HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – During their Navy Seal Team training this past offseason, the VCU men's basketball team learned a phrase that continues to be used on a daily basis. That phrase states, "it takes everyone to succeed and just one person to mess it up."
On Monday night, the first part of that phrase was on full display as the Rams got 44 points off the bench en route to their eighth straight victory, an 80-63 defeat of Hofstra. It was the most bench points in a road game for VCU since December 30, 2005 when the Rams toppled Hampton, 84-44.
"We've got a lot of different guys that can really help us and I like that," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "I certainly wouldn't mind a couple guys averaging over 20 points, but for us to have a lot of guys that can affect the game really plays into our fast-paced style of play."
Junior Troy Daniels led the way with 15 points, while classmate Darius Theus added a career-high 14 points and seven assists for the Black & Gold. Sophomore Juvonte Reddic and freshman Briante Weber each chipped in 12 points apiece. Weber, the reigning CAA Rookie of the Week, tallied five steals for the second straight game.
"This group of guys just really loves playing with each other and all we want to do is help each other win," Theus said. "We know that any guy on this team can step up on any given night, we just have to stay focused on doing whatever it takes to win, that's all that matters."
Once again, VCU's HAVOC defense was front and center forcing the Pride into 21 turnovers, while holding the CAA's leading scorer, Mike Moore, to 14 points. Entering the game, Moore was seventh in the country in three-point field-goal percentage at 45.6%. He finished 1-of-7 from beyond the arc in the game.
"We all know that it comes down to the defensive end," Weber said. "It's all about getting stops and pressuring our opponents and we were able to do that tonight."
Both teams shot the ball well to start the contest and it looked on pace to be a high-scoring affair as the Rams held a 19-17 lead with 12:17 remaining in the first half.
That's when VCU's defense locked in and held the Pride to just one field goal over the next 8:15 and a three-pointer from Daniels helped open up a nine-point cushion 30-21.
Two Hofstra turnovers in the final 1:30 of the first stanza allowed the Black & Gold to take a 41-30 advantage into the intermission.
VCU continued its aggressiveness in the second half as they ran out on a 6-0 run to start the period and quickly saw the lead balloon to 17 at 47-30 with 18:49 remaining.
The lead would grow to as many as 20 before Hofstra clawed its way back within 13 before Weber drilled a couple late three-pointers to put the nail in the coffin and secure VCU's eighth straight win.
VCU racked up double-digit steals for the ninth time this year and now sit second nationally with 10.4 swipes per game. Weber is now averaging 2.7 steals per game and upped his nationwide lead in steal percentage to 7.89%. The Rams also forced 20 or more turnovers for the seventh time this season. Last year, VCU accomplished that feat five times.
The Black & Gold now have a quick turnaround to face-off against the red-hot Panthers of Georgia State, who have won 10 straight games after taking down preseason CAA favorite Drexel on Monday. With only standing room only tickets left, it will be the 10th consecutive sellout at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
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