Rams dominate with three straight home wins

Photo by Brooke Marsh
Sophomore forward Justin Tillman dunks on U of R at Friday’s game. VCU beat the Spiders 87-74. Photo by Brooke Marsh

With the support from a gold-out themed Siegel Center, the Rams defeated University of Richmond 87-74 on Friday.

VCU welcomed the Richmond Spiders into the city for the second meeting of the season between the two cross-town rivals. In the last match-up, VCU squeezed out a victory in what was a hard fought overtime victory.

The Rams opened the game with a stifling full-court press to keep the Spiders from getting their offensive sets going early. Both teams had problems defensively, scoring was going back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the first half.

The bulk of the Rams’ offensive contributions came from the bench. Junior forward Justin Tillman scored 15 points in the first half, shooting 7-10 from the field, while Jordan Burgess scored 11, shooting 3-4 from downtown.

Tillman was extremely active early, with prolific dunks and a strong defensive presence. Richmond never held the lead in the first half, but the Spiders were able to keep it close. A T.J. Cline buzzer-beater from just inside half-court cut VCU’s lead to four going into the half 42-38.

At the start of the second half, senior guard Melvin Johnson hit a deep three and began a 14-2 run for the Rams that would end up being the most important stretch of the game. Johnson would tie B.A. Walker (2007 alum) for VCU’s all-time leading 3-point list with 269.

The catalyst to VCU’s success in the second half was their ability to out-rebound Richmond 41-21. This created second chance opportunities en route to a 17-point lead with a little over eight minutes left in regulation.

With five minutes remaining, the Spiders were able to cut the lead to 10 but VCU responded with three straight 3-pointers from Johnson and Burgess to officially put the game away.

Junior JeQuan Lewis scored 13 points and dropped off 10 assists, registering a double-double. Senior guard Mo Alie-Cox also registered a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Alie-Cox felt the rebounding was the deciding factor in the win.

“Attacking the glass was important man,” said Alie-Cox. “We killed them on the boards last time, and this time they tried to match up with our small lineup, which was a mistake. We were just out there working together.”

Johnson led all scorers with 20 points. The sharp-shooter can add one more tally to his billboard on I-64, with VCU selling out its 82nd consecutive home contest.

“I set two goals this year; to lead the team to numerous victories and to break the 3-point record,” Johnson said. “To be number one at a school like this in any statistical category is big time. God willing, I make one more over these next few games. It’ll be great.”

Another sellout crowd came out to see the Rams take on Rhode Island in what ended up being another great night for the VCU faithful. VCU defeated RIU 83-67 in a game where the score doesn’t reflect the ease with which VCU controlled throughout the game.

VCU shot 53 percent from the field, making for back-to-back games going over 50 percent. Johnson had another big night, scoring 19 points and dropping off four assists. Senior guard Korey Billbury scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. Head coach Will Wade was proud of his team’s performance throughout.

“Big Mo was good, the young guys were great and I’ve got lot of faith in them,” said Wade. “Hamdy looked good out there. For the most part some of our guys just needed opportunity and tonight we played well as a team.

The Rams now stand 20-7 (12-2) in the Atlantic 10. VCU returns to action on Feb. 24, when they travel to take on George Mason University.

Marcus Blackwell, Contributing Writer

Check out the photos from Friday’s game against U of R below


Photo Editor, Brooke Marsh

Brooke Marsh, photo by Brooke MarshBrooke is a senior pursuing a BFA in photography & film and a minor in media studies. Prior to her role as Photo Editor, Brooke was a staff photographer for the CT. Brooke’s work has been featured at a number of exhibitions and she previously interned at Candela Gallery in Richmond. Brooke has experience photographing for news, sports and entertainment. // Twitter | Facebook | Portfolio



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