Tidewater natives clutch as VCU stuns ODU late

A year ago he was the loud VCU fan dressed in bright yellow in the middle of a white out ODU student section. Tonight he was the VCU student-athlete who hit two clutch free throws to ice a Rams win.

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.

A two-time graduate of VCU (School of the Arts '07, Center for Sport Leadership '10), Mat is a co-founder of VCU Ram Nation and a longtime fan as the ...