January 6, 2010
RAMS DROP PHYSICAL BATTLE AT DREXEL, 75-72
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – It was no coincidence that the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team stayed less than two miles from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the infamous scene from Rocky was filmed.
Rocky may have been a good symbol of the Rams’ physical battle with the Dragons of Drexel University, and in the end it was Drexel who came out with the knockout punch to pick up a 75-72 victory.
“Both teams battled extremely hard tonight,” Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “I’m proud of the way our guys executed in a lot of ways, but in the end you cannot let a team knock down 10 three’s in their own gym and expect to win. Going forward, we have to find ways to improve in that area and many others.”
It’s the first time in four years the Rams (9-4, 1-3 CAA) have dropped two straight Colonial Athletic Association contests. It’s also only the second time VCU has lost a road game at Drexel (8-8, 3-1 CAA).
“It’s certainly not where we want to be,” Smart said. “But plenty of other of teams have been where we sit today and rebounded. That’s what we’re going to do. Get back to work tomorrow and start to re-make those steps in the right direction against Delaware on Saturday.”
Sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) had a career night with 30 points on 9-of-14 shooting, along with eight rebounds and three assists, while the sharp-shooting of Chris Fouch and Gerald Colds ultimately ended up being the difference with the Drexel guard duo combining for nine three-pointers and 19 points each.
It was a back-and-forth battle throughout with freshman Darius Theus (Portsmouth, Va.) (left) and Burgess sparking the Rams to an early 19-14 advantage at the 12 minute mark of the first half.
An offensive put-back and eight straight points from Fouch quickly turned the tide and gave Drexel a 26-19 lead with 9:09 left before halftime.
Junior Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) connected on a traditional three-point play and senior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.) knocked down an 18-foot jumper to regain the lead for VCU, but three straight three-pointers from three different Dragons gave Drexel a 42-36 halftime advantage.
The second half saw VCU continually climb close enough to make it a one-possession game, but the Dragons had an answer all night long.
With 4:21 remaining, Drexel held a 71-63 lead, before junior Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) (right) connected on a short-range jumper and Burgess tallied six straight points to bring the Rams within two with less than a minute to play.
A turnover by Drexel’s Jamie Harris gave VCU the ball with a chance to tie. Sanders drew a foul call and went to the line for two shots. He knocked down one-of-two, which forced the Rams to foul and send Colds to the line where he knocked down both and pushed the Dragons lead to three.
Junior Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) had a nice look from beyond the arc to tie the game, but the shot hit off the front of the rim and time expired before a rebound could be controlled.
“People may talk about how that free throw could have tied it, but ultimately there were plenty of other things that lost us this game tonight,” Rodriguez said. “For whatever reason, they were more hungry and physical then us. We can’t let that happen.”
Sanders finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Rozzell was the third Ram in double-figures with 10 points on the evening.
The Rams will return to CAA action on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Fightin’ Blue Hens of the University of Delaware in a 2 p.m. contest.