Ryan Grube, Staff Writer
Before men’s basketball hit the road for the two-game trip in Philadelphia, redshirt-senior guard Marcus Evans needed just 12 points to reach 2,000 for his collegiate career at Rice and VCU.
The Chesapeake native fell just 3 points short after a 5-point outing at Saint Joseph’s and a 4-point performance against La Salle.
Evans said the shortcoming didn’t deter his focus, adding that winning is his main priority and his point total landmark was a distant second.
“At the end of the day, I want to win. That’s all I care about,” Evans said. “If I didn’t get it until the end of the season, last game of the season, I truly don’t care. If we’re holding up a trophy, that’s all that matters to me.”
On Tuesday night at the Siegel Center, Evans finally eclipsed the milestone. With about 16 and a half minutes to go in the first half, Evans received the ball at the top of the key. The senior hit Richmond guard Jacob Gilyard with a jab-step, rose up and hit the contested shot to arrive at 2,000 points, even.
Gilyard fouled Evans in the act of shooting, so VCU’s third-leading scorer stepped to the line and made it 2,001.
Evans described the ball going through the hoop as a relief, given his recent shooting struggles. He said converting on the 4-point play triggered a confidence boost.
“My teammates have been staying on me. It’s been a rough stretch,” Evans said. “2,000 — I’m blessed to be able to score that, but bigger than that, it just felt good to put a game together and a full team win.”
Evans scored 1,350 of his points at Rice University with Mike Rhoades alongside as his coach. Rhoades, who is now VCU men’s basketball’s head coach, asked much more of Evans during their first two years at Rice. Evans hoisted up an average of 17.2 shots during the two seasons in Houston.
Since arriving at VCU, Evans’ shot attempts have dipped by nearly four shots per game. The redshirt-senior guard has drawn some scrutiny from critics throughout the season, who say Evans is not the same player from a year ago when he was named as a First Team All A-10 selection.
Rhoades put those thoughts to sleep, saying how proud he is of Evans’ perseverance and drive through numerous injuries and setbacks.
“Through Achilles, a lot of other injuries, and everyone expects him to be perfect and score 20 and get eight assists and no turnovers, and press the whole game,” Rhoades said. “I don’t care what anyone else says, but to watch him and to see where he’s at right now and the type of teammate he’s been — I’ll take that any day of the week, plus the 2,000 points.”
Evans finished Tuesday’s game with 9 points and three assists on 2-of-6 shooting.
The Rams will be back on the road for a rematch with Rhode Island on Friday at 7 p.m. That game will be televised on ESPN2.
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