Short-handed Rams throttle Bonnies to end two-game skid 

Freshman forward Hason Ward logged 8 points against St. Bonaventure. Photo by Megan Lee

Ryan Grube, Staff Writer

After men’s basketball won the opening tip Saturday afternoon, freshman guard Bones Hyland took the deflection, crossed halfcourt, took a pass from redshirt-senior forward Issac Vann and knocked down the shot from behind the arc.

Hyland’s first three pointer set the stage for a dominating first half of basketball from VCU — something the black and gold needed after dropping their previous two games against Rhode Island and Dayton.

Following their first home loss since Dec. 15, 2018, last Saturday, the Rams rolled to an emphatic 85-51 victory over St. Bonaventure in front of a packed Siegel Center.

“Coming off two losses, we really locked in on the last two days of practice, and prepared for this game well,” Vann said. “And, it showed tonight.”  

The Rams were asked to perform without two of their key contributors in senior guard Marcus Evans, who had a concussion and the flu, and sophomore forward Vince Williams, who has a broken bone in his hand.

Coach Mike Rhoades said he was pleased with his team’s play while being down two players.

“We weren’t going to make excuses, we had to get better,” Rhoades said. “We talk about having an army. When guys go down, somebody has to step up, and that’s what happened today.”

Coming off their second two-game losing streak of the season, Rhoades’ crew answered the bell with a vengeance, setting a new season-high for points in a half with 52 going into the break.

The previous high for Mike Rhoades and company came in the first half against LSU, when the Rams dropped 50 on the Tigers and former VCU coach Will Wade. 

Hyland got his second career start in Evans’ absence. After recording a career-high 16 points against Dayton, the freshman one-upped that performance with a 21-point effort to lead the black and gold.

On Tuesday night against the Flyers, VCU fell victim to a devastating 22-0 run that it couldn’t recover from. Saturday was a complete turnaround for the Rams, who made St. Bonaventure the recipient of a 22-2 first-half run to put the game out of reach early.

VCU, which came in forcing nearly 19 turnovers per game, only caused nine giveaways by the Bonnies. But a 52.4% shooting clip from the field, and nine made 3-pointers, helped the black and gold cruise to a much-needed win.

St. Bonaventure played without one of its leading scorers as well. Osun Osunniyi was held out of Saturday’s game with a concussion he suffered in the Bonnies’ previous contest against UMass.

The injury to Osunniyi — St. Bonaventure’s leading rebounder at 9.3 rebounds — triggered the seventh double-double of the season for junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva. The Taunton, Massachusetts, native finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for VCU. 

Freshman forward Hason Ward saw added minutes with Williams banged up. The freshman forward capitalized on the opportunity, tying a career-high with 8 points on 3-of-4 shooting.  

The Rams out-rebounded St. Bonaventure 43-38, and VCU’s Havoc defense held the Bonnies to a mere 17% (3-18) shooting from behind the arc.

The Rams will hit the road next for a bout with Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 21 at 9 p.m.

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