January 2, 2010
DEFENSIVE-MINDED RAMS ROUT UNC WILMINGTON, 91-57
RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team waited a day before beginning their 2010 calendar year with a bang.
In its first Colonial Athletic Association game at home, the Rams routed UNC Wilmington to the tune of 91-57 on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a smothering defense that forced 28 Seahawk turnovers.
“I thought today was by far our best effort for 40 minutes,” Head Coach Shaka Smart (left) said. “I thought our guys had a lot of motivation coming into this game and it showed on both ends of the court. Coming off the East Carolina game, we really wanted to focus on the defensive end and I think our guys did a tremendous job of that today.”
All 14 players on the VCU roster showed up in the scoring column with juniors Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) and Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) leading the way with 16 and 11 points respectively.
“To have a team that I feel like pretty much every guy is very close to being in our regular rotation is definitely a weapon for us,” Smart said. “In our style of play, to be able to run 12-13 guys off the bench could prove to be a huge advantage for us, later down the road.”
From the opening tip, the Rams controlled the pace of play as a three-pointer by Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) capped off a 10-0 run to start the game. VCU’s defense held the Seahawks to just two field goals for the first 16:30 of the contest.
Junior Jamie Skeen (Charlotte, N.C.) (right) chipped in five points and six rebounds off the bench in the first half to help the Black & Gold hold a decisive 43-17 lead heading into halftime.
Halftime did not help the Seahawks any with VCU forcing three quick turnovers to spur a 12-0 run to start the second half that was capped off by a drive-and-dish from Rodriguez to senior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.) who laid in a bucket that gave the Rams a 55-17 lead with 16:52 to play.
Freshman Troy Daniels (Roanoke, Va.) connected on a three point from the left wing to give the Black & Gold it’s largest lead at 46, 77-31, with just under 10 minutes to play.
All-CAA guard Chad Tomko would try to get UNC Wilmington going with six straight points, but it was to no avail as the Seahawks would get no closer than 34 points the rest of the way.
“You have to give VCU all the credit,” Seahawk Head Coach Benny Moss said. “They dominated us in every facet of the game today. I don’t know who that team was out there today and that has to be credited to the style of play that they forced us into.”
Sanders finished with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, two rebounds and five blocked shots in just 19 minutes of action. Rodriguez was 4-of-6 from the field for 11 points and added five assists and two steals on the afternoon.
Sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) led the way on the glass with 10 rebounds to go along with his eight points and three steals. Skeen, who was in just his third game with the Black & Gold, finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Tomko led the way for UNC Wilmington with 14 points, while John Fields added 10 points and nine rebounds down low for the Seahawks.
The Rams will not have much down time as they have just one day off before the Huskies of Northeastern come to the Siegel Center for a 7 p.m. contest on Monday night. Al Koken and Cal Bowdler will have the call on Comcast SportsNet.