December 5, 2009
RAMS TRIPPED UP BY WILLIAM & MARY IN CAA OPENER, 75-74
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – For the second straight game, the Virginia Commonwealth University men’s basketball team had a last second-shot decide the outcome.
For the second straight game, that shot didn’t fall in, only this time the Rams were the ones that needed the shot to fall as a three-pointer from the right wing by junior Ed Nixon (St. Petersburg, Fla.) was just off the mark as the Black & Gold fell to the Tribe of William & Mary, 75-74, in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both schools.
“I was proud of the way our guys executed several plays down the stretch,” Head Coach Shaka Smart said. “I’ll take that look from Ed Nixon 100 times out of 100, but unfortunately it just didn’t fall.”
Nixon posted a second straight career-high with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while classmate Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) added his third consecutive double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The first half was all Rams as Nixon and senior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.) combined for 19 points and 5-for-5 from long range to hold a decisive 40-27 advantage. VCU shot a blistering 53.3% from beyond the arc and 56.0% from the field, while the Tribe struggled, going just 4-of-12 from three-point range.
It was the exact opposite in the second half as William & Mary used back door cuts and excellent long range shooting to chip away at the lead and eventually take a four-point lead, 73-69, with 0:37 left.
“I thought we lost a little bit of our discipline in the second half and that opened up some of the back door cuts, which ultimately ended up being the difference,” Smart added. “Give William & Mary a lot of the credit, they are tough to defend because you want to pressure the outside shot because they are so good from out there, but on the other hand, you don’t want to give up the backdoor cuts.”
Nixon knocked down two free throws to cut the lead to 73-71 and Sean McCurdy missed the front end of two free-throws to keep the lead at only one possession.
As he had all day, Nixon made a huge play when he drove the lane for a dunk and a foul and evened the score at 74-74 with just over 10 seconds remaining.
David Schneider, the Tribe’s leading scorer, was trapped along the far side, but a foul on sophomore Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) was called and Schneider knocked down one of his two free throws to give the Tribe a 75-74 lead with 3.1 seconds left.
A long inbounds pass from Gwynn was caught by Sanders, who dished to Nixon on the right wing for his last second attempt, but it hit the back of the rim and gave William & Mary their fifth straight victory.
Junior point guard Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) added 12 points and four assists, while Gwynn finished with 11 points on the afternoon.
Schneider tied Nixon with 18 points, and added seven rebounds and three assists for the Tribe. Quinn McDowell, the recipient of many of those back door cuts, finished with 16 points, while Sean McCurdy chipped in 15.
The Rams will take the week to prepare for cross-town rival, the University of Richmond, as they host the Spiders in the Farm Bureau Insurance Black & Blue Classic next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“It certainly would have been a better week off if that shot would have gone in, but we’ll take the week to really focus on a very good Richmond team and work a lot on staying disciplined on the defensive end of the court,” Smart said.