Bench play leads VCU men’s basketball over ODU to snap two-game skid

Senior guard Malik Crowfield was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc against ODU. Photo by Jon Mirador

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

Before every game, senior guard Malik Crowfield’s mom texts him with three tasks, and one of them is to shoot when he gets the opportunity. 

“My mom tells me before the game, ‘good luck, play your hardest, play your energy. Oh yeah, shoot the ball when you have a chance,’” Crowfield said. “She tells me that every game. Even though it gets on my nerves, it helps me a lot.”

His teammates relay the same message to him every day. 

“Everyone tells him to look for his shot,” junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva said. “We always tell him to shoot it.” 

On Saturday night, the advice paid off for the LaPlace, Louisiana, native as he shot a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to lead the Rams over ODU 69-57 at the Siegel Center.

“The past three years I’ve been looking for my shot in the second half,” Crowfield said. “KeShawn Curry told me to look for my shot because I was wide open every time, just look for it.”

Coach Mike Rhoades noticed Crowfield’s improved shot selection.

“I think he shoots better balanced shots this year, but he’s shooting open ones,” Rhoades said. “I thought today he did a good job reading some screens, and guys got him some good looking shots.”

Crowfield led the Rams’ bench as he finished with 9 points. The reserves totaled 25 points.

“Their play was huge,” senior forward Mike’L Simms said. “That was the first thing we said when we got back to the locker room. We so proud of them, they picked us up.”

Sophomore guard KeShawn Curry logged 6 points, two blocks and one steal off the bench for the Rams. 

Sophomore guard KeShawn Curry logged 6 points against ODU. Photo by Jon Mirador

The black and gold fell behind early, before the Rams’ bench went on a 7-1 run to pull ahead by two. 

The Rams defense forced two shot clock violations and five ODU turnovers in the first eight minutes of action. 

Midway through the first half, the game stalled with neither team recording a field goal for just over three minutes. The drought ended as Jenkins nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Rams in front by three. 

Both teams traded blows back and forth until the Monarchs used a 7-0 run in the final two minutes of the first half to take a 3 point lead.

In the first half, the Rams defense limited the Monarchs to shooting 17% from three and forced nine turnovers. 

The Rams opened the second half on an 8-2 run to take a 5 point lead. Santos-Silva logged four of the eight points during the surge for the black and gold. 

The second unit led a 13-3 run midway through the second half, including Crowfield’s back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 12. 

“That second group with some of the young guys, they’re nine games in now,” Rhoades said. “They’re getting more comfortable and familiar. I think they’re playing with better pace and attacking.

Freshman guard Bones Hyland logged 5 points and three assists in the contest. 

ODU went on an 8-0 run late in the second half to cut the Rams lead to five until redshirt-senior forward Issac Vann answered it with a 3-pointer. 

The Rams closed the game on a 12-6 run to put the nail in the coffin for the Monarchs. 

ODU was limited to shooting 13% from beyond the arc, only converting two 3-pointers. 

The Rams will host Missouri State Dec. 15 at 7 p.m at the Siegel Center.

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