A Battle of the Rams took place at the Siegel Center between VCU and Rhode Island. VCU went 2-for-2 to start Atlantic 10 play and returned back home Saturday against Rhody attempting to win two consecutive games over the Black & Gold.
Not Offense Friendly
VCU’s offense hit a snag after winning the tip-off going 1-of-6. The Rams feed Marcus Santos-Silva inside for baskets at the rim but struggled to connect elsewhere. On the opposite end, Rhode Island went 3-of-6 powered by Jermaine Harris and Fatts Russell hitting uncontested jumpers.
Corey Douglas and De’Riante Jenkins got the Rams’ offense a boost from inside and long-range. Douglas came off the VCU bench and immediately made an impact with a bucket off the glass. Jenkins hit VCU’s first three on their next possession to tie the game at 9-9 before the under-16 timeout.
Fouls & Buckets For Rhody
Antwan Walker got in early foul trouble by picking up 3 personal fouls with 13:36 left in the contest. Two of those fouls happened in a span of 10 seconds as Walker exited the court in frustration. Frustration loomed for VCU during a scoring drought of 4:51 until Santos-Silva created a 3 PT play off an And-1 basket.
Rhode Island started pulling away with an 8-0 run to go up double-digits at the Siegel Center. Jacob Toppin broke through VCU’s full-court press with an alley to Tyrese Martin for the slam that stunned the Stu. VCU shot 2-of-13 from the field before Coach Rhoades called timeout trailing 12-22.
“Ain’t no quit in us. We can’t let games like this slip away or dig a hole that we can’t get out of.”
–De’Riante Jenkins, VCU Senior Guard
The Long Comeback Trail
HAVOC rejuvenated the Black & Gold turning Rhode Island turnovers into opportunities. Jenkins rushed the basket for a one-hand throw down that brought Siegel Center back to life late in the 1st half. Marcus Evans knocked down an uncontested three near the Rhode Island bench to cut the deficit to 6 points.
Dowtin kept Rhody’s lead at 7 points with his first three just before the half and had 11 points total. VCU trailed Rhode Island 35-28 and finished a rough half of shooting at 32% (11-of-34) from the field and 20% (2-of-10) at the three.
Hit The Reset Button
The 2nd half started in favor of the visitors with a 5-0 URI run. Martin found himself open and hit from three followed by a steal into a fast-break finish for Dowtin. Jenkins responded after the VCU timeout scoring a one-handed layup on the fastbreak. Mike’l Simms doubled down with his first bucket of the game from three to cut URI’s lead to 12.
That lead trickled down to 7 thanks to key plays from Corey Douglas and Nah’shon “Bones” Hyland. Douglas won the tie-up with URI’s Cyril Langevine on a defensive rebound that led to Bones knocking down a three on the other end. Douglas was back in action on the glass with an assist from KeShawn Curry for the layup inside.
URI hit the wall on offense going 1-of-13 from the field and over 4 minutes without a bucket. During that span, VCU came within three points of Rhody as Santos-Silva spun his way to the rim giving the Rams hope. Following a traveling violation on URI’s Langevine, Santos-Silva scored again from close range to bring VCU within a single point at 50-51.
The cold spell of Rhode Island was finally broken by Dowtin on a layup to keep the Rams out in front. Offense remained inconsistent in the 2nd half at 7-of-26 from the field heading into the last 4 minutes of play ahead 56-52.
Near the 3 minute mark. URI sparked a 6-0 run with four consecutive free throws and a layup from Walker to go back up 10 points. Free throws were key for the visitors going 19-of-22 from the line. VCU continued to battle until the final buzzer with Rhode Island claiming a 65-56 victory at the Siegel Center. Jeff Dowtin scored 21 points, Fatts Russell had 16 points, and Tyrese Martin put up 13 against VCU.
“(Rhode Island) came in here and played a heck of a game. Their guards really attacked us and all the credit goes to them.”
De’Riante Jenkins led VCU with 14 points and Marcus Santos-Silva got his 6th double-double in a losing effort. Marcus Evans had 11 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. VCU scored 15 points off of URI turnovers and had 16 second-chance points. VCU never held the lead during the game; Rhode Island is now 9-7 over VCU all-time.
Coming up next for VCU Men’s Basketball is a road trip to #15 Dayton on Tuesday, January 14th. That A-10 conference clash begins at 8 PM on CBS Sports Network.