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UNCW suffers first CAA home loss of the season with 18 point setback versus VCU

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Senior guard Brandon Rozzell came off the bench to score 22 points, including 6-for-9 from long range, as VCU cruised past UNCW, 82-64, in a Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball game on Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.

The Rams won for the fourth time in five outings to improve to 11-5 overall and 3-1 in the CAA. The Seahawks had a three-game winning streak snapped and stand 8-7 and 2-2.

Rozzell led all scorers on 6-for-10 shooting overall to highlight four seniors in double digits for Shaka Smart's club. Forward Jamie Skeen added 15 points, Bradford Burgess scored 14 and Ed Nixon contributed 12 for the Rams. Rozzell's total was just one shy of his career-high of 23 set three times during his four-year stay in Richmond.

Senior guard Chad Tomko paced four UNCW players in double figures with 17 points. Senior guard Ahmad Grant and junior guard Trevor Deloach added 13 points apiece and Keith Rendleman chipped in 12 for the Seahawks.

"Give VCU credit, they just came in here and pretty much just jammed it down our throats," said first-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson. "They had some senior leadership and took it to us. We almost had to play a perfect ball game. The biggest difference was that VCU took us off the dribble."

The Rams applied relentless pressure to build a 37-32 lead at the break and increased the margin to as many 21 points before securing their fourth win in the last five trips to Wilmington.

Rozzell, who scored eight points in the first 20 minutes, had the hot hand early in the second period and canned three bombs in the first seven minutes of the final stanza as the Rams kept the Seahawks at bay. His third trey gave VCU a 52-41 cushion with 14:30 on the clock.

VCU led, 52-44, midway through the period when the Rams broke away by scoring 11 of the next 13 points as the lead ballooned to 63-46. Nixon converted a steal and layup to move the lead to 63-46 with 9:25 remaining.

Rozzell then fired in his sixth trifecta with 6:10 left to play to increase the lead to 71-50, VCU's largest lead of the contest.

After Rendleman scored the first bucket of the game in the paint, the Rams reeled off 13 unanswered points to take control early. Point guard Joey Rodriguez started the rally with a three-pointer from the left corner and Nixon's tip-in at 16:23 capped the spurt to give VCU a 13-2 lead.

The 13-point string was part of a 17-2 run for VCU, which extended the margin to 17-4 when Rodriguez connected on the first of two free throws with 11:46 left in the first half.

The Seahawks jumped back into the game with a 14-2 run. Five different players scored and Matt Wilson's tip-in in traffic at 9:08 closed the gap to 19-18. UNCW finally drew even when reserve guard Darryl Felder drained a long triple from the right corner at 6:32 for a 21-all tie.

UNCW strung together six points to jump ahead, 24-21, before VCU closed out the final five minutes in strong fashion, using clutch free throw shooting to pull ahead, 37-32, at intermission. The Rams converted both ends of three consecutive bonus situations and used a 16-6 spurt to regain control at halftime.

The Seahawks wrap up a three-game home stand on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. clash against Delaware at Trask. The Rams, meanwhile, travel down I-64 to take on William & Mary at Kaplan Arena in a 7 p.m. start.

GAME NOTES: VCU now owns a 22-17 lead in the 39-game series with UNCW...The Rams are 5-11 at Trask Coliseum...VCU scored 17 of its points off turnovers...The Seahawks committed just 12 miscues...The Rams were sharp at the free throw line, hitting 18-of-22 for 81.8 percent...The Seahawks went 8-of-16 at the charity stripe...Tomko and Nixon each collected four steals in the game...It was the first career meeting between Buzz Peterson and Shaka Smart...UNCW had 14 offensive rebounds to nine for VCU...Seahawk freshman starters Tanner Milson and Donte Morales were held scoreless in their first game against VCU...Tomko led all rebounders with nine caroms...The Seahawks are now 3-2 against Virginia opponents this season.

article courtesy UNCW Sports Information

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