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VCU gets revenge on Pride in CAA quarterfinals

By Christian Heimall, Staff Writer

Last weekend, the Hofstra Pride women's basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament for the first time since the 2006-07 season with a 66-50 win over William and Mary in the Opening Round. The Tribe defeated Hofstra 63-62 in last year's first round contest. The Pride would however not advance past the quarterfinals, falling to VCU by a final of 38-51.

Five Hofstra players scored in double figures in the win, including freshman forward Shante Evans recorded a double double in her first tournament action with 11 points and 10 rebounds.  Evans played a majority of the second half in foul trouble, as did senior Jess Fuller and sophomore Marie Malone. Malone and Fuller also scored in double figures as Hofstra defeated the Tribe in CAA Tournament play for the fourth time in their last six meetings.

Hofstra led at the half by only three points at 25-22 but came out firing in the second half taking a ten point lead at 37-27 thanks to a Candice Bellochio three pointer with 17:20 left to go in regulation. The Tribe were able to cut the lead to as close to five with 11:20 left but the blue and gold were able to push the advantage back to double digits and not let go.

For the Tribe, CAA All-Rookie performer Emily Correal finished with a team high 11 points tying teammate sophomore Taysha Pye. Correal did however foul out with just less than five minutes to play. William and Mary also got 10 points and 9 rebounds from CAA All-Defensive player senior Tiffany Benson.

There was a scary moment for the Pride in the second half when starting point guard, sophomore Candice Bellocchio rolled her right ankle going for a rebound. Bellocchio's foot was heavily wrapped and the Staten Island native prepared to go back in the ball game but Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey held her out. Bellochio left the game on crutches with a bag of ice on the top of her foot.

"I didn't see exactly how it happened," said head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey after the game. "Just good thoughts, good thoughts."

Hofstra advanced to face the Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Pride defeated VCU in their only previous meeting this season in Hempstead by a final of 74-66, but fell 38-51 in the tournament. The 38 points was the lowest the Pride had scored since the 2001-02 season.

In that game the Pride ran into a stout Ram's defense that held the Pride to just 19 points in each half. Three players scored in double-figures for the Rams, led by CAA All-Second teamer Kita Waller with 18. Sophomore Courtney Hurt added 13 points for the Rams while Moss, the senior, rolled in 10 of her own.

It was not a pretty night shooting for either squad as the two teams combined for just 6 of 22 shooting from beyond the arc (0-11 in the second half). The Pride actually had a better field goal percentage than VCU in the game shooting 31.1 percent from the floor (14 of 45). The Rams shot 15 of 54 for the game, good enough for just fewer than 26 percent (25.9). Hofstra was able to win the rebounding battle as well 42-39 despite VCU grabbing 16 offensive boards.

VCU dominated in attempts from the free throw line making the trip 33 times, converting on 20 shots. Hofstra however could only get to the charity stripe 16 times, making 7 shots. Evans went 4 of 10 from the line before fouling out in the final minutes.

The Conference All-Rookie player still managed a double-double ending her evening with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Evans was the only Pride player in double-figures; next was Fuller with 8 points and 8 boards.

Sophomore point guard Candice Bellochio (10) against the University of Delaware. Bellocchio was injured in the Pride's quarterfinal matchup against William & Mary. (Sean M. Gates/ The Chronicle)

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