Friday , Mar , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Maynor, VCU topple Duke in thriller

Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) – Eric Maynor nailed a jumper from the top of the
key with under two seconds remaining as Virginia Commonwealth toppled Duke,
79-77, to hand the Blue Devils their first loss in the opening round of the
NCAA Tournament since 1996.

The contest was physical throughout and very close down the stretch, with
DeMarcus Nelson slicing through the lane and making a layup with 12 ticks on
the clock to pull Duke even at 77-77.

Maynor took control on the ensuing possession, however, and quickly pulled up
just beyond the free-throw stripe for a jumper that swished through.

Greg Paulus put up a desperation heave as time expired, but the ball clanked
harmlessly off the backboard to give VCU the win.

“We hope that everything that you do that does not work out will be a source
of motivation,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Our kids have always
wanted to get better. An experience like this hurts, when you lose in the last
few seconds after playing so hard all game its not an easy thing to forget and
you should use it as a motivation to get better.”

Maynor also had eight assists while Jesse Pellot-Rosa and Jamal Shuler
finished with 14 points each for the Colonial Athletic Association-champion
Rams (28-6), who move on to play Pittsburgh in the second round.

Paulus finished with a career-best 25 points while Josh McRoberts posted 22
points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for Duke (22-11), which had made nine
straight Sweet 16 appearances heading into this showdown. This was an usual
season for the sixth-seeded Blue Devils, though, as they drew their lowest
seed since heading into the 1996 tourney with the eighth spot.

Just as it had in the opening stanza, No. 11 VCU dug out of an 11-point hole
midway through the second half to set up a thrilling finish. The key sequence
started with about seven minutes remaining, when B.A. Walker and Pellot-Rosa
teamed up for back-to-back threes to trim Duke’s lead to one.

Neither team was able to gain a significant edge the rest of the way thanks in
large part to Maynor and Paulus, who both kept coming up with big plays for
their respective teams. After the two guards exchanged buckets, McRoberts and
Pellot-Rosa each went 1-for-2 from the line on successive trips to make it
77-75, VCU, with 16 seconds left. Nelson then converted his layup try before
Maynor’s heroics.

“He mad a good move, checked the clock, made sure he had enough time and made
a tough shot,” Paulus said. “John (Scheyer) did a good job contesting the
shot, but he made a nice play and deserves credit for that.”

It was the end to a comeback bid that the Rams had to execute twice in this

The Blue Devils used an 11-0 surge early on to erase a two-point deficit and
assume a 14-5 lead.

The Duke advantage stood at 11 with 8:26 on the clock after a Gerald Henderson
jumper, but VCU quickly fought back into the game. The Rams responded by
scoring the next eight points, including a pair of Maynor free throws that
brought his team within three at 28-25.

Minutes later, Shuler drained a three to knot the contest at 38 apiece. Paulus
was fouled behind the arc with three seconds left and made two-of-three from
the line, though, to give Duke a two-point edge at the break.

Game Notes

This was the first ever meeting between the Blue Devils and Rams on the
hardwood…Michael Anderson and Walker had 10 points each for the Rams…Duke
shot 41 percent from the field in the second half compared to 54 percent in
the first half, while VCU improved from 36 percent to 50 percent.