Men’s basketball against La Salle

VCU men’s basketball lead from tip to buzzer in a 90-52 shellacking of the conference-leading Explorers of La Salle University (5-1, 11-5) at the Stuart C. Siegel Center Sunday afternoon.

Senior starting point guard JeQuan Lewis finished with 15 points and shot an efficient 9 of 13 from the floor. Lewis said his team was well aware of how much they needed this win at home after two consecutive losses on the road.

“We wanted to come out aggressive,” Lewis said. “We had to turn the page. Everybody was pretty upset in the locker room after Fordham. This was a statement game.”

Redshirt-freshman guard Samir Doughty and senior guard Doug Brooks both started for the first time this year as coach Will Wade looked to add an offensive spark. Lewis, junior forward Justin Tillman and redshirt-senior forward Mo Alie-Cox rounded out the VCU starting five.  

The Rams desperation was evident early on. After the sides traded a slew of stops to open the game, Doughty drew first blood with a three pointer from the wing, and the Black and Gold were off and running.

Senior forward Ahmed Hamdy sparked the early onslaught off the bench with dominant post play. Hamdy finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double in three games. He received a standing ovation from the crowd when he exited for the final time in the second half, and earned praise from coach Wade in the post-game press conference.

“Hamdy has been playing extremely well,” Wade said. “He’s really communicating a lot better on defense and doing what we need him to do down low.”

VCU put the game away with a 19-0 run with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Lewis found senior forward Jordan Burgess in the corner in front of the VCU bench with 6:25 on the clock. Burgess connected for three, and a subsequent La Salle turnover led to a Lewis three pointer from the wing, and the lead ballooned to 25-14.

Lewis punctuated the run with two more threes and a jumper just inside the arc at the top of the key. The dominant performance allowed coach Wade to rest his star guard for much of the second half.

A Hamdy rejection led to a Doughty drive and dish to Tillman, who converted the lay in with three minutes remaining in the half to stretch the advantage to 38-16. La Salle hit a couple free throws just before halftime to finally break the run, but junior guard Jonathan Williams kept the momentum going when he found Tillman for an emphatic transition dunk just as the buzzer sounded. The Black and Gold took a commanding 42-16 lead into halftime.

Despite their comfortable advantage, the Rams did not let up in the second period. Brooks procured a steal on the first possession of the half, one of his six on the day. Lewis then rewarded his fellow senior guard by driving the lane and collapsing the defense, only to kick the ball out for a Brooks corner three.

A handful of second half three-pointers from La Salle starting forward Jordan Price was the only offense the Explorers were able to generate all afternoon. VCU befuddled their conference foes with a consistent mixture of stifling man and disciplined zone defense.

Senior guard and fan favorite Torey Burston checked into the game with three minutes to go, and sent the Siegel Center faithful into one last frenzy with a drive and lay in as the game came to a close.

VCU finished with five players in double-figures. In addition to Lewis and Hamdy, Burgess poured in 10, Doughty scored 15 and Tillman led the way with 16. Brooks and Williams also contributed with 9 and 8, respectively.

Despite the dominant performance, coach Wade said after the game his men have no time to relax.

“We certainly needed to get back on the right track today,” Wade said. “La Salle had been playing as well as anybody in our league. Our guys were ready to go. This doesn’t do anything for us on Friday, though. Our backs are against the wall for awhile now. This is no reprieve — there’s no exhale.”

“We gotta carry it over into the next one Friday,” Lewis said. “I think my troops will be ready to go.”         

Davidson/Fordham

Following a season-high eight game winning streak, VCU was brought back down to earth last week with consecutive conference losses at Davidson College and Fordham University.

Davidson (9-8, 2-4) downed the Rams by a final score of 69-63 on Jan. 14 at the John M. Belk Arena.

The Wildcats were lead by the dynamic duo of senior guard Jack Gibbs and junior forward Peyton Aldridge, who combined for a whopping 54 points. Lewis led the Black and Gold with 17.

VCU shot a mere 40.4 percent from the field, their lowest figure in the past 10 games, and 3 of 17 from beyond the arc.  

“You can’t let one loss turn into two,” Wade said to the Richmond Times-Dispatch after the game. “I think we’re going to respond the right way. We’ve got good mettle to us.”

The Rams resiliency showed later in the week at Fordham, despite falling 69-67.

VCU overcame a sluggish start to push the game to overtime. A last-second jumper from Antwoine Anderson gave the “other” Rams a nail biting victory.

Fordham, ranked third in the country in opponent turnovers, applied constant on-ball pressure, forcing VCU to commit a season-high 22 turnovers.       

“We’ve got to get ourselves better and get ourselves right and then we’ll focus on La Salle,” Wade said. “If we clean up the turnovers and a couple of the defensive errors, we can be really good. And we’ve been that at times this year.”
The Rams will have to recalibrate with all haste, as a defining stretch of conference matchups looms. The two teams ahead of VCU (15-5, 5-2) in the A-10 standings are also the Black and Gold’s next two opponents — Dayton University (14-4, 5-1) and the University of Richmond (11-7, 5-1).       


EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Sarah King. Photo by Julie TrippSarah King
Sarah is a senior studying political science and philosophy of law. She is also a copyeditor for INK Magazine and a reporter for the Capital News Service wire. Last spring, the Virginia Press Association awarded Sarah 3rd place for Public Safety Writing Portfolio and the Hearst Awards awarded her 4th place for Breaking News Writing. Sarah was invited to the White House in April for the Administration’s innaugural College Reporter Day. She previously worked as an editorial intern forCongressional Quarterly Researcher and SAGE Business Researcher in Washington, D.C., as well as RVAmag and GayRVA.com.
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | [email protected]

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply