RICHMOND, Va. – The day started with another sellout crowd celebrating four integral parts of VCU basketball that gave the Rams four tremendous years.
Unfortunately, the day did not end that way as the Black & Gold dropped their fourth straight conference decision in a 72-69 loss to James Madison University on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
"I'm most disappointed for our seniors. Senior Day is always a special moment and something that you remember forever and not come away with a win on a day like today is just disappointing," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "Fortunately, we have the chance to basically start over in a week at the conference tournament."
VCU now heads into the upcoming CAA Tournament with a 21-10 overall record and a 12-6 mark in conference play. The Rams have earned a first-round bye and will await to see their possible opponents until later this evening.
"We've got a lot to work on between now and next week," Senior Joey Rodriguez said. "Simply put, we have to get better in every single area. This isn't VCU basketball and we'll work hard all week to show everyone what VCU basketball is exactly."
Rodriguez, along with classmates Jamie Skeen, Ed Nixon and Brandon Rozzell were all honored before tip-off. The quartet went on to score 46 points, grab 20 rebounds and dish out 12 assists on the afternoon. Skeen led the way with 20 points of his own, while Rodriguez reached double-digit assists for the second time in the past three games.
"To be honest with you, I don't even look at the boxscore, all that matters to me is the scoreboard," Skeen said. "At the end of the day, we were all four points away from having a good game."
It was a back-and-forth battle throughout, but four three-pointers in the first six minutes for the Rams gave the home team an 18-14 cushion with 13:39 to play before halftime.
The Dukes responded by forcing a couple of VCU turnovers and eventually took a five-point lead when Rayshawn Goins laid in a basket with 3:55 left before the intermission. Skeen and junior Bradford Burgess quickly sparked a 7-0 run, but Moore connected on a lay-up late in the first half to send JMU into the break with a 43-41 advantage.
Moore would assert himself in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 18 points and helped the Dukes extend its lead to nine at 57-48 with 15:22 remaining in regulation.
The Black & Gold would climb back and tie the game, but could never get over the hump as Moore scored seven of JMU's last 11 points on the evening.
"In the first half we lacked defensive communication and energy," Smart said. "I thought in the second half we did a better job with it, but then we had some flaws in other defensive areas like stopping the dribble."
Moore led four Dukes in double-figures as he finished with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds. All-CAA big man Denzel Bowles poured in 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Humpty Hutchins connected on four three-pointers on the afternoon.
"It's gut check time now," Rodriguez said. "It's up to us what we want from the rest of our college careers. Hopefully we're able to show who we really are next week."
The CAA Tournament starts Friday afternoon at the Richmond Coliseum with first-round action. VCU will play Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. with the opponent to be determined.