Balanced VCU Holds Off Western Michigan, 79-62

RICHMOND, Va. – Junior Kirill Pishchalnikov (Maykop, Russia) and sophomore Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) booked career nights to back senior Eric Maynor (Raeford, N.C.) and Virginia Commonwealth University in a 79-62 victory over Western Michigan Thursday at the Alltel Pavilion.

VCU improves to 4-3 with the victory, while Western Michigan slips to 2-6.

Pishchalnikov provided the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 14 rebounds, both career highs. His effort helped lead the Rams to a 33-30 rebounding advantage. VCU had been outrebounded in four of its first six games. Rodriguez knocked down 3-of-7 3-pointers and finished with a personal-best 17 points.

Meanwhile, Maynor scored a game-high 29 points, narrowly missing a second-straight 30-point performance. The 6-3 guard knocked down 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Maynor also dished out eight assists, pushing him over 500 for his career. He is the fourth Ram reach that plateau.

David Kool led the Broncos with 22 points.

Despite the play of Maynor, Pishchalnikov and Rodriguez, Western Michigan was able to give the Rams a late scare.

Kool scored seven points, including one of his four 3-pointers on the night, to spark a 16-3 Bronco run and cut a 19-point VCU lead to 63-57 with 5:11 remaining.

However, Maynor sandwiched two buckets and two free throws around a Pishchalnikov putback to lead a 10-3 burst and keep the Broncos at bay.

“[Western Michigan] had two great runs, and I think the thing that was good about our guys is that they were able to answer those runs,” VCU Head Coach Anthony Grant said. “They didn’t panic, they were poised. Eric made some plays, some other guys stepped up and made some plays, and we made a recommitment that we needed to get stops on the defensive end.”

VCU shot 51 percent (26-of-51) on the evening, the third time it has topped 50 percent this season. Western Michigan shot 39 percent (23-of-59) from the floor.

The Rams will return to the court on Saturday, Dec. 6 when they meet rival William & Mary in an early-season conference match-up at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va. That game is scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.
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Matt has been reporting on VCU sports for Ram Nation since 2007 with a focus on news, photos, and feature stories.
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Matt Morton
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