HAMPTON, Va. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Playing in their third game in six days, the Virginia Commonwealth University grinded out a tough 63-52 road victory at Hampton University on Monday night
Behind sophomore Bradford BurgessÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (Midlothian, Va.) first career double-double, the Rams improved to 3-1 on the year, while the Pirates fell to 0-3.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was pleased to see the way our guys were able to grit out this win and really show some mental toughness,Ã¢â‚¬Â Head Coach Shaka Smart said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Playing on the road is never easy and we did a great job of hanging tough and winning the battle of the boards.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Burgess posted career-highs in points with 18 and rebounds with 10, while senior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.) corralled a career-best 11 rebounds to go along with nine points.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coming into this game we were focused on not letting down after the big win on Saturday,Ã¢â‚¬Â Burgess said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“So many times itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to slip up, especially on the road, but we concentrated on winning the battle of the boards and hitting the shots when we needed to.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Three points from Gwynn and Burgess over the course of the first three minutes helped the Black & Gold jump out to a 7-2 advantage.
After that, it was a tough shooting half, with both teams shooting under 30% from the field, including a combined 2-for-19 from beyond the arc. The Rams were able to grab a nine-point half-time lead thanks to nine points from Gwynn.
Hampton would come out of the break on a 6-1 run thanks to three fast-break layups to get within four at 29-25 just a minute into the second half.
Five points from Burgess and four points from junior Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) capped off a 12-2 VCU run as the Rams quickly extended their lead to 14 at 41-27 with 13:21 remaining in regulation.
Michael Freeman would take over for the Pirates, scoring seven points in just over two minutes to get Hampton with five at 48-43.
Like he has throughout his time in the Black & Gold, Burgess drilled a huge three-pointer from the corner to push the lead to eight.
Hampton would get no closer the rest of the way with the Rams going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe over the final 1:24 to preserve the first road victory of the campaign.
Along with Burgess, Sanders added 11 points, four rebounds and four blocks, while junior Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) chipped in 10 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Freeman had 13 points to lead the Pirates, while Vincent Simpson added 10 points in a losing effort.
The Rams return to action this Friday as they host the high-scoring Wolfpack of Nevada in a 7:30 p.m. contest at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.