Virginia Commonwealth 70, William and Mary 52
Marcus Kitts knew he should not have jumped.
The senior center had already recorded a double-double, his second of the season. But with 8:10 remaining in the second half, Kitts bit on the pump fake from Virginia Commonwealth forward Jamie Skeen.
Skeen drew the foul and hit the layup. Kitts went to the bench with his 14 points and 10 rebounds. And the Rams went on a 20-to-8 run to close out a 70-52 victory over William and Mary (4-12, 0-5 CAA).Wednesday night
“A few of those calls were pretty tough,” Kitts said. “It has been a battle my four years here. That is just something you have to fight through and stay down on that pump fake come next game.”
With Kitts on the bench, freshman forward Tim Rusthoven drew the assignment of guarding Skeen, who finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Wanting to help the rail-thin Rusthoven, the Tribe began sending extra defenders to double Skeen on the post.
But the VCU senior just kicked it out to his guards, including freshman Rob Brandenburg who scored 19 of his 22 total points in the second half.
“He was hurting us a lot so we decided obviously to deny the post, but once he got it to have the guard double team him but he ended up hurting us on that with all the assists he got from three pointers,” Rusthoven said.
Kitts checked into the game with 4:15 remaining, but drew his fifth foul 12 seconds later. By then the Tribe was already down 65-47 and the game was mostly out of reach.
It was a game in which VCU scored in quick, prolific bursts. The Rams opened with a 9-0 run in the game’s first three minutes, forcing the College’s freshman backcourt of Brandon Britt and Julian Boatner into two turnovers.
The Tribe would cut the deficit to 29-20 at the half thanks to six points from Kitts and steady play from backup guards Matt Rum and Kendrix Brown. Rum even started the second half alongside Britt, as the two combined with Kitts to score the College’s first 12 points of the second half and cut the VCU deficit to 35-32.
But the Rams went on a 10-2 run thanks to eight points from Brandenberg, who set a new career high in the contest.
“I feel like we get the career nights from opposing teams more often than not,” Kitts said.
The College would cut VCU’s lead to eight, 50-42 on a three-pointer by JohnMark Ludwick with 8:35 remaining. But Kitts would draw his fourth foul soon after, ending the Tribe’s momentum and sending its head coach searching for answers.
“I don’t have answers for when [a young team starts winning],” Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “I think for a young team it comes in stages. I think young players in college basketball can be successful when they are surrounded by great experience. We have some experienced players, but we don’t have great experience.”