VCU Men’s Basketball returned to the Siegel Center for their for their first Atlantic 10 conference home game of the 2018-19 season. The Rams took on La Salle who rolled into the arena in search of a second straight A-10 road victory. A rough opening act by the Rams turned into second half heroics just in the nick of time for the Black & Gold.
Visitors Set The Tone
La Salle controlled the tempo and kept the ball away from VCU’s Marcus Evans. 4 turnovers in the opening five minutes of the game had the Rams playing from behind. Isiah Deas and Pookie Powell took advantage for the Explorers with a 6-0 scoring run. De’Riante Jenkins woke up VCU and the crowd with a much-needed three-pointer before the first media timeout.
Issac Vann gave the Rams what they wanted after play resumed with another three-pointer for VCU. Saul Phiri silenced the noise along with the Explorers going 3-for-3 on their next three shot attempts. Deas made matters worse after being fouled on a three-point attempt by Vann and making all three free throws.
A Surprising Turn Of Events
The Explorers were outhustling the Rams which led to the Black & Gold playing out of sync. VCU went 2-of-10 to start the game from the field and trailed 20-10. Phiri scored another layup during another 6-0 run for the visitors that forced Coach Rhoades to burn a VCU timeout down 12. La Salle was doing a little of everything on offense from scoring in the paint to mid-range and beyond.
David Beatty cashed in on the Explorers third three of the half to keep La Salle well ahead. The momentum started to turn after De’Riante Jenkins sunk a pair of free throws and Vann connected on a layup to pump up the volume. More energy and movement was on the defensive side for VCU while Malik Crowfield knocked down a three to put the Rams within single digits.
Refresh, Refresh, Refresh!
As the Rams started hitting a strive, turnovers put VCU back up against the wall. 10 first-half turnovers for VCU lead to 8 La Salle points in addition to abysmal shooting percentages for the home team. The Rams finished the first half at 29% from the field (7-of-24) and 31% from three (4-of-13).
Powell smacked the mute button at the Siegel Center with his first three-pointer just before halftime arrived. Jenkins had the last word by sinking another VCU three with 4 seconds left in the half. A good note to end a rough half with VCU trailing La Salle 37-28.
We got too many talented guys to be in a slump like that in the 1st half. Going into halftime, the emphasis was to play together in the 2nd half.-Issac Vann, VCU Redshirt Junior Forward
Back In Business
A second wind reenergized VCU’s offense with a 9-0 scoring spree moments after the 2nd half began. Marcus Evans got going with a three pointer from the wing and followed that with a steal just seconds after La Salle inbounded the ball. Sean Mobley and Marcus Santos-Silva created buckets from inside to put VCU within 4 points of the Explorers.
Just as Siegel Center was going crazy in the stands, Phiri dished the ball to Croswell at the basket for power slam at the rim. The Explorers were working on getting Croswell more involved in the paint as La Salle held a narrow 44-40 lead.
Fouls & Physicality
Corey Douglas added to VCU’s paint presence to keep La Salle on their toes inside. Douglas took the ball away from Powell at midcourt and feed Evans for a breakaway layup. As the game continued, Saul Phiri left the floor limpining after colliding with VCU’s Mike’l Simms on a rebound attempt.
Foul trouble became a concern for La Salle later in the 2nd half. Traci Carter, Jack Clark, and Ed Croswell were whistled for their 4th personal fouls with over 10 minutes remaining in the contest. Santos-Silva made his trip to the free throw line count with a solo make that tied the game at 45-45.
Coming In HOT From The Line
Free throws came in bunches for the Rams with nearly every La Salle foul resulting in a trip to the line. Both teams went over 6 minutes without scoring a field goal but VCU was doing damage control on free throw attempts shooting 71%. Powell ended La Salle’s cold run near the 7 minute drought with a long jumper from mid-range putting the Explorers within 3 points.
VCU sped up their offense by moving the ball around and finding the open man. Evans found a wide open Santos-Silva for a layup then Williams scored on VCU’s next possession. La Salle called a 30 second timeout with 4:42 to go and down 58-51.
Emotions Running Wild!
The Explorers went down a man with Traci Carter picking up his 5th personal foul on an offensive turnover. There was a moment where VCU thought they had a turnover off a possible shot clock violation on La Salle. Upon further review, La Salle maintained possession on an inbound but could not convert on the shot attempt.
Deas and Powell made buckets late for La Salle however Santos-Silva and Jenkins responded to keep VCU out in front as time ticked away. Things got heated with 20.7 left after Vince Williams tripped over Isiah Deas after a dead ball on the sidelines.
Once Deas got up, he immediately started yelling into Marcus Santos-Silva’s ear which signaled the officials to breaking the teams apart by force. Both Deas and Santos-Silva were called for double technical fouls that offset.
You Can Call It A Comeback!
Really proud of our guys. It was a gut-check game…wasn’t pretty but it was a win. So we will take that!-VCU Head Coach Mike Rhoades
The comeback was solidified from trailing by 18 points to VCU defeating La Salle 69-63 at the Siegel Center. VCU improved to 11-4 overall and 2-0 in Atlantic 10 play. De’Riante Jenkins finished the night at VCU’s top scorer with 15 points and 4 rebounds.
Marcus Santos-Silva collected 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. Marcus Evans was 2 rebounds short of a double-double with 12 points and 8 rebounds, Issac Vann was the 4th ram in double-digits with 12 points.
Isiah Deas and Pookie Powell co-led La Salle with 15 points each. The Explorers outscored VCU’s bench 27-13. La Salle falls to 3-11 overall and 1-1 in A-10 Play.
What’s Up Next?
The Rams get back on the road this weekend with a trip to Davidson for their next A-10 game. Tip-off will be on Saturday, January 12th at 2 PM on CBS Sports Network.