VCU’s victory on Saturday afternoon put the Rams on the bubble and extended the Ram’s win streak–the longest since 1985. More importantly, VCU swept bitter arch-rival ODU for the first time since 2004.
The more games Virginia Commonwealth University wins, the higher the stakes climb as the Rams continue to chase the CAA regular season title, the CAA tournament championship, and an NCAA berth. VCU has won a lot of games, and the stakes haven’t been higher than they were on Saturday when the Rams beat the Monarchs of Old Dominion University 68-64 in Norfolk.
The second part of conference rivalries are always more intense, and despite ODU’s best attempt, VCU picked up is first season sweep since 2004 in an emotionally charged physical battle.
Relive the game through the magic of Twitter! Follow the tweets and pictures from during VCU’s win over ODU.
In the first half the Rams struggled with careless turnovers, and the Monarchs grabbed several steals as ODU built their largest lead of the game at 12 points with 7:22 remaining. VCU responded with a 10-0 run in just fifty seconds. In only a 17-second span, Bradford Burgess grabbed a steal and drained a three, and Troy Daniels grabbed a steal and drained a three. Despite the run, VCU trailed 36-33 at halftime.
The second half will undoubtedly be remembered as an instant classic in the VCU-ODU rivalry. It took ODU more than 11 minutes to score a basket, and during that period the Monarchs only scored two points. When the Monarchs finally got a “basket” to drop, it was on a goal tending call. Meanwhile, the Rams had their own offensive struggles and were unable to extend the lead to more than eight points.
By forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive boards, the Monarchs retook the lead with 2:31 remaining. Just as things started to get out of hand, Darius Theus drained a “Joey Rodriguez style” face up three pointer–shots that clutch don’t happen on accident. Still ODU pounded back and retook the lead 61-58 with only a minute left on the clock. With 52 seconds remaining Bradford Burgess drained a three pointer to tie the game at 61-61. Darius Theus immediately stole the ball and laid it up while drawing contact for the and one.
Still, ODU wouldn’t give up.
With six seconds remaining, Briante Weber went to the free-throw line with an opportunity to extend the lead to two possessions. ODU Coach Blaine Taylor called a timeout to try and ice the freshman from Chesapeake. With all the confidence in the world, the nineteen year old drained both free-throws.
At times it was beautiful, at times it was ugly. Saturday was the epitome of this rivalry, and win or lose both teams benefited.
Player of the Game: Bradford Burgess
Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore beat out “Big Shot” Brad for CAA preseason play of the year, but Burgess got the better of Bazemore Saturday:
- Burgess 24PTS (6-12 shooting, 5-9 3PFG), 6REB, 5STL)
- Bazemore 14PTS, (5-18 shooting, 0-4 3PFG), 8 REB, 4STL)
Despite having the best best +/- season of his career, Burgess has performed worse than expected on offense. After his last two games it is safe to say Burgess has found his shot, and he is peaking at the right time. In the past two games Burgess has dropped 46 points on 14-27 shooting–including 11-20 (55%) from 3-point range. Every time the Rams needed momentum on Saturday, Burgess stole the ball or drained a key three. Burgess is back and, hopefully, he is here to stay.
Eric Maynor and Joey Rodriguez will always be remembered as two of the greatest point guards in VCU history, but a new name is quickly working its way onto that list. Darius Theus has a remarkable ability to finish in the lane that is vaguely reminiscent of Eric Maynor, and his forced clutch three-pointer on Saturday was a total Joey Rodriguez move. One thing is for sure, when Theus sat down with four fouls the Rams looked extremely uncomfortable without his leadership on the court.
- The last time VCU won 11 straight games was the during 1984-1985 season.
- In the past two games Bradford Burgess has hit eleven three-pointers; a feat he has never before accomplished in his career.
- Old Dominion picked up 2 technical fouls Saturday giving the Rams four free-throws which easily could have been the difference in the game.
- The Monarchs shot 56% in the first half and 22% in the second half.
- Bradford Burgess’ has scored 1,551 career points. Saturday he passed Gerald Henderson, Nick George and Monty Knight to move into 8th place all-time at VCU. Monty Knight is 7th on the list with 1,586 points.
The Rams look to make it twelve consecutive Ws as they travel to George Mason on Tuesday.
- Tuesday February 14th. 9pm. George Mason (21-6, 13-2). Patriot Center.
What is the ceiling?
With four regular season games, potentially three CAA tournament games, and an NCAA, NIT or CBI berth after that, the Rams still have plenty of basketball remaining.
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- Instant recap: VCU vs. ODU
- What to expect: VCU looks to win 11th straight against arch-rival ODU
- “Rockstar” Rams romp ODU
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