Rams denied vengeance in double-overtime thriller

Alonzo Small
Sports Editor

In a game with as many plot twists and turns as there was momentum shifts, the University of Richmond outlasted VCU 67-63, on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in a double-overtime thriller to sweep the season-series.

After the Rams were down as much as 16 points in the game, junior guard Melvin Johnson hit a three that cut the deficit to three with: 33 seconds remaining in regulation. Thirty seconds later, a deep three-pointer by the senior guard Treveon Graham would ensure the Rams an extra period. In the second overtime, the Rams would be on the receiving end of last second heroics as the inbound pass to Richmond’s redshirt-sophomore forward T.J. Kline pushed the game to a second overtime. Ultimately the Spiders would prevail in double overtime to sweep the season-series for the first time since 2001.

The tale of the first half was the Rams never finding their rhythm as U of R maintained the offensive edge early. U of R went on a 13-5 run to start and would extend their lead to double-digits with less than 10 minutes to play (20-10).

Much like the first half of their previous encounter, the Rams could not find their shot as head coach Shaka Smart’s team went 1-10 for three and 8-25 shooting overall. Still, the Rams only trailed by nine entering the break, 29-20.

The tale of the second half was the Rams endless pursuit to overtake the lead. A double-digit deficit turned into a one-possession game off Johnson’s left corner three with: 33 seconds remaining. It was only Johnson’s second made basket of the game.

The next possession, redshirt-sophomore forward Mo Alie-Cox intercepted the inbound pass, giving the Rams a chance to tie.

After a first attempt by Graham was missed, two missed free-throws by Richmond senior guard Kendall Anthony gave the Rams another opportunity. Sophomore guard JeQuan Lewis would be rejected under the basket but VCU would regain possession with: 06.8 seconds remaining.

The Freight Train would once again become Mr. Clutch hitting a deep three-pointer for VCU’s first tie of the game.

“Great job by VCU,” Richmond head coach Chris Mooney said. “VCU forced overtime with a great shot by a great player.”

Richmond would miss a last second heave that touched every bit of the rim the ensuing possession, sending the game to overtime.

A three-pointer by sophomore guard ShawnDre’ Jones put the Spiders on the board first in overtime. Graham would respond with two, moments later to cut the deficit to one, 55-54. A Graham miss turned into a put back dunk by Alie-Cox to put the Rams up one, 56-55 with 1:12 left to play in the game. After trading possession with no success, a rebound by Johnson would send him to the line, where he would make both free-throws. Up three, 58-55, the Rams chose to foul Jones, sending him to the line.

After making the first, a miss on second would cause a scramble for the rebound which resulted in a Richmond possession. An inbound pass to Kline pushed the game to second overtime.

“You never feel like you have the game until it’s over,” Smart said.

In the second overtime, the Spiders continued their momentum swing. After going up three, Graham was called for an offensive foul driving to the basket, denying him a three-point play opportunity with under two minutes remaining.

Graham would get to the line once more with :11 seconds remaining in the game, splitting free-throws to bring the game within two, 65-63. VCU’s next basket would tie or win the game; however, the storybook ending was denied as Graham’s  layup attempt was blocked in the closing seconds. Two-free throws later would end the Rams’ comeback attempt, falling to the Spiders 67-63.

With an 11-4 conference record, VCU remains atop the division in a four-way tie with University of Dayton, Davidson College and University of Rhode Island.

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