February 16, 2010
SANDERS, BURGESS LEAD RAMS DEFENSIVE-MINDED 73-54 WIN OVER DREXEL
RICHMOND, Va. – According to Wikipedia.org, the Sandman is a mythical character in Western folklore that brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children while they sleep at night.
Junior Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) (above) took on that role on Tuesday night and made sure that the faithful followers of Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball are back to sleeping peacefully with a dominating performance in a 73-54 victory over the Dragons of Drexel University in a critical Colonial Athletic Association contest.
Sanders piled in 29 points on a near perfect 13-of-15 shooting, while grabbing 15 rebounds, blocking five shots and altering many, many more.
“Larry was phenomenal tonight,” Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “I told him after the game, when he comes with that type of approach and intensity, we’re going to be tough to beat. We’re a different team when he plays like he did tonight.”
Sanders wasn’t alone as sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) (left) registered his second double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds, as the Rams dominated the glass once again by holding a 45-26 rebounding edge on the Dragons.
The rebounding was just part of a masterful defensive performance, in which the Black & Gold held Drexel to just 36.2% from the field, forced 11 turnovers and disrupted any sort of rhythm that the Dragons had on the offensive side of the court.
“I’m really proud of the way our guys responded defensively,” Smart said. “We had a long meeting after we got back from James Madison, about an hour and a half, and we talked about really committing ourselves to the defensive end of the court. I certainly thought we did that tonight.”
Drexel came to play early as Evan Neisler connected on a lay-up with 14:25 showing on the first half clock to give the Dragons their largest lead of the night at 11-8.
Back-to-back three-pointers from junior Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) and freshman Darius Theus (Portsmouth, Va.), along with three straight buckets from Sanders, ignited a 12-4 VCU run that gave the Black & Gold the lead for good.
Rodriguez would strike again as his three-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half capped off an 11-2 run for the Rams to close out the half with a 33-21 advantage.
Two jumpers from beyond the arc from junior Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) (right) would keep the Black & Gold rolling in the second half as VCU’s lead would twice grow to 19 points mid-way through the second half and two dunks by Sanders from Rozzell late in the half pushed the lead past 20.
Rozzell would finish with nine points and three assists, while Rodriguez added eight points and seven assists.
Jamie Harris led Drexel with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting, while Shannon Givens came off the bench to chip in 12 points for the Dragons.
The Rams are now locked in a fifth-place tie with Drexel, but the Dragons have the tiebreaker due to their perfect 2-0 record against first-place Northeastern.
VCU will now focus on its final non-conference regular season game as it hosts the University of Akron in the ESPNU BracketBusters on Saturday. Tip time at the Verizon Wireless Arena is set for 4 p.m.