SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CBSLA.com/AP) — Rob Brandenberg scored 19 points as No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth rallied and then fought off several late flurries to beat Long Beach State, 73-67, Friday night in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Rams (4-1) trailed by eight early in the second half before reeling off a 13-0 run to take back control.
VCU had four players in double figures, including Juvonte Reddic with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Briante Webber with 15 points.
Branford Jones led Long Beach State (1-5) with 19 points, and Mike Caffey added 15 in the 49ers’ fifth straight loss.
The 49ers handled VCU’s pressure well at times, committing only 10 turnovers, but they shot just 7 of 19 on 3-pointers.
Where VCU’S defensive pressure failed in the first half, the Rams began to succeed in speeding up the 49ers in the final 20 minutes of the game. It didn’t always produce turnovers, but it did force Long Beach State into quick shots.
A string of misses triggered the 13-0 spurt that put the Rams up 55-50 with under 12 minutes to play.
Long Beach got the lead back at 58-57 on a 3-pointer by A.J. Spencer, but another quick burst by the Rams put them back in front 68-60 with 2:45 remaining.
A 3-pointer from the wing by Jones and another 3 by Caffey with 16.5 seconds left cut it to 72-67.
Long Beach State was aggressive in the opening 20 minutes and led 36-35 at the break. Both teams were up and down the floor in a half that featured nine ties and eight lead changes.
The 49ers weren’t intimidated by the Rams’ pressure and turned it over only three times. VCU was shakier with the ball, with six giveaways.
The Rams were just 14 for 31 from the field, but had five 3s to keep pace.
Long Beach State will return stateside to play Washington in Seattle on Nov. 30.
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