.”
Benson forced Hollingsworth into foul trouble in the first half, drawing the big center’s second foul at the 11:25 mark. With the smaller 6’2” Courtney Hunt guarding her, Benson tallied 14 points before the break and, along with freshman guard Janine Aldridge, who finished with eight points, cut the VCU lead to 31-25 at the half.
Senior forward finished Dani Kell 11 points and five rebounds.
The Tribe hosts Georgia State University (11-8, 3-5 CAA) Sunday at 2 p.m. at Kaplan Arena.