RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond was dubbed "Hoopstown USA" last spring after both VCU and the University of Richmond earned spots in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
On Friday night at a jammed packed Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, the Rams took over the sole spot as mayors of "Hoopstown USA" with a dominating 73-51 win over the Spiders in the fifth annual Black & Blue Classic, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys defended tonight," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "Coming into tonight, we talked about the way we had to have a relentless effort on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes. I thought we did a really nice job defensively tonight holding a really good team to just 51 points."
Ram Nation truly showed up with a national television audience watching as the Black & Gold celebrated a school-record seventh straight sellout at the Siegel Center.
"I thought the crowd was once again phenomenal tonight," Smart said. "It was the loudest I've heard the Siegel Center in the two-plus years I've been here. I can't say enough about our fans, the students, the people that support us. It really gives us such a lift in games like tonight."
Senior Bradford Burgess scored in double-figures for the eighth straight games, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sophomore Rob Brandenberg also scored14 points in the win, marking the fifth straight double-figure game for the Gahanna, Ohio native. Junior Troy Daniels was the third Ram in double-digits with 13 points off the bench.
However, it was once again the defensive that told the story as the Rams held Richmond to their lowest point total of the season and forced them into 17 turnovers on the evening. It was the fifth time this year that VCU has held their opponents to 60 points or less.
"It all comes down to our defensive effort and focus," Burgess said. "If we can continue to lock in defensively and get stops, we'll have a chance in every game we play."
The game was full of runs early with VCU ripping off a 12-2 spurt capped by a three-pointer from Burgess to grab a 16-8 advantage with 11:34 to play. Richmond's Cedrick Lindsay responded by scoring eight of the games next 10 points to give the Spiders a 18-16 cushion.
Back came the Black & Gold with a 14-0 run ignited by six points from freshman Treveon Graham, which helped VCU head into halftime with a 35-27 lead.
Shots would fall early in the second half for the Spiders as Kendall Anthony connected on three treys as VCU's lead was cut to just two at 47-45 with 11:03 remaining.
Enter the VCU defense, which held Richmond without a field goal over the final 8:21 of the contest. Offensively, Brandenberg scored all 14 of his points in the second half and an alley-oop from Daniels to sophomore Juvonte Reddic nearly brought the house down and capped off a tremendous last 10 minutes for the Black & Gold.
Lindsay finished with a game-high 22 points, while Anthony was held to season-low 13 points for the Spiders.
The 22 point margin of the victory is the third highest margin of victory in the 66 game series between Richmond and VCU. The highest margin of victory was 34 on March 2, 1996 (VCU 89-55); the other game came in the same season, with VCU posting a 79-51 victory over the Spiders on Jan. 20, 1996.
VCU will now take the week to focus on final exams before opening up conference play with a visit from the Seahawks of UNC Wilmington. Game time next Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena is set for 7 p.m.