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VCU gets 32 turnovers, rips Western Kentucky 76-44

VCU gets 32 turnovers, rips Western Kentucky 76-44

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) Briante Weber scored 13 points and helped lead a stifling Virginia Commonwealth defense that forced 32 turnovers in a 76-44 rout of Western Kentucky Tuesday night.

The Rams (8-3) won their fifth straight game with suffocating defense against the Hilltoppers (8-4), whose starting backcourt was injured and didn't play. Weber set the night's tone by making a steal on the opening possession and then throwing down a dunk. At halftime, VCU led 42-16.

Western Kentucky had no one score in double figures. George Fant and Kevin Kaspar led the Hilltoppers with 8 points apiece. They badly missed starting guards T.J. Price and Jamal Crook, who are also the team's top two scorers.

Virginia Commonwealth shot 42.4 percent from the floor (28 of 66) while Western Kentucky was just 15 of 42 (34.7 percent). Rob Brandenburg scored 12 points for the Hilltoppers. Treveon Graham added 11 and Juvonte Reddic 10.

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Orioles catcher Bryan Holaday finishes game as pitcher as Orioles blown out by Nationals 15-3

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USA Today Sports Images

Orioles catcher Bryan Holaday finishes game as pitcher as Orioles blown out by Nationals 15-3

After six straight wins led by their offense, the Orioles seemed due for an off night. And they finished it off with catcher Bryan Holaday on the mound.

Holaday was the 17th position player in Orioles history to pitch in a game, and the last since Stevie Wilkerson recorded a save last year against the Angels. But he only entered the game when the score was out of hand. 

The Orioles suffered a blowout loss in the first game of a three-game set against the Nationals on Friday at Camden Yards in a 15-3 loss, the first loss where the team was never in the game in a few weeks. 

Holaday’s finish wasn’t the only unique part of Friday’s game, as Keegan Akin made his major league debut. Akin threw three innings, allowed two hits and three earned runs with one home run allowed. He was sent to the team’s alternate training site at Double-A Bowie after the game.

“I thought he threw the ball really well,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Akin’s debut. “I was really encouraged by how he threw the ball. Really nice life to his fastball, good tempo, he flashed some decent breaking balls. He went out and attacked hitters and I was really impressed with him making his debut tonight and facing a lot of tough hitters for the Washington Nationals and he did a nice job.”

As was a problem throughout the night, however, the Orioles didn’t play good defense. They were credited with just one error, but the defense was more shoddy than that would suggest.

Starting pitcher Tommy Milone threw four innings, allowed nine hits and six runs — but three were unearned as the Orioles fell behind in the second inning and never came back. The Nationals scored in six of their nine offensive innings, including a six run outburst in the eighth inning.

The offense wasn’t much help, as they recorded just six hits compared to the Nationals 19 in a disappointing performance across the board. Anthony Santander slugged a home run in the first inning off Stephen Strasburg, who left with an injury in the inning, but the Orioles were quiet the rest of the night in a dominating defeat.

“I just didn’t think we played well defensively,” Hyde said. “I think we’ve been pretty good for the most part, especially in the infield. Tonight just wasn’t our best night defensively. We just didn’t play very well. So we just chalk this up, try to put this one behind us.”

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Brent Johnson calls for rookie Vitek Vanecek to replace Braden Holtby in goal for struggling Capitals

Brent Johnson calls for rookie Vitek Vanecek to replace Braden Holtby in goal for struggling Capitals

After the 5-2 Game 2 loss to the New York Islanders Friday night in a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series, Rob Carlin asked the Caps Postgame Live crew how they would fix Washington's error-ridden performances seen in the first round so far. 

Brent Johnson knows the pressures that comes with playing in net during the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn't mean he'll sympathize with the end results. As a goaltender for the Capitals for four seasons in the mid-2000s, Johnson has vast experience with the ups and downs that come with the position. But he had a pretty radical answer to Carlin's question: Bench veteran goalie Braden Holtby, the man who helped Washington win a Stanley Cup in 2018, for a rookie who has never played in a regular-season NHL game: Vitek Vanecek. 

"I know how they can shake it up. I know how they can shake it up. Right?" Johnson said. "Vitek Vanecek. Right there. That’s it. Hey. You know what? Bold decision. Bold decision. Do something bold. You never know. I’ve seen it happen in the playoffs thus far."

To call for Washington's veteran netminder to take a seat on the bench for a rookie who hasn't even played in the NHL yet is more than bold. Johnson's proclamation left Carlin yelling "Whoa!" and fellow panelist Al Koken saying he didn't know how to top that one. Alan May simply smiled and shook his head. 

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The Capitals wouldn't be in this position at all had rookie Ilya Samsonov never gotten injured during the long NHL break back home in Russia in an off-ice incident. The 23-year-old had a breakout season for Washington to get in the rotation in what's been an up-and-down year for Holtby. Samsonov had a .913 save percentage and won 16 of his 26 games in net this season. Vanecek, on the other hand, just got called up for the postseason after playing all season for the AHL's Hersey Bears.  

Nonetheless, the Caps have to figure out something to get a spark going for Game 3 against the Isles at noon Sunday. Johnson's solution was by far the most radical suggested, but everyone agreed changes needed to be made or the season could end far sooner than anyone anticipated. 

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