Guard Rob Brandenberg scored 18 points to lead the No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams to a 73-67 victory over the Long Beach State 49ers on Friday night in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Four players scored in double figures for the Rams (4-1), who rallied to win after suffering their first loss Thursday against Florida State in the tournament's opening round. Guard Juvonte Reddic had 17 points and eight rebounds.
Guard Branford Jones scored 19 points to lead Long Beach State (1-5), which lost its fifth in a row.
The Rams and 49ers exchanged leads a number of times in the opening half. Long Beach State went up 11-8 on a 17-foot jumper by Jones less than 5 minutes into the half, but Brandenberg made a 3-pointer to put VCU up 20-16 with 10:53 to play in the period. The 49ers led 36-33 after Jones connected on another jumper with 28.6 seconds left, but Reddic answered with 1.8 seconds to play, cutting the deficit to one at the break.
Long Beach State extended its lead to eight early in the second half, going ahead 50-42 on a jumper by Jones with 14:39 remaining. That is when the Rams responded, mounting a 13-0 run spurred by Brandenberg and Reddic, who made a layup to give his team a 55-50 lead with 9:30 to go. The 49ers regained the lead at 58-57 moments later on a 3-pointer by A.J. Spencer, but the Rams pulled away with an 11-2 run over the next five minutes.