Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bradley too quick for VCU

When VCU’s Jesse Pellot-Rosa hit a three-pointer with just under eight minutes remaining in the first half, it pushed the Rams lead over Bradley to 10 points. The sellout crowd (7,584), a screaming throng clad in goldenrod -- free T-shirts at the door, courtesy of VCU -- was sending a message to ESPN2’s viewers, coast to coast. With its Bracket Buster game featured in primetime, on its Siegel Center home court, at that moment the picture was sweet for VCU’s basketball team.

By halftime the Rams had spit out nine points of that lead. Three minutes into the second half, Bradley took the lead on a trey by Jeremy Crouch. The visiting Braves, of the highly-rated Missouri Valley Conference, never lost the lead: Bradley 73, VCU 64.

Tonight the breaks didn’t go VCU’s way. “It wasn’t our night,” said Rams head coach Anthony Grant. “Give Bradley credit.”

Crouch, one of four guards Bradley’s head coach Jim Les started, led all scores with 22 points; he connected on six of nine three-point shots he attempted. VCU had five players in double figures.

The Rams probably played well enough on defense to beat most of the teams they have played this season. But to best the Braves the Rams needed to shoot well. They didn’t. Point guard Eric Maynor had a particularly bad night offensively, scoring only four points. For whatever reason, he seemed a step slow all night.

Noting the bitter disappointment his players felt, at not playing their best game under the bright lights, Grant was philosophical about the loss. “All the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season are still right there in front of us.”

VCU drops to 22-6, with 14-2 record in CAA play, which is good for first place in the conference. Bradley 's record is now 19-10, with a 9-7 league record, which puts the Braves in fourth place in the Valley.

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