RICHMOND, Va. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Senior Eric Maynor (Raeford, N.C.) scored 30 points and spurred Virginia Commonwealth University to a big early cushion on the way to a 73-69 victory over Akron Wednesday at the Alltel Pavilion at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
MaynorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s third 30-point performance of the year was the driving force behind the RamsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ fourth straight victory. The 6-3 guard scored 19 points in the second half alone. Maynor provided 10 points during a dazzling 23-6 VCU run over the last eight minutes of the first half to hand the Rams a 38-22 lead.
Junior Kirill Pishchalnikov (Maykop, Russia) added nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. His presence was a key factor in the RamsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 34-27 advantage on the boards. VCU (7-3) also outscored the Zips (6-4) in the paint, 36-18.
Sophomore Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and three steals, while handing out four assists for the Black and Gold.
Anthony Hitchens led five Akron players in double figures with 14 points. Chris McKnight added 13 points and five rebounds.
VCU led by as many as 17 points in the second half, only to see the Zips claw within five points on several occasions. The Rams led, 73-64 with 1:07 left on a pair of Maynor free throws, but Hitchens hit a 3-pointer and a layup in a 30-second span to close Akron to within 73-69 with 31 seconds left. The Zips missed four shots, three of them 3-pointers, in the final 15 seconds as the Rams held on for the win.
VCU returns to the hardcourt on Saturday, Dec. 20 when it heads to Oklahoma City to face former Ram Coach Jeff Capel and fourth-ranked Oklahoma in the All-College Classic at 10 p.m.