Virginia Commonwealth beats BU, reaches CBI final

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP)—Bradford Burgess scored 20 points and Virginia Commonwealth advanced to the championship series of the College Basketball Invitational by beating Boston University 88-75 on Wednesday night.

Larry Sanders added 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Rams (25-9), who took control with a 9-0 spurt to start the second half.

“In the second half, we forced them to our tempo,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “It’s enjoyable to still be playing. … An opportunity to get better.”

The Rams will play Saint Louis, coached by Rick Majerus, in the best-of-3 championship round beginning Monday.

“We have the opportunity to make adjustments,” Smart said. “It’s unique for me. I don’t know if any of us have experienced it.”

Burgess also was looking forward to the unusual championship format.

“It feels like I’m in the NBA,” he said.

Joey Rodriguez had 19 points and five assists, joining Eric Maynor as the only Virginia Commonwealth players to accumulate 200 assists in a season. The Rams have beaten eight 20-win teams this season.

Jake O’Brien scored 20 points to pace the Terriers (21-14), who led 43-42 at halftime. Tyler Morris and John Holland added 16 apiece.

BU missed its first six field-goal attempts in the second half as the Rams opened with a 21-8 run. They built a 15-point cushion and never trailed again.

“They picked up their intensity,” first-year BU coach Patrick Chambers said. “VCU is very talented and deep.”

Virginia Commonwealth’s pressing defense forced 17 turnovers.

“They pressed in the first half and we handled it, but they wore us down,” Chambers said. “They knew we only play seven people.”

There were four ties and 14 lead changes in the first half, and neither team led by more than five points. Holland sent the Terriers into the locker room with a lead by hitting a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left. Virginia Commonwealth did not have a field goal in the final 3:11 of the half.

After allowing seven 3s in the first half, VCU emphasized perimeter defense after the break.

“Coach talked to us at halftime and we had high hands and affected their shots,” Sanders said.

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