The third annual VCU Black and Gold game left fans bemused of who to root for, but satisfied at the glimpses of persistent play from their beloved Rams. The Black team went on to defeat the Gold, 85-76.
VCU, under the tutelage of head coach Will Wade, hit the hardwood in the Siegel Center for the first time in the 2015-16 season. The event’s agenda called for an intrasquad scrimmage, autograph signing period and an alumni basketball game.
The team was surprised to receive their A-10 Championship rings to start the evening off, with each player individually called to receive his ring to the ambient applause of the audience. More than 5,000 fans showed up to get a taste of what this year’s team’s offerings in the quest to defend their Atlantic 10 Championship.
The Black team, in what looks like the potential starting lineup for the season, saw seniors, Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury, juniors Jequan Lewis and Mo Alie-Cox, and sophomore Justin Tillman take the court first. The Gold team’s starters consisted of juniors Doug Brooks and Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed, sophomores Mike Gilmore, Doug Brooks and Jonathan Williams to go alongside freshman Samir Doughty.
Johnson started the game off with a with a three-point jump shot from the corner to give the Black squad the early lead. The Gold team started off strong, impressing the crowd after a Hamdy-Mohamed and-one put-back, giving the Gold team the 8-6 lead with 16:19 remaining in the first half.
Gilmore would cash in three of his impressive 13 points to silence the Black squad’s run 25-15 with 7:40 remaining. Unfortunately for the Gold, the Black team always seemed to have an answer as Alie-Cox had an emphatic slam to put to rest Gilmore’s three and extend the lead to 13.
Billbury, an Oral Roberts University transfer, controlled the game on the offensive end with his ability to drive on smaller defenders and finish at the rim. Billbury extended the Black squads lead 31-21 with a step back three-pointer with 3:46 remaining in the first half. The Black squad would increase the lead going into the half 41-23.
The second half opened with a Williams runner off the glass, lifting his arms to ignite the intensity of the Gold team. Gilmore adhered to Williams’ message and connected on another three-point attempt to cut the lead to 48-30 with 17:58 remaining. Billbury (17 points) connected with Tillman (18 points) on a sweet alley-oop assist, extending the Black squad’s lead to 55-33 with 13:25 left in the game.
The Gold team made a late run with the full court press, creating Black squad turnovers. Hamdy-Mohamed (10 points) cut the lead to an 11 point difference after another and-one finish with three minutes remaining, but all was too late. After a half-court heave at the buzzer went in for junior Torey Burston, the entire team rushed toward him as the game concluded with a Black squad victory.
The flow of the game remained fast-paced, sloppy at times, but crisp overall.
Johnson led all scorers with 22 points on an efficient shooting afternoon. Teammate Alie-Cox contributed 15 points, but the defining characteristics of his play were his relentless abandon on the boards and blocked shots in the paint. Gilmore was the surprise of the game with his sweet shooting stroke and consistency on the offensive glass, providing the Gold squad a legitimate scoring threat around the rim.
Notables participating in the alumni game were Final Four players Ed Nixon, Joey Rodriguez, Darius Theus and a guest appearance from Larry Sanders, the for-now retired NBA athlete.
VCU opens the season at the Stu on Nov. 13 against Prairie View University.
Sports Editor, Bryant Drayton
Bryant is a sports advocate who’s always smiling. He is a senior print and online journalism major aspiring for a career as a professional or college football columnist. Bryant currently covers high school football games for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
Staff Photographer, Julie Tripp
Julie is a junior majoring in photography with a minor in media studies. She is pursuing a career in photojournalism and is taking the spring semester to study photography in Bristol, England. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Portfolio
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