NEWARK, Del. – In the local paper, Delaware Head Coach Monte Ross was quoted talking about VCU saying "when we put the names up on the board for the scouting report, they won't recognize those names," in reference to a lot of last year's success being due to the four departed seniors.
The 13 players on the Rams this season made sure that the Fightin' Blue Hens would recognize their names next time around with a stifling defensive effort in a 68-55 victory over Delaware in a critical CAA matchup. VCU held All-CAA guard Devon Saddler to just 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting.
"I'm really proud of our guys defensive intensity and effort today," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "Delaware is an incredibly talented team with two of the top five players [Saddler and Jamelle Hagins] in the league, in my opinion, and our guys really were locked in on trying to shut them down. I thought we did a nice job of that today."
VCU's defensive intensity was evident right from the tip when they kept Delaware without a point for the first 8:58 of the contest. Dating back to Thursday night's game against JMU, the Rams went a span of 16:57 without allowing a field goal and a total of just two points.
"We know that no matter how we're shooting the ball, that our defense is what is going to win games," senior Bradford Burgess said. "If we stay focused on the defensive end for 40 minutes, we're always going to have a chance to win."
Burgess led all scorers with 18 points, while also corralling seven rebounds and dishing out two assists. Sophomore Juvonte Reddic tallied double-digits for the sixth time in the past nine games with 11 points and nine rebounds on the afternoon. Four other Rams scored at least nine points on the afternoon, highlighted by a career-high eight points from sophomore big man D.J. Haley.
"It's just a matter of working to get better every time you step on the court," Haley said. "My teammates do a great job of encouraging me to continue to keep working. I just want to keep getting better."
After VCU jumped out to an 8-0 lead, Delaware cut the lead down to two at 17-15 with a 5-0 run of their own. Burgess would then ignite a 13-4 run for the Rams with six points and give the Black & Gold its largest lead thus far at 30-19 with 3:00 left to play in the first half.
However, the Fightin' Blue Hens would get to baskets inside to close out the half and send the teams into the locker room with VCU leading 30-23.
Seven straight points from Delaware big man Josh Brinkley and a layup by Saddler brought the Fightin' Blue Hens within four, 36-32, with 15:50 remaining in regulation.
Four more VCU three-pointers over a six-minute span pushed the lead to as many as 17 in the second half.
The Rams won the battle on the glass once again, 46-44, marking the 10th time in the past 12 games that VCU had been even or better in the rebounding column. Reddic and junior Troy Daniels both led the way with nine rebounds on the afternoon. The nine rebounds for Daniels was a career-high.
"We work on team-rebounding all the time in practice and I think we're continuing to get better at attacking the glass," Daniels said.
VCU will now return home for a three-game homestand beginning with a Thursday night date with in-state rival William & Mary on ESPNU. Game time at the Verizon Wireless Arena is set for 8 p.m.