The Rams erased a 12-point deficit late in the second half, but ultimately fell short 62-64 to conference-leading No. 12 Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, Mo. on Saturday, Feb. 15.
VCU, which dropped to 8-3 in the Atlantic 10 and 20-6 on the season, shot just 25-65 (38 percent) from the field and 2-16 (13 percent) from three-point range in the loss.
Junior Treveon Graham led the Rams with 16 points and eight rebounds, while senior Juvonte Reddic chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds in the losing effort. Junior Briante Weber contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists, but the Billikens won their 17th straight game behind 21 points and 10 rebounds from senior Dwayne Evans. Senior Jordair Jett added 14 points, six boards and five assists for SLU.
VCU established an early six-point lead midway through the first half; however, the stingy Billikens defense forced the Rams into a handful of contested outside shots, which resulted in several scoreless stints for head coach Shaka Smart’s team. The Rams turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 33-31 lead before VCU relinquished its advantage for good.
Reddic, Weber and Graham led a late charge after falling down double digits with less than five minutes to play, and SLU missed 11 free throws on the game, but a late Rob Loe three pointer helped seal the deal for the Billikens, who improved to 23-2 on the campaign.
VCU, which leads the nation in turnovers forced and steals per game, helped pressure head coach Jim Crews’ team into 17 turnovers on the afternoon, yet the Rams managed to score just 14 points off SLU miscues.
There were nine ties and 12 lead changes in the contest, which came just two weeks before the Billikens will rematch VCU at the Siegel Center on Saturday, March 1.
For the Rams, the immediate schedule doesn’t get much easier. VCU will play the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. on Friday, Feb. 21 before traveling to Fordham University on Feb. 27.