VCU edges out Morgan State to win 69-54

VCU junior guard Adrian ‘Ace’ Baldwin Jr. looks to score a contested layup in a game against Morgan State University on Nov. 12. Photo by Guy Enkh

Thailon Wilson, Staff Writer
Bersabeh Kemaw, Contributing Writer

VCU defeated the Morgan State University Bears in a back and forth contest to increase the black and gold’s record to two wins and zero losses.

VCU graduate student forward Brandon Johns Jr. led the team in scoring with 14 points. VCU junior point guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr. had nine points and seven steals. 

VCU struggled to score inside of the three-point arc because of the Bears clogging up the paint, leading to VCU only scoring 10 points near the basket during the first half, according to StatBroadcast.

Johns said the team had to refocus on the second half to fix up their shooting errors in the paint. 

“The shots weren’t really falling in the first half. I had to snap back for the second half,” Johns said.

This sequence of back and forth scoring told the full story for the first 14 minutes of play. Both teams scored the basketball with ease, but Morgan State had the lead over the Rams with six minutes left in the half, according to StatBroadcast.

VCU started off cold on the defensive end which allowed Morgan State to answer back in scoring.

VCU attempted to prevent Morgan State’s offense from scoring through a full court press. 

The pressure forced the Bears to give up early shots, but they were able to secure 12 offensive rebounds that led to 11 second chance points in the first half, according to StatBroadcast.

Even with the cold start, VCU ended the half with a one point lead, 28-27. VCU’s scoring output was low for the first half. In comparison to the Rams’ first game against Manhattan College, the black and gold scored 20 less points in the first half, according to VCU Athletics.

VCU basketball head coach Mike Rhoades said he liked how the team answered pressure from the first half after Morgan State was able to pick up on the Ram’s strategy. 

“They were really aggressive and at times knocked us off our game plan. I love how our guys responded in the second half,” Rhoades said.

Although VCU ended the first half with the lead, the Bears quickly came in and took back the lead with a layup by Morgan State graduate student forward Lewis Djonkam.

Later in the half, VCU went on a 9-0 run for two minutes making the score 41-33.

After the run, the black and gold ramped up their defense with a full court press. The defense led to trapping situations which helped Baldwin secure four steals in the second half.

VCU’s defense helped to create more scoring opportunities in the paint through transition plays, as well as fast break opportunities. The Rams scored 41 points at the half, while only allowing the Bears to score 27.

VCU graduate student forward Brandon Johns Jr. said he was able to score easier in the paint in the second half because of the team’s mentality and the team’s playmaking efforts.

“My teammates helped me get open and just being aggressive and confident,” Johns said.

Morgan State attempted to erase VCU’s lead, but a three point jumper made by VCU senior forward David Shriver with three minutes left sealed the game for the black and gold. 

Shriver’s teammates and coaches maintain faith in his shooting abilities, which helps him make crucial shots, he said. 

“My teammates and coaches just having trust in me no matter how well I’m shooting the ball that day but they always trust that the next one is gonna go in,” Shriver said.

As the game was coming to an end, the Bears entered a full court press to attempt a last ditch effort comeback, but VCU maintained their lead and finished off the game with a score of 69-54.

The Rams will play in the Legends Classic game against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Nov. 16 at 8:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center. The game will be televised on ESPN+.

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