SECOND HALF WOES SPELL DOOM FOR VCU AT WESTERN MICHIGAN
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) led Virginia Commonwealth University with 16 points, but a dreadful second half doomed the Rams in an 83-67 loss to Western Michigan Wednesday at University Arena.
Junior Brandon Rozzell (Richmond, Va.) added 12 points and sophomore Jay Gavin (Seat Pleasant, Mich.) (pictured, right) provided 10 for VCU (1-1). Martelle McLemore scored 22 points and hauled in nine rebounds to lead Western Michigan, while David Kool added 17.
The Rams held a 42-35 halftime lead, but shot just 26 percent (10-of-38) in the second half as the Broncos (1-1) outscored VCU, 48-25. In their stead, Western Michigan shot a blistering 61 percent (17-of-28) in the second half and 47 percent (27-of-58) for the game.
"We have a lot of work to do on the defensive end of the court and understanding our responsibilities in the press,” VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “Not making shots certainly hurts that, but we still have to be able to recover and make a cohesive effort to force turnovers and force bad shots."
Rams’ starting center Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.), a preseason All-CAA First Team selection, was plagued by foul trouble most of the evening and finished with seven points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.
Without the 6-11 Sanders on the floor, the Broncos capitalized down low. Western Michigan outrebounded VCU, 52-37, and scored 48 points in the paint, compared to the Rams’ 26.
"It really comes down to us making a complete team effort on the defensive end and rebounding,” Gavin said. “I look at the stat sheet and see we got outrebounded by 15. That can't happen. It's a team effort when it comes to rebounding and we have to do a better job with that."
VCU looked poised to run away with the contest in the first 10 minutes. The Black and Gold used an early 12-1 run and grabbed a 26-9 advantage with 11:40 to play before halftime.
WMU would not go easily with Nate Hutchenson coming off the bench to ignite a 13-4 Bronco run to get within seven at 30-23.
The teams traded baskets the rest of the half with the Rams taking a 42-35 lead into the intermission.
The Rams return home on Saturday evening for a televised (MASN) contest against 17th-ranked Oklahoma. Game time at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center is set for 7:30 p.m.