Sophia Belletti, Staff writer
The George Washington University snapped VCU’s 12-game win streak in nail biting fashion, handing the Rams their first conference loss, 72-69.
“These games come down to two or three possessions, and we didn’t win those two or three possessions today,” said VCU’s Head Coach Will Wade.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, missing conventional scoring opportunities.
VCU shot 35.3 percent from the field while GW shot 42.3 percent.
“(The streak) is over, we just have to get ready for the next game,” said junior point guard JeQuan Lewis. “No need to hold our heads. We played hard, but we gave up a lot of second-chance points, which hurt us.”
Lewis lead the Rams in both scoring and assists with 16-and-five.
VCU played tight defense, forcing GW to shield away from contested shots, ultimatley forcing the Colonials to attempt 12 3-pointers in the first half only connecting on five.
Both squads stayed within a couple points of each other for the entire half. The Rams entered the locker room with a two-point edge at 31-29.
VCU’s momentum was anything but slow starting the second period. GW began the second half with two points on the first possession. Lewis responded with two 3-pointers and a layup. Billbury added to the fire with a 3-pointer of his own. Before the Colonials knew it, VCU was up 42-33.
GW, using run-outs after VCU missed and a hot hand from GW senior Patricio Garino, answered with a 7-0 spurt of its own to make it a two-point game.
“I think we came with the right mentality,” Garino said. “We knew that this team was definitely beatable for us. We’ve never won here before and that was something that we really wanted to accomplish today.”
Garino went 4-7 from behind the arc and led the Colonials in scoring with 27 points.
VCU pushed ahead by six, but the Rams turned the ball over twice. VCU forced a tough shot that missed at the buzzer, but VCU’s defense stood around and watched GW grab the rebound for a second-chance shot. Garino again capitalized on a VCU turnover, connecting from three with 3:35 remaining.
After the Rams regained the lead, GW connected on a tough jumper in the lane. VCU turned the ball over and GW senior Joe McDonald found himself all alone for a 3-pointer that made it 71-69 with 1:12 left to play.
Lewis then drove the lane and missed with a minute left in regulation. Luckily for the Rams, McDonald’s layup ended in the same fashion.
With 10 seconds left, the final timeout was called. Leaving just enough time for VCU to go for the win or even overtime — neither to their avail.
Senior guard Melvin Johnson missed a 3-pointer from the corner and senior guard Korey Billbury couldn’t convert as he attempted a put-back after a wide open offensive rebound. McDonald was fouled with 0.5 seconds left and made the game sealing free throw.
Although VCU out-rebounded GW 20-16 in the second half, they still allowed 13 second chance points.
“We had a hard time finishing at the rim,” Wade said. “Our second half defense gave up a lot of easy shots. We’ve got to get back, get better and tighten the screws on a couple of things.”
Johnson, junior Mo Alie-Cox and junior Doug Brooks finished with 12 points each. Billbury lead the team in rebounding with nine.
Johnson moved past Troy Daniels ’13 (251) and into sole possession of second place on VCU’s career 3-pointers list with 258. He needs 12 3’s to surpass B.A. Walker ’07 (269) and become VCU’s all-time leader.
VCU defeats La Salle 88-70
VCU handed La Salle their 7th straight loss Wednesday night when the Rams traveled to Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. Johnson poured in 30 points and made 8-13 3-pointers, for an 88-70 victory.
The victory over the Explorers extended the winning streak to 12 straight games at the time. Only Stony Brook University had a longer active winning streak among men’s Division 1 teams with 14.
The Rams found trouble early when Lewis was charged with his second foul just four minutes into the first half, forcing him to spend the rest of the half on the pine.
Wade and the Rams looked to sophomore backup point guard Jonathan Williams to step up — and he did. The Richmond native scored a career high 14 points, shooting 6-6 from the floor in 15 minutes of action.
“I just tried to make smarter decisions instead of just trying to bulldoze my way to the rim,” Williams said. “I was trying to get change of directions, change of speeds and make them adjust to me.”
VCU led 22-18 when Johnson began to heat up. The senior from the Bronx hit four of his 3-pointers in the final 6:03 of the period, including one to beat the first half buzzer, igniting a 22-10 run that gave the Rams a 44-28 halftime lead.
Thanks to Johnson’s sharp shooting in the first half, the Rams were able to secure a victory. VCU was still finding more open shots on the floor, but La Salle scored 42 points in the second half while VCU scored 44.
Sophomore Justin Tillman had another successful evening for the Rams, hitting all five of his field goal attempts and finishing with 13 points. Brooks, Billbury and Lewis all added eight points respectively to give the Rams a double figure lead.
42 of VCU’s 88 points came from the bench, with Billbury leading the team in rebounds with seven. Of La Salle’s 17 turnovers, VCU used those opportunities to convert 29 points.
“It was just a collective effort,” Wade said. “Our bench spirit was great. Everybody was into it. That’s what you’ve got to have when you come on the road in these type of environments.”
Staff Writer, Sophia Belletti
Sophia is a sophomore print/online journalism major with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter, covering soccer, basketball and baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn