WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The VCU men's basketball program has a long and storied history that has seen the Rams pile up over 800 wins in 43 seasons.
However, on Wednesday night, the 2011-12 edition of the Black & Gold accomplished something that had never happened before in VCU history. With their 87-78 win over William & Mary, the Rams won their eighth straight game. It is the first time in school history that VCU has posted two win streaks of eight or more in the same season.
"I'm proud of the way our guys continue to progress and were able to battle through some adversity to get the win tonight," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "We certainly didn't defend the way we wanted to tonight, but in the end we were able to make winning plays."
Sophomore Juvonte Reddic led the way offensively and continued his emergence with his second 20-point performance of the year with 20 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-12 from the field.
"It's really a credit to my teammates for continuing to put in position to be successful," Reddic said. "I just have to continue to play hard for a full 40 minutes and keep working on my game. I just want to do whatever it takes for us to win."
Along with Reddic, classmate Rob Brandenberg chipped in 17 points, while junior Troy Daniels drilled four three-pointers en route to 16 points on the evening. Freshman Treveon Graham was the fourth Ram to score in double-figures with 13 points to help lead a 36-point effort from VCU's bench.
"We all know it doesn't matter if you start or whatever, it's playing hard when your number is called," Brandenberg said. "We love to play with each other and every guy just wants to do whatever it takes to help the team win."
The game started with a three-pointer from Daniels, but the Tribe bounced right back and scored the next nine points to take a six-point lead. Five different Rams scored over the next six minutes as VCU ran off a 16-3 run, led by five points apiece from Graham and Brandenberg.
William & Mary would cut the lead to two before the Rams went on another run, this time it was 15-6, capped off by another three-pointer by Daniels to take their first double-digit lead of the game at 34-23.
Once again, the Tribe responded to cut the lead to seven, but VCU ended the half with an and-one by Reddic, a steal and layup by Graham, a 10-second violation on the Tribe and a putback by senior Bradford Burgess, scoring seven points in the final minute to take a commanding 44-30 lead into halftime.
Reddic scored VCU's first six points off the second half and helped the Black & Gold push their lead to as many as 19, before Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt started the comeback charge for William & Mary. Behind a combined 29 second-half points from Thornton and Britt, the Tribe climbed back within seven, but VCU went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe in the final two minutes to secure their eighth straight victory.
"We know that we didn't play our best tonight, but we were able to make the plays when we needed to and come away with the win," Burgess said.
The Rams shot 53.2% from the field, their best output since a Dec. 22 win at UNC Greensboro. The 87 points tied (87-64 win over UNCW on 12/17) for the highest point total of the season.
VCU returns to the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday for a Homecoming showdown with Northeastern. Game time on The Comcast Network is set for 7 p.m.