Rams Deal Seahawks Loss In CAA Debut
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
RICHMOND, Virginia - Bradford Burgess and Juvonte Redic provided the offensive punch and VCU's suffocating defense forced 28 turnovers to help the Rams cruise past UNCW, 87-64, in the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball opener for both teams Saturday night at the Stuart Siegel Center.
The Rams won their fourth consecutive game to raise their record to 7-3 on the season and nailed down their fifth straight over the Seahawks. The Seahawks, returning from an 11-day break and playing the first of three games in five days before the Christmas break, had their two-game winning streak snapped and stand 2-6.
"We tried to simulate their defense as much as we could in practice, but they just came at us in waves," said second-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson. "We didn't handle their pressure very well at all. It was a tough environment to play in and we just got caught up in it and got out of sync."
Burgess, a senior guard from nearby Midlothian, Va., led all scorers with 22 points to anchor four players in double figures for the Rams, who shot 46.5 percent. Redic added 16 points and nine rebounds, while Troy Daniels and Treveon Graham chipped in 15 points apiece for VCU.
Junior forward Keith Rendleman recorded his fourth double-double of the season and the 10th of his career with 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Seahawks. Freshman point guard KK Simmons was the only other player in double digits with 11 points as UNCW shot 49 percent on the night.
The two teams kicked off their conference slates in a fast-paced game that saw the Rams win for the 11th time in UNCW's 13 appearances at the 7,600-seat arena. VCU capitalized on UNCW's early ball handling miscues to bolt out to a 30-16 lead and never let the Seahawks get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Freshman guard Adam Smith's trifecta from the left wing gave UNCW a brief 11-10 edge with just over 13 minutes left in the first half, but VCU used a 20-5 run to take control. Daniels was the catalyst in the spurt, draining three treys en route to 11 points in the rally. Burgess rained a three-ball from the left wing to push the margin to 30-16 at the 8:36 mark of the first half.
VCU's cushion ballooned to 16 points just three minutes later when Redic slammed home his third dunk of the half to extend the margin to 38-22 at 4:21. VCU took advantage of 17 first-half turnovers by UNCW to carry a 45-32 advantage into halftime.
Sophomore forward Donte Morales connected on a 3-pointer right out of the chute in the second half to help UNCW pull within, 45-35, but VCU scored 13 of the next 15 points to break away again. Daniels hit another trey from the left side at 15:45 to increase the lead back to 58-37,
VCU's largest lead of the contest came with 5:32 left in the game when Redic converted a lay-in over several UNCW defenders to push the lead to 81-54.
"VCU is the top team in the league right now," added Peterson. "I really believe they're just as good or even better than last year."
The Seahawks return home for the first time since Nov. 26 on Monday to entertain state rival Campbell in a 7 p.m. contest at Trask Coliseum. The Rams entertain UAB on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The remainder of the CAA's 12 teams opened their conference schedules on Dec. 3...VCU leads the all-time series, 34-27, including 31-27 since joining the CAA in 1996...VCU has won six of its last seven outings... Burgess was a preseason First-Team All-CAA selection...UNCW's last win over VCU came on Feb. 4, 2009, via an 81-72 verdict in Wilmington...UNCW outrebounded VCU, 39-31...The Rams only had eight turnovers on the night...VCU attempted 20 more three-pointers than UNCW...Both teams went 10-for-16 at the free throw line...With five points, Smith was held below double figures for the first time in his career...VCU came up with 20 steals in the contest...The Rams have not scored below 72 points in their last 11 games against the Seahawks.