RICHMOND, Va. – It's been nearly two weeks since the Virginia Commonwealth University men's basketball team has played at home.
On Wednesday night, senior Jamie Skeen helped the Black & Gold make sure it was a happy homecoming as the Charlotte, N.C. native scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in an 84-74 double-overtime thriller over the University of Delaware.
"I'm proud of the way our guys bounced back in the second half after a lackluster start," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "I thought we lacked energy in the first half so we challenged at the half and they responded at the right time. That's a credit to our upperclassmen and the leadership they continue to display."
Skeen and junior Bradford Burgess accomplished a rare feat in the victory as both players reached the 1,000-point plateau in the contest. Both are tied with 1,001 career points, with Skeen's being a combination of 608 points at VCU and 393 at Wake Forest. With senior Joey Rodriguez joining the club earlier this season, the Rams now have three 1,000 point scorers on the roster."
"Neither Brad or I knew that we were that close, but it's pretty cool that we could both do it in the same game," Skeen said. "Ultimately however, the important thing is our wins and accomplishing the goals we set for this season."
The Rams have now won 11 of their past 12 contests and now stand at 12-2 in conference play. With the win, VCU became the only program in the CAA and only program in the Commonwealth of Virginia to post 20-plus wins over the past five seasons.
"Not many programs are able to talk about five straight 20-win seasons," Smart said. "That's a credit to everyone involved with us, from the players to the coaches to the administration and especially the fans and supporters."
After a back-and-forth battle to start the contest, the Black & Gold ran off a 10-2 run capped off by a three-pointer from Burgess to give VCU a 25-18 advantage with 7:43 remaining in the first half.
However, Delaware responded with four three-pointers in the final five minutes of the first half to spark a 16-4 run to send the Fightin' Blue Hens into the break with a 34-29 cushion.
Delaware's hot shooting continued with a three-pointer from Brian Johnson giving the Fightin' Blue Hens their largest lead of the game at 50-39 with just under 13 minutes left in regulation.
Six straight points from Skeen and some clutch three-pointers from Rodriguez helped the Rams chip away that the lead and eventually tie the game at 60 with five minutes left to play on a old-fashioned three point by Rodriguez.
The teams would trade baskets down the stretch and lead to both Burgess and Delaware's Devon Saddler having game-winning opportunities with time running out, but neither converted as the game headed to overtime.
Defense would be the name of the game in the first overtime with both teams only notching four points, but in the second overtime the Rams took advantage of four fouls outs by the Fightin' Blue Hens.
Eight of VCU's 13 points in overtime came at the charity stripe, but a big three-pointer at the top of the key from senior Brandon Rozzell was the back-breaker and ultimately sealed the 84-74 decision.
"We knew had to continue to attack the basket and when we do that with success, it opens up a lot of things," Smart said.
Skeen's 32 point performance is the most by a Ram since Jan. 31, 2009 when Eric Maynor poured in 33 in a road win at Hofstra. Burgess finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Rodriguez chipped in 15 points and four rebounds. Rozzell was the final VCU player in double-figures with 11 points off the bench.
For Delaware, Saddler led the way with 19 points, while Jawan Carter finished with 15 points and eight assists.
The Rams finally return home on Saturday when they host Old Dominion in a sold out Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Tip-off time on ESPN2 is set for 2:05 p.m.