Evans, Santos-Silva lead Rams to comfortable win ahead of grueling stretch

Junior guard Mike'l Simms dropped 11 points against Iona, including a trio of three point field goals in the first half. Photo by Jon Mirador

Men’s Basketball made quick work of Iona Saturday in advance of a season-defining stretch in which the Rams will play at No. 17 Texas and at No. 4 Virginia before hosting a pair of NCAA Tournament participants from last season, Charleston and Wichita State.

Redshirt-junior wing Issac Vann had 7 points and 3 assists against the Gaels. Photo by Jon Mirador

The Black and Gold routed the Gaels 88-59 behind 19 from redshirt-junior guard Marcus Evans and 12 from sophomore forward Marcus Santos-Silva, who finished one rebound shy of a double-double. Redshirt-sophomore forward Corey Douglas and junior guard Mike’l Simms joined them in double figures with 11 each. 11 VCU players scored in the contest.

“It’s a really good win for us going into these next couple games,” Santos-Silva said.

VCU has held a lead at the break in every game so far this season, including its two losses to Old Dominion and St. John’s. The Rams reversed their fortunes after halftime against the Gaels, out-scoring Iona 42-32 despite playing with a comfortable lead.  

“We were talking about it that, second half wise, we hadn’t put together a full 40 yet,” Evans said. “We can’t keep playing like that. We made an effort today, after the first half, to come out and keep the same intensity.”

Assistant coach Jamal Brunt echoed Evans, saying head coach Mike Rhoades had emphasized the need for a stronger second half mentality following the Rams’ loss at ODU in which they were outscored 42-20 in the second period.

“Great night for our guys, I think we played a full 40 minutes and that’s something coach Rhoades had really harped on,” Brunt said.

VCU jumped out to an 11-0 lead against Iona and never looked back. Douglas hit a three from the left wing to open the scoring, and the Black and Gold were off and running. A trio of treys from Simms highlighted the first half onslaught, as the Rams took a 46-27 lead into halftime.

The Gaels never came close to leading the contest, and VCU converted 23 Iona turnovers into 27 points in what Evans called his team’s most complete performance of the season thus far.

VCU forced 23 Iona turnovers. Redshirt-sophomore forward Corey Douglas had 11 points and 3 blocks. Photo by Jon Mirador

The dominant win bodes well for VCU ahead of the four-game gauntlet on the horizon.

“We needed a game like this to keep our confidence high and really lock-in with a tough week ahead,” Brunt said.  

The Rams will head to the lone star state this week to lock horns with former VCU coach Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns Wednesday at 8 p.m. After that, Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers await the Black and Gold just up I-64 for an inter-state clash at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Defending CAA champion Charleston visits the Stu Dec. 15, and perennial national heavyweight Wichita State graces Broad Street Dec. 22.

“We want Texas,” chanted the student section as the clock wound down in VCU’s last home game of the fall semester.

Zach Joachim, Executive Editor

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