With six seconds to play, Briante Weber stepped to the free throw line in front of 8,472 people and drained two giant baskets, the final points of VCU’s 68-64 thrilling win over the Monarchs of Old Dominion, good for a regular season sweep.
Just 55 seconds prior, Monarch star and CAA Preseason Player of the Year, Kent Bazemore, hit a layup that extended the ODU lead to three.
On the following possesion, “Big Shot” Bradford Burgess drained a monster basket from long range, tying the game at 61. Seconds later, Juvonte Reddic stole an ODU pass and hit a running Darius Theus who converted the old-fashioned three-point play, connected on a wild layup attempt and then hitting the free throw to give the Rams a three-point cushion. Theus then grabbed a rebound off a Trian Iliadis missed three and connected on two free throws to extend the lead to five before Iliadis then connected on a three, this time with seven seconds to play, cutting the VCU lead back to two.
ODU was unable to turn the Rams over, and Weber then finished his home-town crowd off at the line.
Bradford Burgess was hot for the second-straight game, following up his 22-point effort against Towson with a 24-point afternoon against the Monarchs.
Burgess was a solid 5-of-9 from downtown, and added six rebounds, two assists and five steals in a game that saw 17 ODU turnovers.
Theus, a Portsmith native and one-time target of the Monarchs, finished with 14 points on the night, eight of which came within the final 2:02 of the game. The junior point guard went 4-of-8 from the field, connected on all five of his free-throw attempts, and added three rebounds, two assists and a block for VCU.
A tight zone — and perhaps some serious nerves from one of the nation’s youngest teams — seemed to really slow VCU down early. ODU held the Rams to just 14 points over the first 13 minutes of play, and jumped out to a demanding 12-point lead.
As they’ve done time and time again this season though, the Rams went on one of their patented runs, scoring the next 8 points and outscoring the Monarchs 17-10 over the final 6:58 of the first half, heading into the lockers down just three after ODU got a late tip-in to end the half.
After ice-cold shooting from both teams to start the second, Treveon Graham connected on a three-pointer to give the Rams a 38-37 lead with 14:41 left to play. From there, VCU was able to stretch out a lead of their own, going up 45-37 before foul trouble enabled the Monarchs to eventually take the lead.
VCU was whistled for nine fouls over the last 10:30 of the game, 24 in total, but were able to pull out the win in dramatic fashion, a win that coupled with a Georgia State loss garantees the Rams a first-round CAA tournament bye the first weekend in March.
VCU has won 11-straight, and moves to 22-5 on the season with a 13-2 conference record.
VCU will have little time to celebrate as the Rams prepare for a 9PM tip at George Mason (20-6, 12-2) this Tuesday in what very well could be a battle for first place baring a Mason loss tonight in Wilmington, NC.