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Pride can't contain VCU's Sanders, Rodriguez

If this were a meeting, Hofstra would barely have had enough for a quorum. The Pride was down to seven players and it would have taken a committee of about that size to contain Virginia Commonwealth's Larry Sanders, whose 7-7 wingspan is said to be the largest in NCAA basketball.

Sanders, a 6-11 center, really spread his wings with a career-high 31 points. What's more, he spread misery for Hofstra, which lost at home, 81-68, last night and stumbled for the sixth time in the past eight games.

Hofstra would have had to play just about perfectly to keep up. VCU used 11 players in the first half, and it seemed like it was doing so just to rub it in. In the second half, the visitors made it a point to get the ball to Sanders whenever they could. The basketball neophyte (he didn't play much growing up in Fort Pierce, Fla., because he said he was too gangly to be good at "street ball") scored 22 of his points after halftime.

"I knew they were short of players," said Sanders, who surely impressed NBA scouts who watched him return from a suspension following a flagrant foul Jan. 6. "The more I ran, the more they would have to catch up with me."

The Pride never did. The Pride couldn't stop his emphatic dunks and couldn't contain VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez, who had 21 points, six assists and two steals. "That's a pretty good line," Hofstra coach Tom Pecora said after his team fell to 9-9, 2-4 in the CAA.

Hofstra didn't have anyone with a line like that; Charles Jenkins scored 23 points, was only 7-for-18 from the field and wasn't much of a factor. "Coach has been around for a while and what he says goes," the Pride guard said. "We didn't do what he said tonight. As a leader, I'm disappointed in myself."

Disappointment was a running theme for the Pride, which didn't have enough running players. Pecora again cited a recurring problem, lack of energy (noting that Hofstra earned only 12 trips to the line, as opposed to VCU's 30). It didn't help that the most potent bundle of energy, guard Chaz Williams, was out with an ankle sprain, as was David Imes.

Pecora still believed the Pride had enough to win a home game. "Seven players isn't an excuse," he said. "I've seen teams go to the Final Four playing seven players. Excuses only satisfy the people who make them."

Instead of excuses, he promises that Hofstra will make more of an effort, starting at practice Wednesday. "At some point, we'll get our mojo back and we'll get on a run," he said.

Last night, though, it didn't have a run, or a reach good enough to stop Sanders.

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