VCU takes rematch against Bonaventure, Rams win 74-51

VCU senior guard KeShawn Curry throws down a slam dunk in a game against St. Bonaventure on March 1. Photo by Shawn Terry

JJ Hendrickson, Contributing Writer

The VCU men’s basketball program defeated the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 74-51 on Tuesday night at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. 

VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said the team performed well in a big win against the Bonnies. 

“I’m just really proud of our guys. They came ready to play today,” Rhoades said after the game. “Look, St. Bonaventure is missing their most impactful player, maybe the best player in the league, and that happened to us not too long ago when we were missing Vince [Williams Jr.]. I just thought our guys had a great approach today in shootaround. They were locked in.”

St. Bonaventure was forced to play without senior center Osun Osunniyi. The shot-blocking big man was out with an ankle injury, as reported by Richmond Times-Dispatch sports reporter Wayne Epps Jr.

The black and gold were able to take advantage of his absence early, as they jumped out to a 10-4 lead, with all of their points coming from inside the paint or the free-throw line. 

After a strong start, the Rams’ defense began to make their presence known. They held St. Bonaventure to just four points across a six-minute span in the first half. Those stops led to easy transition buckets on the other end, and VCU went on a 22-4 run. Senior guard KeShawn Curry said this is how the team intends to play all the time.

“I mean, we play like that every game. We like to play downhill, we like to play moving fast,” Curry said.

The suffocating Rams defense lasted throughout the entirety of the first half and their lead reached a high of 22 points. When the buzzer sounded for halftime, VCU led 40-27. St. Bonaventure shot 32.3% from the field, which was far worse than the Rams’ 54.8%.

VCU senior forward Vince Williams Jr. said their defense was a focus prior to the game on Tuesday. 

“We just really wanted to stay in front and to stick to our principles on defense. Coach was emphasizing that these last couple of days,” Williams said.

St. Bonaventure began to slowly creep back into the game at the beginning of the second half. The team hit a couple of tough shots and it looked like the Bonnies may be on the comeback trail.

Bonnies senior guard Jalen Adaway scored seven quick points at the beginning of the half. With 14:07 left in the game, Adaway stole the ball and went sprinting towards the hoop for an easy fastbreak field goal. When he rose up to dunk, he was blocked from behind by VCU sophomore guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr. All of their momentum was gone. Curry said the block was huge for the team after the game.

“AB’s [“Ace” Baldwin Jr.] block was big. You know, it helped settle us back down. Instead of them scoring, we’re taking the ball out and trying to run a play,” Curry said.

After the block by Baldwin, the Rams ran away with the game. They outscored St. Bonaventure 22-15 from that point onwards, leading to a final score of 74-51. The Rams trio of Curry, Williams and Baldwin Jr. combined for 39 points of the team’s 74 points. Junior forward Hason Ward contributed six blocks as well.

This was a very different result than the last time these two teams met. St. Bonaventure beat VCU by a score of 73-53 on Jan. 17, according to ESPN. Curry said that this result was at the front of their minds coming into the matchup today. 

“Coach Rhoades talked about it every day,” Curry said. “Every day this week, he brought it up and he let us know that can’t happen again. That’s not accepted here at VCU.”

Tuesday night’s game was the final game at the Siegel Center for Williams and Curry, who are both seniors. They each received a standing ovation as they checked out of the game for the final time at the “Stu.” Coach Rhoades said what has changed for both seniors in their time at VCU.

“Number one thing is just maturity, growth,” said Rhoades. “They’re both very emotional competitors, they wear it on their sleeve. But, they’ve just grown. Every year they’ve gotten better as players. I think they wanted to leave their mark on VCU basketball their senior year with how hard they played.”

The Rams will play their final regular-season game at St. Louis in the Chaifetz Arena at 4 p.m. on March 5. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. VCU will also play in the Atlantic 10 conference playoffs, which take place from March 9-13 at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.   

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