Junior Treveon Graham scored a career-high 34 points and senior Rob Brandenberg hit two clutch three-pointers as the VCU men’s basketball team secured its second straight conference road win with an improbable 97-89 double overtime victory at La Salle University on Saturday.
The Rams needed a late rally and a Graham layup in the closing seconds of regulation to force overtime, but VCU escaped Philadelphia, Penn. with its eighth victory in nine games.
With the win, head coach Shaka Smart’s team improved to 4-1 in the Atlantic 10 and 16-4 overall on the season.
It was an unusual victory for the Rams, who recorded just five steals — all courtesy of junior guard Briante Weber — and notched only nine bench points in the winning effort.
VCU came out aggressive and opened an 11-point lead in the first half before the Explorers trimmed it to four at halftime. From there, La Salle took advantage of several second-half VCU miscues to take a double-digit lead into the final minutes of regulation.
But the Rams’ full-court pressure forced a couple of key turnovers and Smart relied on Graham down the stretch to pull VCU even at 73 heading into the first extra period.
Five additional minutes wasn’t enough to separate the two A-10 teams, but Brandenberg knocked down back-to-back three-pointers in the second overtime to give the Rams some breathing room.
Despite shooting just 68 percent from the free throw line as a team, a couple of Rams, including Weber and Graham, converted in the waning moments to seal VCU’s 16th victory of the season.
Graham and senior forward Juvonte Reddic combined for 61 points and 27 rebounds, while La Salle senior Tyrone Garland poured in 30 of his own for the Explorers.
The win against La Salle came just three days after VCU downed Dayton University by double digits in Ohio. Wednesday’s 80-66 win against the Flyers was arguably VCU’s most impressive and complete performance of the season.
The Rams used a barrage of early three-pointers to grab a nine-point halftime lead before turning up the defensive pressure in the second half.
Weber and Reddic contributed 18 points apiece — most of which came after halftime — and head coach Shaka Smart’s team scored 28 points off of 18 Flyer turnovers en route to a decisive road win.
Dayton came into the contest having lost just two home games all year, but the Rams shot 49 percent from the field, 38 percent from three and 85 percent from the free throw line on the evening, while tallying an impressive 19 assists on 30 field goals.
For Reddic, it was his highest scoring output since the senior dropped 24 against Old Dominion University on Dec. 8.
Up next for VCU is Fordham at home on Wednesday, Jan. 29. The Rams will be seeking their 10th consecutive win at the Siegel Center before opening up February with a home game against the University of Richmond Spiders.