VCU slays Dragons and cuts down nets

The week preceding “Selection Sunday” will be far more relaxed for VCU than last year’s, after the Rams locked up an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by beating #1 Drexel 59-56 Monday night in Richmond, VA.

CAA-Finals-Front

The week preceding “Selection Sunday” will be far more relaxed for VCU than last year’s, after the Rams locked up an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by beating #1 Drexel 59-56 Monday night in Richmond, VA.

Recap

In a battle to dictate tempo, VCU won the first half. The Rams grabbed eight steals and forced 12 turnovers while speeding Drexel up and limiting their shooting to 27%. Outside of CAA Player of the Year runner-up Frantz Massenat, the Dragons shot a combined 3-18 for 11 points. Bradford Burgess and company did an excellent job limiting open looks for CAA freshman of the year Damion Lee and the prolific Drexel scorer turned the ball over 5 times.

Tweets from last night

Relive the game through the magic of Twitter! Follow the tweets and pictures from during VCU’s thriller over Drexel.

Entering the locker room, the Rams led the Dragons 35-19.

At the half, because of Drexel’s six man rotation, Samme Givens, Chris Fouch, Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee had played all twenty minutes. While they looked fatigued, the Dragons returned from the locker room and performed significantly better in the second half.

After the break, Drexel slammed on the brakes and turned the game into a rock fight. The Dragons limited VCU to only 24 points on 38% shooting and only one 3-pointer. Samme Givens grabbed 9 rebounds and Drexel out-rebounded VCU 21-10. Meanwhile Damion Lee and Chris Fouch caught fire by shooting a combined 6-9 from 3-point range in the second half.

Just like Sunday afternoon, the Rams watched a commanding double digit lead diminish into a close game down the stretch because of cold offense and inconsistent free-throw shooting. In the final 3:53, Rob Brandenberg went 0-3 from the free-throw line including missing two front-halves of one-and-ones, and with 1:56 remaining Drexel only trailed 54-50.

In the final nineteen seconds Troy Daniels drained 4 straight free-throws, surrounding a Chris Fouch 3-pointer, that cut the Ram’s lead to 1-point, to keep the game just out of reach of the Dragons. Frantz Massenat missed the game tying 3-pointer and Darius Theus rebounded the basketball to seal the 59-56 victory. In a weekend full of ups and downs for VCU, the Rams finally cut down the nets for the first time since 2009.

Only moments later, after hundreds of VCU fans had stormed the court and player awards had been presented Coach Shaka Smart yelled, “For the next six days everyone can relax. We’re in the tournament!”

Top Performer: Darius Theus

Shaka Smart’s first recruit Darius Theus earned the 2012 CAA Tournament MVP award. In a game that VCU struggled to find open looks from 3-point range, Theus was the answer inside the arc and in transition. Theus scored a career-high 16 points on 7-12 shooting while dishing out five assists, grabbing four rebounds, and picking up five steals. His development as a player has undoubtedly helped turn the 3-3 November Rams into a 28-6 winning machine.

Burgess & Brandenberg

In addition to Theus, senior Bradford Burgess and sophomore Rob Brandenberg earned all tournament honors. Brandenberg (38 points, 5 steals, 5 blocks) turned heads as he scored 16 second half points against Northeastern to push the Rams through the quarterfinals. Burgess (36 points) lived up to his name “Big Shot” as he dropped 20 points on George Mason in the semifinals on Sunday night while limiting CAA POY Ryan Pearson to only six points.

Records

  • Iron Man senior Bradford Burgess extended his NCAA record to 144 consecutive starts.
  • Thanks largely to the success of VCU, the CAA set a new tournament attendance record at 47,833. It was also the first time that three consecutive sessions sold-out.

5 stats

  • The Rams ended Drexel’s 19 game winning-streak (2nd nationally behind #1 Kentucky).
  • 6’-5” Samme Givens grabbed 15 rebounds and 6’-6” Damion Lee grabbed 10 rebounds for Drexel while 7’ D.J. Haley only grabbed three rebounds and 6’-9” Juvonte Reddic only grabbed three rebounds for VCU.
  • Drexel’s thee guards (Lee, Massenat, and Fouch) scored 87.5% (49-56) of the Dragon’s points.
  • Freshman Treveon Graham finished the tournament with 43 points on 55.5% shooting.
  • The Rams and Dragons are set up for future success. The Rams boast the 9th youngest lineup in Division 1 basketball and the Dragons the 10th.

Looking forward

The Rams will continue to practice this week as they wait for their seeding and matchup in the NCAA tournament. The selections will be announced at 6 p.m. on Sunday March 11th.

The Rams will most likely play at one of the following eight locations:

Thursday and Saturday, March 15 and 17

  • The Pit, Albuquerque, NM
  • KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
  • Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rose Garden, Portland, OR

Friday and Sunday, March 16 and 18

  • Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
  • Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
  • Bridgestone Center, Nashville, TN
  • Qwest Center, Omaha, NE

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Related

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To stay up to date on all things VCU Basketball related, follow @rvaRAMnews on twitter or facebook.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

1 comment on VCU slays Dragons and cuts down nets

  1. What a great game that was last night. I don’t have any finger nails left and my blood pressure is through the roof but thats how it’s been all season. CAA Champs!!!

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