RICHMOND, Va. – During halftime at Saturday night's game, VCU announced the winner of their annual "Ultimate Ram" contest. Not to take away anything from the winner, Chris "Pav" Crowley, but the "Ultimate Ram" was wearing a #20 jersey for the VCU men's basketball team.
Senior Bradford Burgess went out in style in his last regular season game at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, scoring a career-high 31 points as VCU dominated George Mason, 89-77, to lock up the second seed in the upcoming CAA Tournament. The win also made Burgess the all-time leader in career wins with 104.
"I'm really happy for Brad to be able to have one of his best performances on Senior Night. It was his night and I'm glad he got to celebrate it with a win," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "I thought we really were able to feed off another great crowd tonight and come away with a big win."
With most of his family in attendance, Burgess went 7-of-14 from the field, including five three-pointers, and 12-of-14 from the charity stripe, finishing with 31 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal. He became just the third player in VCU history to score 1,600 points and grab 700 rebounds, joining only Kendrick Warren and Charles Wilkins in that club.
"It was the Bradford Burgess show, he was phenomenal and led our team in every way," Smart said. "He scored 31, but it seemed like even more than that."
Along with Burgess, sophomore Juvonte Reddic collected his fourth double-double in the past nine games with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while junior sharpshooter Troy Daniels poured in 17 points, including five three-pointers. Daniels now has 83 treys on the year, which ranks for the third-highest single-season total in VCU history.
"We had a lot of guys step up and make plays tonight," Burgess said. "We were certainly motivated to make sure it was a different outcome than the last time we played them."
The first five minutes set the tone for an offensive-minded night when VCU drilled four of their first five three-point attempts to take a 16-7 advantage with 15:19 to play in the first half. Pearson led Mason back to even the score at 16, before momentum swung to the Black & Gold for good.
With the score tied at 16 with 11:38 left in the first half, the Rams used just 1:31 to run off a 12-0 run, led by five points from Burgess to take a commanding 28-16 cushion.
Mason would get the lead into single-digits just once the rest of the way, with VCU wreaking HAVOC defensively in the first-half, forcing 14 Patriot turnovers in the first stanza en route to a 43-27 lead at the break.
The second half started much like the first with VCU pushing their lead to as much as 23 before Mason clawed back to get within 10, before the Rams were able to put the nail in the coffin with a couple of dunks from Reddic late in the contest.
"Credit goes to George Mason for really hanging tough and making us work for a full 40 minutes, it certainly wasn't easy, but our guys did enough to get the victory," Smart said.
With the win, VCU set a new single-season school record for regular season victories with 25. The Rams are now 22-3 since Nov. 30th with the three losses decided by a combined nine points.
The Black & Gold also reached double-digits in steals for the 20th time this year and pushed their season total to 329, which is a new single-season record for thefts. VCU has broken the single-season steals record in each of Coach Smart's three years.
"That's what we do," junior point guard Darius Theus said. "We want to pressure the ball and make teams as uncomfortable as possible and usually that results in some steals for us."
VCU will now have a first-round bye at the CAA Tournament and await the winner of seventh-seeded Northeastern and 10th-seeded William & Mary. Game time on Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum is set for 6 p.m.