Darius Theus scored his only three field goals of the game in the final 4:45 Friday night, accounting for all Virginia Commonwealth's points in a 7-2 run, and the Rams held on to beat Northern Iowa 77-68.
Bradford Burgess scored 17 and Rob Brandenberg 13 for the Rams (23-6), whose 11-game winning streak was snapped by an off-balance, buzzer-beating 3-pointer against George Mason on Tuesday night. VCU closed with a 13-6 run to improve to 5-3 in BracketBusters contests.
The Panthers (17-12), trying to bounce back from a 63-62 loss to Evansville, got 18 points from Deon Mitchell and 10 from Anthony James. They lost despite shooting 55.6 percent overall (25 of 45) and hitting 9 of 17 3-point shots. VCU was almost as good from deep, hitting 8 of 21.
Theus finished with nine points, six assists and four of VCU's 12 steals.