BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The VCU men’s basketball team defeated the University of Richmond 71-53 in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Friday.
Junior guard Briante Weber scored the first six points of the game and the Rams never looked back, leading by as many as 24 in the second half.
Weber led all scorers with 18 points, and VCU scored 21 points off 14 Richmond turnovers on the evening.
After the game, head coach Shaka Smart said his point guard was key in setting the tone early on.
“Bri (Weber) gave us a terrific lift early on offensively,” Smart said. “He put the ball in the basket a lot, which we’ll take whenever we can get it. I thought that gave us momentum early and then we were able to get defensive stops to extend the lead.”
After out-rebounding Richmond by a total of four in two regular season matchups, the Rams grabbed 22 more boards than the Spiders on Friday, including 20 on the offensive glass.
Junior Treveon Graham pitched in 14 points and tallied six rebounds in the winning effort, while freshman ShawnDré Jones led Richmond with 18 points off the bench.
Redshirt freshman Mo Alie-Cox played 25 key minutes for the Rams, many of which after senior Juvonte Reddic picked up his fourth foul just more than three minutes into the second half. Cox provided Smart with seven points, 10 rebounds and two blocks off the bench.
Smart said Cox’s performance Friday only showed a sliver of his potential.
“He’s just scratching the surface,” he said. “I thought he was really big in affecting Kendall Anthony around the basket. Even though he was credited for two blocks, I think he affected a lot more shots than that. Just the tip of the iceberg for (Cox). We just got to keep instilling confidence in him.”
Sophomore Melvin Johnson — a Brooklyn, N.Y. native — contributed 13 points off the bench, and knocked down three of eight three-point attempts.
After the game, Johnson said the VCU-heavy crowd played a great role in his success.
“I think they filled one-third of the arena, and we’re just fortunate to have great fan support,” he said. “Three balls (three-point baskets) go and they get crazy. That’s demoralizing for the other team knowing that it feels like a home game for us.”
VCU will play the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal contest between George Washington University and the University of Massachusetts on Saturday at 4 p.m.