VCU Outlasts UNCW On Senior Night
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Sophomore guard Rob Brandenberg came off the bench to score 21 points and VCU withstood a late UNCW run to outlast the Seahawks, 63-59, on Senior Night in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball action Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Rams climbed to 24-6, 14-3 in conference action, and improved to 6-0 against the Seahawks under Head Coach Shaka Smart. UNCW fell to 9-19 overall and 5-12 in the CAA with the loss in its home finale.
Sophomore forward Juvonte Reddic supported Brandenberg with 14 points and a team high nine rebounds for VCU, which snatched 14 steals and forced 19 Seahawk turnovers in the contest.
Junior forward Keith Rendleman paced UNCW with a game-high 24 points and 10 boards, marking his 16th double double of the campaign. Sophomore guard Tanner Milson added 11 points, while freshman forward Cedrick Williams grabbed 11 boards.
VCU was leading by 10, 59-49, with 4:13 remaining when UNCW clawed back into the contest on the back of Rendleman. The Iron Station, N.C., native scored the Seahawks' final seven points as part of a 10-1 run, pulling UNCW to within a point, 60-59, after he completed a three-point play with 59 seconds remaining.
Junior guard Darius Theus was sent to the charity stripe with 49 seconds left, making 1-of-2 to make the score 61-59. But Brandenberg grabbed the offensive board off the missed free throw and VCU was able to run the clock down to 14 seconds, when senior guard Brandon Burgess missed a jumper.
UNCW drove down the court and called time out with nine seconds remaining. But Brandenberg stole the ensuing inbounds pass and converted both his free throws to put the game out of reach, 63-59.
The teams struggled offensively to begin the contest, with the score just 8-6 UNCW at the second media timeout with 11:58 remaining in the half. The teams combined to shoot 6-of-23 from the field and committed nine turnovers.
But at the 10:31 mark, sophomore guard Donte Morales drained a trey to give UNCW the 13-11 advantage and spark a 9-2 Seahawk run. Freshman guard Adam Smith capped the run with a fast break layup for his only two points at 8:23 to make the score 19-13 UNCW.
With the Seahawks still holding a six-point lead, 24-18, VCU rattled off a 10-4 spurt to even the contest at 28-all. Theus capped the run with back-to-back fast break buckets at 1:41 and 1:04 to tie the score.
Milson then converted a deep three to beat the shot clock with 28 seconds to go in the half and UNCW entered halftime with a 31-28 advantage.
VCU came out hot in the second, scoring six quick points to take a 34-31 lead off a free throw from sophomore center D.J. Haley. But VCU could not pull away, and the teams battled back and forth for the next 9:45, with neither squad holding more than a three point lead.
With the score 44-43 VCU with 8:59 remaining, the Rams exploded for a 15-6 run, capped by a layup from freshman guard Briante Weber at 4:23 to give VCU the 59-49 lead. UNCW then turned on the jets for its closing run, but the game was just out of reach for the upset-minded Seahawks.
Senior guards Trevor Deloach and Cam Chambers were honored in a pregame ceremony before the players started in their final game in front of the Seahawk faithful. Deloach notched one point and three boards in 12 minutes of action, while Chambers played four minutes in his first career start.
Both squads close out their regular seasons Saturday before heading to the 2012 CAA Men's Basketball Championships, March 2-5, in Richmond, Va. UNCW travels to Hofstra for a 4 p.m. bout with the Pride, while VCU hosts George Mason at 6 p.m.
GAME NOTES: VCU has taken 11 of the past 12 matchups with UNCW and
leads the all-time series 25-17 ... The attendance was 3,514 for the regular
season home finale ... The Rams forced a combined 47 Seahawk turnovers in the two games with UNCW this season ... UNCW held VCU's leading scorer, senior guard Bradford Burgess, to five points on 1-of-12 shooting.