Defense leads VCU men’s basketball over Mount St. Mary’s in home opener

Senior forward Corey Douglas, left, and freshman guard Josh Banks, middle, wrestle the ball away from a Mount St. Mary's player. Photo by Megan Lee

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

Men’s basketball defeated Mount St. Mary’s 60-42 on Saturday. The match marked the Rams’ first appearance in the Stuart C. Siegel Center in more than 280 days.

The defense led the win, scoring 26 points off of 23 Mountaineer turnovers and logging season-highs of 18 steals and eight blocks in the win. 

“Overall I think it was a great performance,” said senior forward Corey Douglas. “I feel like as a team we focused on our keys before the game, just blitzing. I feel like everybody followed the game plan really well.”

Douglas logged a team-high three blocks in the contest, adding two steals and 5 points. 

Coach Mike Rhoades said he liked how the defense performed in the season opener. 

“We just held a college team to 42 points. I’m proud of that,” Rhoades said. “We play defense like that, we’re going to be in business.”

The Rams held the Mountaineers without a field goal for the first four minutes. After a Mount St. Mary’s conversion just after the under-16 media timeout, the team from Emmitsburg, Maryland,  jumped on a 9-0 run to take the lead. 

“When we watch tape on Monday, there’s going to be learning experiences,” Rhoades said. “That little 9-0 run will help make us better. Those are the moments that we’ve got to stop.”

The Rams were held scoreless for just over five minutes during the run, missing eight consecutive attempts from the field. 

“I feel as though we were just letting them get what they want and not sticking to our defense principals,” sophomore guard Bones Hyland said. “Once we locked in and knew what we was trying to do for them, we turned it around and went on a little run.”

Hyland recorded a team-high 14 points and added three assists against the Mountaineers. 

The Rams broke Mount St. Mary’s run, converting a block from sophomore forward Hason Ward into a sophomore guard Tre Clark layup. 

Ward logged 6 points and two blocks battling in the paint. 

Moments later, the black and gold’s offense was firing on all cylinders, going on a 23-2 run. During the run, VCU held the Mountaineers scoreless for over six minutes and knocked down four 3-pointers after starting 0-5 from deep. 

Hyland accounted for three of the 3-pointers, including back-to-back treys to force a Mount St. Mary’s timeout. 

Freshman forward Jamir Watkins recorded 5 points during a 12-2 run midway through the second half.

The Rams controlled the paint the entire contest, scoring half their points near the basket. 

“We knew we were going to have the advantage on size, so the goal was to dominate the paint,” Douglas said. 

Mount St. Mary’s and the black and gold matched in total rebounds, logging 31 each. The Rams won the offensive glass, out-rebounding the Mountaineers 10-7. 

The Rams host North Carolina A&T on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. The game will be televised on MASN2 and ESPN+.

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