Siegel Center was the place to be on Valentine’s Day as VCU Men’s Basketball hosted Saint Joesph’s Tuesday night. VCU had a cardiac scare at first glance however Black & Gold love prevailed as the Rams battled back to edge the Hawks while grabbing another Atlantic 10 victory at home.
Doug Brooks showed Ram Nation some love from downtown right at the start. Brooks connected on a pair of threes and collected a steal to get VCU going. Chris Clover kept the Hawks in the game scoring SJU’s first 7 points.
Things got concerning for the Black & Gold as their offense started going cold. VCU was three-point heavy handed shooting 19 times from downtown in the first half. The Rams were ice cold from the spot at the start while Saint Joseph’s surprised the Rams with an offensive explosion.
Leading the Hawks offensively was Charlie Brown with 10 first half points as the Hawks stayed ahead of the Rams to the dismay of Coach Wade. VCU couldn’t connect on their next 9 attempts during a scoreless 2 minutes where the Animal started to panic.
Another head scratcher for the Rams was silly turnovers. VCU made 7 turnovers in the first half ranging from 3-second violations in the paint to elementary traveling violations. Mo Alie-Cox woke up the Rams with a huge two-handed thunder dunk as the Rams went to work on cutting the deficit.
With Love From Mo, Fro & JLew
Mo and Fro came alive from inside the paint while JeQuan Lewis became a blazing inferno from the three point spot. Lewis connected on 6 three pointers and had 18 1st half points. Siegel Center became unglued as Lewis kept hitting and VCU reclaimed the lead.
Siegel Center was all smiles near the end of the 1st half. With 2.2 seconds left, Brendan Casper of Saint Joseph’s was called for a Flagrant 1 intentional foul; Samir Doughty collected the ball on a VCU breakaway towards the basket where Casper hugged Doughty to stop him from scoring.
Doughty went 1 of 2 from the FT line after the officials reviewed the previous play. Lewis had one more three-point attempt in him but that one did not fall; VCU returned to the locker room with a 48-44 lead at half-time.
Back Inside Rams, Back Inside!
VCU started the second half with what they do best: Going to the rim. Doug Brooks got the paint party started with a layup off the glass while Mo Alie-Cox got another dunk and said NO! to Brendan Casper. Lewis was still trigger happy from downtown and connected on his 7th three-pointer as VCU got out to a 55-44 lead.
Saint Joesph’s was not out of this just yet. Brown once again stepped up his game while getting more support from Chris Clover and James Demery. The Hawks got back into the game after another scoreless 2 minutes by VCU. However, Lewis answered once again from downtown with his 8th three ball and Justin Tillman started hitting from mid-range for VCU.
Lewis Still Cooking From Downtown
JeQuan Lewis was not done dishing out love from three-point range. After getting his teammates involved thanks to some assists, Lewis knocked down his 9th three-pointer of the game. As Tillman continued cooking in the paint, Lewis was nearly untouchable from long range as VCU sprinted to a 74-65 lead.
Lewis had a big night as he scored a new career-high of 34 points. He went 9-of-15 from downtown and had 5 assists. JeQuan Lewis was two 3 pointers away from tying the VCU individual record for threes in a single game held by Troy Daniels with 11 vs. ETSU in 2013.
The Hawk Is Not Dead
With the odds against them, Saint Joseph’s kept on fighting. As VCU became lukewarm with a 3-minute scoring drought, SJU was able to cut the deficit to 6 points with nearly 4 minutes left. With limited players due to injury, Saint Joe’s had 4 Hawks score in double figures vs. VCU; leading the Hawks was Chris Clover with 21 points followed by Charlie Brown with 19.
War At The FT Line
Near the two-minute warming, both teams battled at the free throw line while trading quick fouls. VCU and Saint Joesph’s shot 70% from the line; SJU went 21-of-30 while VCU shot 26-of-37 free throws. Samir Doughty and Lewis botch scored 7 FTs each.
Doughty finished 3rd on the team in scoring with 10 while Justin Tillman got his fourth consecutive double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.
VCU was able to hold off Saint Joseph’s from flying out of Siegel Center with the win. The Rams secured their seventh straight victory in the Atlantic 10 by defeating the Hawks 91-81. VCU improved to 11-2 in Atlantic 10 Play while SJU lost their 5th straight contest.
Round 2 of the Capital City Classic happens at the Robins Center on Friday, February 17th as VCU Men’s Basketball battles Richmond. Tip-Off is set for a 9 PM start on ESPN 2.
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