February 13, 2010
RAMS DROP SECOND STRAIGHT, FALL TO JAMES MADISON, 76-71
HARRISONBURG, Va. – Turnovers are usually very good things. Delicious pastries that can be filled with various fruit fillings and glazed with sweet icing.
In basketball, they are the exact opposite and the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team found that out the hard way on Saturday evening in a 76-71 loss at the hands of James Madison at the JMU Convocation Center.
“I’m very disappointed with tonight,” Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “Obviously there were X’s and O’s that we got beat on sometimes tonight, but what I’m really disappointed in is the fact that we got in the energy and effort categories tonight.”
22 turnovers and a 19-2 run by the Dukes to open the second half proved to be the devastating blows in the Black & Gold’s second straight loss, which dropped them to 17-7 on the year and 9-6 in conference play.
“This is a loss that will cause some deep soul searching from everyone in our single person involved with our program, starting with me,” Smart said. “We have a lot to think about and work on when we come to practice tomorrow.”
Junior Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) posted his ninth double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds, leading a scoring attack that had four players in double-figures. Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) added 14 points, four assists and four rebounds, while classmates Jamie Skeen (Charlotte, N.C.) and Ed Nixon (St. Petersburg, Fla.) each added 12 and 10 respectively.
The Rams would control much of the first half, except for big Denzel Bowles who scored 17 of the Dukes’ 33 first-half points.
With VCU down 14-11 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half, senior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.) ignited a 14-3 run with five points and the Black & Gold forced four turnovers in a four-minute span to grab an eight-point lead.
That lead would stay at eight heading into halftime as VCU held a 41-33 advantage.
It must have been one heck of a halftime speech by JMU Head Coach Matt Brady as the Dukes went 8-of-10 to start the second half and embarked on an 19-2 run that helped the home team grab a 52-43 lead.
VCU fought to get back into the game and even took the lead on a Sanders’ putback with just under four minutes to play, but two huge three-pointers from Darren White and Julius Wells were the nail in the Rams’ coffin.
The Black & Gold held a 19-board advantage, grabbing 45 rebounds, compared to JMU’s 26, led by Sanders’ 14 rebound effort.
Bowles led the way for James Madison with 21 points and three rebounds, while Wells got hot in the second half and finished with 20 points and four assists.
VCU will be back in action on Tuesday evening in a critical Colonial Athletic Association match-up with the Dragons of Drexel University. Tip-time is set for 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.