RICHMOND, Va. - Trailing by 10 with less than 11 minutes to play, the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team fought back for a 55-50 victory over VCU Wednesday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Speared on by junior guard Erin Shields' 16 points, the Hawks improved to 16-5 overall and 7-0 in the Atlantic 10.
Down 37-27, Saint Joseph's put together a 16-6 run as the Hawks took their first lead since the middle of the first half on a jumper by redshirt senior forward Chatilla van Grinsven at 5:08.
The Hawks opened a 51-47 lead on a layup by junior forward Ilze Gotfrida with less than two minutes to play, but VCU's Jessica Pellechio buried a three pointer to make it a 51-50 game with 1:03 to play.
Saint Joseph's failed to convert on its next possession, but a bad turnover gave the ball back to SJU. At midcourt, the Rams' Carleeda Green dropped off a bounce pass to Pellechio, only to have the ball bounce off Pellechio's knee and over the time line and give SJU the ball with less than 25 seconds in the game.
After three VCU fouls, Shields calmly hit both ends of a one-and-one, and after a steal on defense, sealed the game with two more free throws with 2.9 seconds left.
In a cold-shooting first half, the Hawks jumped out to a 15-9 edge, but a 10-1 run by the Rams gave host VCU a 19-16 lead on a layup by Melanie Royster at 5:16. Saint Joseph's, which shot just 27.3 percent in the half (6-of-22), fought back with four straight points as a pair of free throws by van Grinsven gave her team a 20-19 edge with 1:36 left in the half.
VCU, which caused 11 Hawk turnovers in the first half, would get a jumper by Adaeze Adebayo before the half as the Rams took a 21-20 lead into the second half.
Saint Joseph's continued to struggle entering the second half. The Rams held the Hawks to just seven points over the opening 10 minutes as VCU built up its biggest lead of the game.
For the contest, Saint Joseph's shot 36.4 percent (20-og-55), including 31.6 percent from three-point range (6-of-19) and 81.8 percent from the foul line (9-of-11). Despite turning the ball over 17 times, the Hawks caused 20 VCU turnovers at the other end and held the Rams to 36 percent shooting (18-of-50) and 12.5 percent from behind the arc (2-of-16).
Individually, van Grinsven was the only other Hawk in double figures, scoring 11 points to go with a team-best six rebounds and four assists.
Robyn Parks had a game-high 17 points for VCU.
Saint Joseph's returns to action this Sunday when the Hawks host Charlotte at 2 p.m.