- - Friday, December 9, 2011

In a game of counter surges, Virginia Commonwealth needed something to happen — a defensive stop, a missed shot, points — to stem Richmond’s momentum Friday night.

The Spiders, sparked by freshman Kendall Anthony, had pared a 10-point deficit to two with 11 minutes left.

VCU’s response came with a trickle and then with a flood: a free throw from Bradford Burgess; two more Burgess free throws; a charge drawn by Juvonte Reddic; a free throw by Rob Brandenberg; a 3-pointer by Darius Theus; missed shots and turnovers by Richmond.

All that, plus the effect of VCU’s pressure, piled up as the Rams went on a 20-4 run and accelerated away from the Spiders for a 73-51 victory before a raucous sellout crowd at the Siegel Center.

The win was the seventh in the past eight meetings for VCU (6-3) between the teams whose success in the NCAA tournament — VCU advanced to the Final Four, UR to the Sweet 16 — put a spotlight on the city last year.

The one loss — 72-60 — came last year and was on the minds of the Rams all week. VCU trailed by 30 in the second half.

The Rams watched a lot of footage of that game.

“They beat us pretty bad at their place [last year],” Burgess said. “We just wanted to pay them back.”

Said VCU coach Shaka Smart: “Any time you play a team you lost to, I don’t care if you play them 10 years later, you’re going to remember it.”

Still, that was in the background after Anthony scored 11 points in fewer than five minutes in the second half for the Spiders (6-3).

“We just had to regroup after they got on a run,” said Burgess, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. “We had to get back on the game plan. We got stops and didn’t look back.”

Reddic’s drawn charge was a huge play.

“We take charges real serious as a team,” he said. “We talk about it all the time. … I think that’s what got us going. It was such a big play, a game-changing moment.”

Richmond climbed within five, but a free throw from Burgess, and Brandenberg’s drive put VCU back in control. Reddic’s dunk off a lob from Troy Daniels, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Brandenberg nearly brought down the house.

Brandenberg didn’t score in the first half. He finished with 14 points. Daniels had 13.

“The second half, I got in a little groove,” Brandenberg said.

Cedrick Lindsay had a career-high 22 points, 17 in the first half, for Richmond. Anthony, UR’s leading scorer, was 1 of 8 in the first half. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half to spearhead Richmond’s comeback.

“They played much better than us tonight,” Spiders coach Chris Mooney said. “The game went their way. I wished we would have played better. We need to shoot a little bit better in order to stop some of the runs they had.”

UR was 17 of 47 (36.2 percent) and 4 of 20 on 3-pointers. The Spiders had 17 turnovers, and Smart thought the cumulative effect of VCU’s pressure wore down UR and helped with the final surge.

“I’m really proud of the effort,” Smart said. “We talked about the fact we had to have a relentless effort on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes.”

Read Tim Pearrell’s VCU blog at TimesDispatch.com

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