January 9, 2010
ROZZELL, REBOUNDING KEY RAMS’ 77-64 VICTORY OVER DELAWARE
RICHMOND, Va. – Rebounding and the hot-shooting of junior Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) (above) helped the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball to a 77-64 decision over the University of Delaware at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
The win snaps a brief two-game losing streak for the Black & Gold and improves its record to 10-4 overall and 2-3 in Colonial Athletic Association play, while the Fightin’ Blue Hens fall to 5-11 and 1-4 in conference.
“I’m really proud of all of our guys tonight for the way they battled, particularly in the second half,” Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “There is still a lot of room to grow as a team, but to see the way so many different players stepped up at various times tonight was fantastic.”
Rozzell led the way offensively with a career-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. He also added three steals and three assists in the contest.
“Brandon’s been one of our better scorers all year and today was no exception,” Smart said. “His ability to knock down shots helped us set up our press, which enabled us to really frustrate them offensively.”
With junior Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) suspended for the game, junior Jamie Skeen (Charlotte, N.C.) and sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) (right) stepped up their rebounding with both players posting a double-double. Burgess finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Skeen added season-highs of 11 points and 10 rebounds in his first start with the Rams.
“I really thought both of them had great energy and really were big for us in the second half,” Smart added. “Bradford was once again absolutely outstanding, his energy and the way he rebounded was great.”
The win was not easy though as Jawan Carter connected on back-to-back baskets and D.J. Boney knocked down a three from the corner as the Fightin’ Blue Hens jumped out to a quick 8-2 advantage.
VCU responded quickly with a 27-9 run, ignited by five three-pointers, two each from Rozzell and junior Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) to take its largest lead of the first half at 31-17 with 9:09 left before halftime.
Carter and Jamelle Hagins led Delaware on a 7-2 run to close out half and close within three of the Black & Gold, 41-38.
After the Fightin’ Blue Hens shot a scorching 52.0% from the field in the first 20 minutes, Smart challenged his team defensively and they responded by holding Delaware to just eight second-half field goals and out-rebounded the visitors by a tally of 29-18.
Skeen, Burgess and senior Kirill Pishchalnikov (Maykop, Russia) (left) combined for 19 second-half rebounds alone, compared to Delaware’s team total of just 18.
“Without Larry, I thought every one of our post players really challenged themselves to be better on the boards and they certainly were able to do that,” Smart said.
Carter led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while also dishing out four assists. Alphonso Dawson and Jamelle Hagins each added nine points for Delaware.
The Rams return to action on Tuesday evening, when they travel to Hempstead, N.Y. to take on the Pride of Hofstra University in a 7 p.m. contest. The game will be televised on ESPNU.