January 20, 2010
RAMS GET REVENGE ON WILLIAM & MARY WITH 81-59 ROUT
RICHMOND, Va. – Less than 10 minutes after an 82-69 win last Saturday at Georgia State, junior Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) called the upcoming week, “Payback Week.”
Rozzell and his Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball teammates got their first dose of payback with an 81-59 rout of the Tribe of William & Mary in a key Colonial Athletic Association contest in a sold-out Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our guys tonight,” Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “The first time we played William & Mary, we only played one great half of defense. I challenged our guys to buckle up for the second half tonight and we did exactly that.”
A trio of juniors led by Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) and Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) (left), along with Rozzell, combined for 51 points on 18-of-28 shooting to lead an explosive attack. Rodriguez registered 10 assists for his first career double-double.
“Coach Smart has really challenged us all to step up our leadership role and that’s what I’m doing,” Rodriguez said. “We know that if we execute how we’re supposed to, we can pretty much play with anyone.”
Behind six points from Sanders, the Rams jumped out to an early 15-4 advantage, before the Tribe clawed their way back into it with Danny Sumner hitting a three-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half to send VCU to the intermission with a 31-26 advantage.
William & Mary cut the lead to two early in the second half, but after a timeout by Smart, sophomore Terrance Saintil (North Miami, Fla.) (right) came off the bench to provide a huge spark and ignite a 16-5 run that gave VCU a 15-point advantage at 51-36 with 11:11 left in the contest.
“I really thought Terrance was a difference maker tonight,” Smart said. “He had three huge steals and caused a lot of problems for them at the top of the key defensively. Again, it shows you how night-in and night-out any guy on this team can step up and be a force.”
The lead would continue to grow as Rozzell and sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) combined for three treys over the final 10 minutes, and VCU went a perfect 8-for-8 at the charity stripe down the stretch to clinch the 22-point victory.
“There’s always stuff to nitpick at, but overall I thought tonight was probably the best we’ve executed our game plan all year,” Smart said.
Rodriguez was outstanding at point for the Black & Gold with 18 points, 10 assists, two rebounds and two steals. Sanders finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Rozzell added 15 points on the evening.
Sumner led all scorers with 20 points, while Marcus Kitts notched a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Tribe.
The Rams will be seeking the second-part of “Payback Week” when they travel to Boston, Mass. to take on the Huskies of Northeastern in a 2 p.m. televised contest.