Alley-oops, dunks, and a win; senior nights don’t always work out this well.
It was an emotional evening as the Stuart C. Siegel Center said goodbye to seniors Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic, but Virginia Commonwealth University ran past St. Bonaventure 86-67 Saturday night.
Minutes after receiving a framed jersey at mid-court, Rob Brandenberg took the ball coast to coast and scored VCU’s first two points. Not long after, he hit back-to-back 3-pointers while scoring eight of VCU’s first nine points.
It took St. Bonaventure 4:20 to score their first points and their offense struggled early missing shot after shot. Matthew Wright, who finished with an impressive 21 points, was the spark early and the Bonnies scored 17 second-chance points on 16 offensive rebounds.
The Rams built up a 44-28 halftime cushion but St. Bonaventure showed resolve fighting back to a 60-54 deficit. VCU responded by kicking the offense into overdrive and outscoring St. Bonaventure 26-13 the rest of the way.
Treveon Graham finished with 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Rob Brandenberg finished with 18 points, and Juvonte Reddic, JeQuan Lewis, and Melvin Johnson all added double-figures.
Saturday was a night of significance. In addition to recognizing two of the winningest players in VCU history, the Siegel Center recorded its 50th consecutive sell-out and VCU finished perfect (15-0) at home for the first time since the 1970-71 season. The Rams haven’t lost in Richmond since 1/26/2013. The Siegel Center has undoubtedly been a fixture during these seniors’ four year careers:
I don’t even know where to start. You’ve got the band, the fans, the highlights; I remember being a freshman and seeing the home highlights the next day. There are so many memories that it’s tough to choose one.
If I had to choose one, I’d definitely say the fans. When I’ve seen them come out to a game when there was a snow storm – no school, the roads are terrible – and still pack the house. That’s when I took a chance to really appreciate that. It’s not like that at a lot of schools and we’re very fortunate.Rob Brandenberg
Thanks to their relentless defense of the 3-point line and ability to force turnovers, VCU currently ranks 4th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. Only Arizona, Ohio State, and Virginia are ranked higher. While not always perfect, VCU’s defense is their calling card this season, but the Rams’ post season success will likely be decided by their offense.
Saturday was a confidence boosting night for the Rams heading into Brooklyn where VCU will hopefully have three very tough games. Usually their key weakness, VCU hit shots at an incredible clip finishing 20-of-31 from 2-point range and 9-of-26 from 3-point range. After going 4-of-23 over a four game stretch, Graham is 6-of-7 from beyond the arc in his previous two games.
The only thing keeping VCU under the century mark on Saturday was their 16 turnovers. Do not fear. Briante Weber went to the bench early with two fouls and was limited to 20 minutes. Despite Weber not picking up any more fouls, JeQuan Lewis earned plenty of run finishing with 14 points (2-3 2PFG, 1-2 3PFG, 7-7 FTs), 3 assists, 4 turnovers, and 5 steals.
Coach Smart has spent time developing the Rams’ depth which always serves them well in tournaments with quick turnarounds. Expect to see plenty of Lewis, Jarred Guest, Mo Alie-Cox, and Doug Brooks starting Friday. If the Rams can maintain their defense and at least replicate some of Saturday’s offense, their ceiling in Brooklyn will be very high.
Top performer: The Seniors
Rob Brandenberg: 18 points (5-5 2PFG, 2-5 3PFG), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 1 block, 2 steals
Juvonte Reddic: 13 points (5-8 2PFG), 14 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 block, 4 steals
Senior nights don’t always work out quite so well. Look no further than 2/26/2011 when VCU lost 72-69 to JMU in the Siegel Center. Saturday, the Rams were dominant, and Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic had memorable performances.
Rob Brandenberg was extremely efficient on offense and while VCU struggled getting the ball to Juvonte Reddic, he cleaned up the glass and found scoring opportunities for himself. #11’s highlight was his alley-oop dunk served up by Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic brought the Stu to its feet with a light-speed dunk and steal.
I don’t even know where to start. It’s been a great four years, especially at the Siegel Center. This is about the fans. This is about me and Juvonte just trying to play our best and lead our team to victory. We’ve done it a lot in the past four years. It’s kind of bitter sweet but at the same time we’ve got a lot of basketball left… If we can channel these emotions and really play through one another and us seniors lead the way, then hopefully we can make a deep postseason run in both tournaments.Rob Brandenberg
A lot of emotions out there on the court. Once coach took me out the last time, that’s when it really hit me. As soon as I sat down on the bench I started crying; tears of joy. Like Rob said, we’re not finished. We’ve still got some more games to win. Tonight was a very special night.Juvonte Reddic
- Brandenberg and Reddic finish their careers 54-6 (43-3 in the last three years) in the Siegel Center.
- Saturday’s win ties Brandenberg and Reddic with Bradford Burgess at #2 alltime at VCU with 108 wins. They need three more wins to tie Theus, Daniels, and Hinton at 111 wins.
- Jordan Burgess has just 5 points in his last 92 minutes of gameplay.
- 18 is the most steals by VCU since snatching 22 on 12/23/2013 against Virginia Tech.
- VCU is now .500 or better against every team in the Atlantic 10. They have winning records against every other other than St. Louis (3-3) and St. Bonaventure (2-2).
The Atlantic 10 Tournament opens Wednesday with the lone 12-13 battle between George Mason and Fordham. VCU has earned a double-bye and they will be either the 2 or 3 seed. The potential Friday opponents are Richmond/Duquesne and Massachusetts; Dayton/Rhode Island.
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