Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
With 33 seconds left on the clock, redshirt-junior guard Marcus Evans nailed the game-winning three to hand Dayton its first Atlantic 10 loss of the season 76-71.
“It was no specific play call,” Evans said. “When the [shot] clock gets under 10, we try to get a high ball screen. I got the ball, it got to eight, I realized [sophomore forward Marcus] Santos-[Silva] was going to be late so he backed off, [I] rose up, and it went in.”
Evans accounted for the final seven points down the stretch leading VCU to the victory. He finished with a team-high 17 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
Dayton attempted a layup with 13 seconds on the clock, but it got stuck on the rim, forcing the officials to call a jump ball. The jump ball gave VCU the possession and sealed the victory.
“Stu magic baby,” coach Mike Rhoades said with a smile. “I said Mr. Siegel is paying his taxes, that’s what happens. If you are coaching long enough you experience it all. Things like that remind you of past experiences. Today it was in our favor.”
VCU and Dayton went back and forth for most of the second half, until the Flyers were held scoreless for about four minutes toward the end, allowing the Rams to make the final push for the win.
“You have a chance if you get stops,” Rhoades said. “I told them you don’t have to make a hero play, we have to be solid — we have to be solid on defense.”
The Rams forced 12 Flyer turnovers, which they took advantage of, scoring 11 points off the errors.
“On offense I thought we really executed down the stretch … and then guys made plays,” Rhoades said. “We didn’t chuck any shots, we were playing downhill, sharing the ball.”
The Rams got off to a quick start as Evans stole the ball and layed it in to open up the contest. VCU used the momentum from the takeaway to go on a 7-1 run.
Junior guard De’Riante Jenkins hit a deep 3-pointer midway through the first half, extending the Rams’ lead to 10 and forcing the Flyers to burn a timeout.
The Flyers surged back at the end of the half, using a 9-0 run over the final 1:33 of the first half to pull within one heading into the halftime break.
VCU shot 45.2 percent from the field in the first half, including 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Jenkins was perfect from the field in the first half, shooting 2-for-2 from three and 1-1 inside the arc. He led the Rams in the first half with eight points and finished with 13.
“I said to DJ after the game, that was one of his best overall games that he’s played here in his three years,” Rhoades said. “I just thought he played great on the defensive end … I thought he did some great things on offense. I was really proud of him.”