Here’s the scene: Just after 9 PM on Wednesday, Larry Sanders catches a final desperation shot from University of Delaware and raises his ridiculously long index finger, ridiculously high in the air, as the crowd at VCU’s Siegel Center erupts in a “We’re number 1” chant.
Here’s the scene: Just after 9 PM on Wednesday, Larry Sanders catches a final desperation shot from University of Delaware and raises his ridiculously long index finger, ridiculously high in the air, as the crowd at VCU’s Siegel Center erupts in a “We’re number 1” chant. The Rams (now 19-8, 12-4 CAA) had just put the final touches on a 78-67 victory over the (Blue) Hens (11-17, 5-11 CAA), while Georgia State surprised the scuffling Northeastern Huskies 70-68, to position VCU alone in first place atop the CAA with just two conference games remaining.
The game wasn’t decided until a stretch late in the second half when senior guard Eric Maynor took over and led the Rams to victory. With VCU trailing 53-51, Maynor scored ten straight points for the Rams, edging them to a 61-59 lead with 7:11 remaining in the game. Maynor ended the game with 30 points, 21 of which he scored after the break. (By way of comparison, Delaware as a team scored 29 after the break.) Exasperated (Blue) Hen coach Monte Ross summarized it well (if a bit obviously) after the game saying, “They have Eric Maynor and we don’t.” At least Coach Ross had a grasp on the two rosters by the end of the game.
When Maynor wasn’t scoring himself, he was dishing out assists (he ended with ten), mainly to Larry Sanders and the White Russian, both of whom scored double figures, thus atoning for less than stellar performances when the Rams and (Blue) Hens first met–a game Delaware won and a game in which both Sanders and Russian fouled out. In fact, were he not overshadowed by Maynor (again), Sanders could have been the story of the game. He was dominant at times, finishing with nineteen points, fifteen rebounds, and two blocks. It almost made me sorry for the stuff I wrote earlier in the year about Sanders and the Witness Protection Program. Almost.
Things looked good early for VCU as Maynor hit his first two shots (both three pointers) to spot the Rams to a 7-2 lead. You got the feeling right away that the night might be special for the senior point guard. And it turned out to be. It just took awhile to develop.
After Maynor’s quick threes, Delaware used two early spurts to build an eleven point first half lead. The (Blue) Hens shot an astounding (and uncharacteristic) 70% from the floor over the first twelve minutes, but shot only 4-12 the rest of the half. VCU trailed 32-21 before Maynor began to exert himself: a 3-point play, followed by sweet alleyoop to Sanders, and then another feed (this time to the White Russian) cut the lead to 30-34. With 20 seconds left in the half, a Joey Rodriguez floater tied it at 36, and brought the crowd to its feet.
The game would remain tight until Maynor broke it open late and it was closer than the final score indicates. The outcome was in doubt until about the last four minutes, when Maynor hit a floater in the lane and then drained a step-back three pointer (he ended the night, 4-6 from downtown), to give the Rams a 71-64 margin. It was right around then when the scoreboard watching began in earnest as the crowd waited to see if the Georgia State upset bid would hold. It did.
And Sanders’s finger–raised high in the air–showed everyone what that meant.
- Stat of the Game: Delaware scored 30 points in the first 12 minutes. They managed only 37 in the final 28.
- During a second half timeout a commotion behind one of the baskets was resolved when one of the refs kicked a fan (not a player or a coach, mind you) out of the game. Why would a college level ref have to kick a fan out of a game? Unless they are physically threatened in some way, shouldn’t refs be able to block out any taunts from the crowd? Of course what do I know about it? No one comes to my work place and yells at me if I make a mistake. But then again, not too many people would want to come to my parent’s basement.
- Maynor was more animated in the post game presser than I’ve ever seen. (30 and 10 will do that for you, I guess). He revealed that he and the other players were aware during the game that Northeastern was trailing. He said, “We’ve got a rugrat on our team. [Joey Rodriguez] kept saying, ‘They losing E. Take over. Northeastern is down five.'”
- The Rams caught a flight to Nevada early Thursday morning. Their next action is Friday night at 9 PM against Nevada in a nationally televised (ESPNU) BracketBusters Game.