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Courtesy: CAA/Scott K. Brown

VCU Holds Off Northeastern, 75-65

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 03/03/2012
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Richmond, Va. - Sophomore Rob Brandenberg scored a game-high 19 points knocked down three of the Rams' six second half three-point field goals as second-seeded VCU forced 25 turnovers and turned aside seventh-seeded Northeastern, 75-65, on Saturday evening in the quarterfinals of the 2012 CAA Men's Basketball Championship. 

Seeking its first CAA crown since 2009 and fifth overall, VCU (26-6) will face the winner of No. 3 George Mason versus sixth-seeded Georgia State contest on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in semifinal action.  

The Rams got off to a quick start and opened up an 11-3 lead at the 14:37 mark of the first half as sophomore D.J. Haley converted a tip-in and senior Bradford Burgess connected on a deep three-pointer, sending the crowd into a frenzy.  VCU extended its advantage to nine points on several occasions but were held without a field goal over the final 6:22 of the opening half. 

Despite 11 first half turnovers, Northeastern registered an 8-0 run to knot the score at 26-26 at the intermission, highlighted by three-pointers from junior Jonathan Lee and guard Joel Smith. 

VCU opened the second half with a 10-2 run, sparked by five points from Burgess, to take a 36-28 lead at the 16:56 mark of the second half.  NU closed to within 40-34 on a three-pointer by Lee but a pair of field goals from beyond the arc by Brandenberg pushed the Rams' advantage to 48-38 with 11:52 remaining in the contest.  VCU would extend its lead to 64-43 at the 7:24 mark as freshman Treveon Graham scored six consecutive points to bring the sellout crowd to its feet.          

A pretty one-handed runner in the lane by Lee with 70 seconds remaining pulled the Huskies to within 71-63 but the Rams hit four free throws down the stretch to advance to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive year.  Graham finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Burgess added 10 points and a pair of steals for VCU, which never trailed in the game and enjoyed an astounding 46-4 advantage in bench scoring. 

Smith and freshman Quincy Ford scored 17 points apiece to lead Northeastern (14-17), which defeated William & Mary (57-49) in opening round action on Friday.  Ford added 11 rebounds for his second double-double effort of the year.  Lee chipped in 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting for the Huskies, who shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the field in the second half. 

VCU has now won 15 of its last 16 contests, with its lone loss coming on a buzzer-beater at George Mason (62-61) on Feb. 14.