WASHINGTON, D.C. – Prior to Sunday's game at the Verizon Center, home of the Washington Wizards, senior Bradford Burgess had showed he was pretty comfortable playing in NBA arenas. The last time he took the floor at an NBA arena, he poured in 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting to lead VCU past Purdue in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
With that in mind, it came as no shock when Burgess led the Black & Gold to yet another victory inside a NBA arena with a 75-60 takedown of George Washington. The Midlothian, Va. native poured in a season-high 24 points to lead VCU to its fourth win in its past five games.
"I thought George Washington did a great job of battling back in the second half, they really turned the tide in terms of aggressiveness for the better part of the early second half," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "The difference today was Bradford Burgess. He played like a senior, he played like a leader and he made seemingly every big shot for us. That really allowed us to keep the lead and extend it at the end."
Burgess finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-8 from long range. He also added five rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist. It's the seventh straight game that Burgess has scored in double-digits, averaging 15.9 points per game over that span.
"I just got some really good open shots today and was able to knock them down," Burgess said. "We knew if we could get in the lane it would create some shots on the outside. That's exactly what happened and my teammates were able to find me when I was open."
Sophomore Rob Brandenberg registered double-figures for the fifth straight game with 12 point and also grabbed five rebounds. Junior Darius Theus and freshman Briante Weber rounded out the four Rams in double-digits with 10 points apiece.
"We have an unselfish team," Smart said. "When you have a young team with a lot of new guys and new roles, you're still kind of figuring it out in terms of who's doing what. But we don't have anyone who takes shots selfishly. They all look for each other."
Like many of VCU's games this year, the afternoon started as a back-and-forth battle with the Rams finding themselves squared up at 16 with 12:36 showing on the first half clock.
Enter Troy Daniels. The junior from Roanoke, Va. connected on three treys to spark a 13-2 run to give the Black & Gold a comfortable 29-18 cushion with 5:21 to play in the first stanza.
Two treys from Brandenberg in the final two minutes would allow VCU to extend their lead to 43-26 at halftime.
George Washington would not go away easily and continued to chip away at the Rams' lead in the second half. A tip-in from Lasan Kromah at the 9:21 mark brought the Colonials within seven at 56-49.
Burgess would then score five straight points for VCU and push the lead back to 10. However, GW would respond and a lay-up from Kromah cut the lead to six, 62-56, with 5:27 to play.
Theus would come up with two huge plays for the Rams, first with a three-pointer from the corner and then an old-fashioned three-point play after a nice drive to the hoop. That would push VCU's back to 10 with 3:56 remaining and ultimately sealed the win for the Black & Gold.
Once again, it came back to the defensive end for the Rams as they held GW to just eight points on four field goals over the final 8:19 of the contest. HAVOC was on display yet again as the Colonials were forced into 17 turnovers, marking the sixth time this year VCU forced 15 or more turnovers.
The Black & Gold, who have now won 12 of its last 14 showdowns with the Atlantic-10, will return home to take on crosstown rival and reigning A-10 Champions, Richmond, on Friday evening. Game time on ESPN2 is set for 8 p.m.