Up until last Wednesday, the VCU Rams Men’s Basketball team had not lost in eight games, and they barely lost that one. With just 2.6 seconds left in the game, VCU was winning 63-62, when JMU’s freshman guard Wes Miller was fouled on a last-second shot attempt. Miller then went 2-2 from the free throw line, the first two of his college career, to give JMU a one-point lead with virtually no time remaining on the clock.
Several seconds before Miller’s foul shots, junior guard Domonic Jones missed two free throws.
After Miller sunk his foul shots for JMU, the Rams had one more possession and one more chance to win the game. Senior guard Emanual Mathis made a long pass to freshman forward Nick George, who got off a three-point shot at the buzzer. The shot missed and JMU ended up with a one-point victory against VCU.
Despite the close finish between the two teams, JMU led the majority of the game, with as much as an 11-point lead in the first half. In the first half the Dukes outshot the Rams 46 percent to 30 percent. Going into the locker room at the half, JMU was up seven points, 37-30.
VCU turned it around in the second half by outshooting JMU 48 percent to 33 percent. VCU also earned its first lead of the game since its 9-8 lead in the beginning of the game. The Rams held it until Miller hit the second free throw for the game- winning basket.
Junior center Troy Godwin led the Rams in points and rebounds with 16 and 10, respectively, to earn a double-double. Godwin went 8-11 for the game. One point behind Godwin was senior guard Antoine Willie, who went 5-9 with two three-pointers and shot 75 percent from the free-throw line, with 15 points. Jones also had double-digit points with 11, after going 5-11 and making one free throw. Senior forward Willie Taylor was the only other VCU player to score in the double digits with 10, after going 3-9 including, two three-pointers and shooting 2-2 from the free-throw line. George was the second highest rebounder for the Rams, with seven. Godwin fouled out with his foul against Miller with only 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.
Forward Ian Caskill led the Dukes with 16 points. Caskill went 5-8 from the floor and 6-8 from the free-throw line. Caskill also had seven rebounds for JMU. Also scoring in double digits for JMU were Kenny Whitehead, with 12 points and eight rebounds, and Chris Williams, who had 10 points. Even though JMU only had three players in the double digits, four more teammates would combine to earn 26 additional points for the Dukes.
On Saturday, the Rams traveled to Wilmington, N.C. for a chance to redeem themselves against the first place team in the CAA. Second place VCU lost the CAA game of the week against UNC-Wilmington and will enter the CAA tournament next weekend as the No. 2 seed, with UNC-Wilmington entering as the No. 1 seed.
The Seahawks’ senior guard Brett Blizzard led both teams in scoring, with 26 points, in the 80-63 UNC-Wilmington victory.
The Seahawks moved up to 20-6 overall (14-3 in the CAA) while VCU dropped to 17-9 (12-6 in the CAA).
VCU started the second half down seven points but spent the first several minutes earning a lead. Willie hit a three-point shot to give VCU a 48-47 lead and complete a 13-5 run with 13:20 remaining in the game.
UNC-Wilmington responded with a 13-3 run of its own, in which Blizzard had five points.
For the remainder of the game the Seahawks continued to widen their lead. With 4:46 remaining, Blizzard hit his fifth basket from behind the arc to give UNC-Wilmington an 11-point lead. Junior guard Tim Burnette added to the Seahawks’ lead by sinking a three-pointer with 1:07 left in the game to put them up 78-58. The 78-58 score was the biggest lead UNC-Wilmington had during the game.
At the final buzzer, UNC-Wilmington was up 80-63.
Blizzard went 8-17 for UNC-Wilmington and went 50 percent from three-point range, with five. Center Craig Callahan had 16 points for the Seahawks after going 7-15 and 2-2 from the free-throw line. Callahan also had seven rebounds. Burnette also ended up in the double digits and lead the team in rebounds, with 10 and 8, respectively. Burnette went 3-10, including two three-pointers and 2 free throws.
The Rams had four players in the double-digits. Taylor led the team with 18 points after going 4-9 and making 10 out of a staggering 13 free-throws. Taylor also had nine rebounds for VCU. Both Mathis and Godwin were right behind Taylor, with 12 points a piece. Mathis went 4-9, all of which where from three-point range. Godwin went 5-7 and made 2-3 free-throws. Godwin also picked up 11 rebounds along the way to earn a double-double. George was also in the double digits, with 10 points after going 5-9.
The two teams look to rival each other for the CAA title in the upcoming tournament this weekend at the Richmond Coliseum.