RICHMOND, Va. – The electricity at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center started building around seven hours before tip-off when the first students started lining up for the much anticipated rivalry game between VCU and Old Dominion.
HAVOC kept that electricity high all night as the Rams forced 25 turnovers en route to a stifling defensive effort in VCU's 61-48 victory over the Monarchs on Saturday night in front of yet another sold out crowd on Broad Street.
"I'm not sure if we were rock stars or average people tonight, but I do know I'm proud of our guys for the way they played tonight. It was a great team win," Head Coach Shaka Smart said.
VCU registered 15 steals on the evening, marking the 12th time this year that the Black & Gold tallied double-digits and now rank third in the country with 10.0 steals per night. The 25 turnovers by ODU was the most by the Monarchs since December 6, 2003 in an overtime loss to Charlotte.
"It's just havoc, it's what we want to do every night," junior Troy Daniels said. "We just want to make the other team as uncomfortable as possible."
Daniels and classmate Darius Theus led the offense as the duo combined for 31 points and five three-pointers on the evening. Daniels finished with four treys on the night, including three critical ones in the second half during an 11-0 VCU run.
"When he starts to get it going, we just want to get him the ball over and over again," Theus said about Daniels.
The game started off as a typical ODU-VCU game with back and forth action and an excellent defensive display from both sides. After seven ties through the first 17 minutes, the Rams closed the first half on a 9-2 run to head to the locker room with a 32-25 lead.
After Nick Wright knocked down two free-throws, the Monarchs found themselves within three at 38-35. That's as close as they would be the rest of the night as HAVOC kicked into high intensity forcing six ODU turnovers in a four-minute span.
During that four-minute span, Daniels would drop in his three treys and freshman Briante Weber connected on a floater to give VCU a 14-point lead at 49-35 with 10:58 to play.
ODU would get the lead below to single digits just once before Theus scored eight points over the final 5:17 of the contest to secure the win for the Black & Gold.
The Rams have now held three of their last four opponents under 60 points and are holding conference opponents to just 57.8 points per game.
Weber, who leads the country in steal percentage, had four steals on the evening, as did Brandenberg. Every Ram that played tallied a steal in the contest.
"It's a team thing, we were all committed to the defensive end," Weber said. "It takes every single guy out there working their butt off to be successful and get stops. Fortunately, that's what we were able to do tonight."
The Rams continue their four-game in seven days stretch with a Monday night showdown with the Pride of Hofstra University. Game time on The Comcast Network is set for 7 p.m.