Men’s BBall back on track

Alonzo Small
Sports Editor

Against George Washington University, junior guard Melvin Johnson was the team’s leading scorer with 17 points in the 79-66 win on Feb. 14. Photo by Julie Tripp.

Five Rams scored in double figures to help the men’s basketball team get back in the win column on Saturday, Feb. 14, ending George Washington University’s home game winning streak in the process.

In a game that saw a more balanced offensive attack, junior guard Melvin Johnson got back to his scoring dominance, registering 17 points to be the team’s leading scorer. Sophomore guard Doug Brooks had a career-high 14 point coming  off the bench while sophomore guard JeQuan Lewis and redshirt-sophomore forward Mo Alie-Cox added 10 each. Senior guard Treveon Graham, who has been battling a lingering ankle injury, also played finishing with 10 points. Freshman guard Jonathan Williams would also have his best game of the season, scoring nine points.

Entering the game against George Washington, the Rams’ underclassmen played 79 percent of the minutes. In addition, the team was reeling coming off consecutive close losses. Entering the break against George Washington, both teams found themselves in another close game, tied at 38-38.

The Rams would answer with a second half rally that saw the team eventually pull away. A 10-1 run would put the Rams up by double-digits and the Rams would  hold on to win 79-66, and improve to 19-6 on the season.

The game was a response to the team’s sixth loss of the season suffered against La Salle University. A career-high 26 points by Lewis was not enough, as the shorthanded Rams fell to La Salle University, 74-69 on Wednesday, Feb. 11, resulting in the teams’ third home loss of the season.

Men’s basketball dominance at the Siegel Center has suffered a hit along with the team’s roster. With senior guard Briante Weber out, Graham continued to nurse an ankle injury and did not play against the Exploders. Individuals stepped up in light of the senior duo’s setback, but none more so than Lewis who had seen his best three-game stretch as a scorer since joining VCU last year, averaging almost 18 points per game.

In a game that went to double overtime, Lewis scored 26 points in 37 minutes of play, but the real story of the game was the Rams’ poor field goal percentage which saw the team go 22 for 73 (30 percent) from the floor. The shots did not fall, especially the three-pointers, resulting in the Rams going cold from beyond the arc, making three of 23 attempts all game (13 percent). The Rams did not make a three-point basket in the first half going 0 for 8 on attempts. The Rams held La Salle to one made field goal in the last seven minutes of the game, but the made field goal allowed the team to reach overtime.

In the first overtime period, Lewis scored all eight of the team’s points. In the second overtime period, the Rams were not able to overcome the early deficit, though the team tried to foul to stay in the game. La Salle would make their free throws down the stretch to seal the victory, 74-69.

The Rams return home after suffering the rare home loss to face Saint Louis University on Feb. 17 and University of Massachusetts on Feb. 21.

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