A Battle of the Rams at high noon began VCU Men’s Basketball’s journey through Atlantic 10 conference play on a chilly Saturday afternoon against Fordham. The Siegel Center produced warmth in a Battle of the Rams that showcased Tillmania, VCU going bonkers in the opening 20 minutes and a Black & Gold victory to start conference play.
Welcome To The A-10 Fro
Justin Tillman went into A-10 mode offensively to start the 1st half. The senior out of Detroit connected on his first basket from downtown. After Joseph Chartouny drove inside for Fordham’s first basket on a layup, Tillman responded with his classic floater on the other end. Just before the timeout was called, the Fro clinched another dime to make it 7-5 VCU all by himself.
After the timeout, VCU cranked up the heat in the Stu with a 10-0 scoring sprint. Team passing led to Marcus Santos-Silva cashing in with a bank under the rim. Following that, Tyler Maye and Malik Crowfield ordered steal and layup combos putting VCU further ahead. Issac Vann made his presence felt in his return with an offensive board that turned into assist towards Maye from mid-range.
Raut Launches Fordham Rout
Fordham landed a much-needed counter punch from the three-point spot. The visiting Rams hit paydirt with a 9-0 run from downtown starting with Ivan Raut knocking down back to back treys. HAVOC was hurting more after Perris Hicks connected for Fordham’s third consecutive three-ball to cut the deficit to a single point.
Issac Vann momentarily stopped the bleeding behind the three-point spot to keep VCU ahead. De’Riante Jenkins connected on a tough layup from close range and Crowfield got the ball right back after a steal attempt ended up in VCU’s possession. Fordham still had trouble dealing with Tillman inside as the Fro scored his fourth basket of the half. VCU went ahead 23-16 at the Under-8 timeout.
2nd Round On The Home Team
Another scoring run was had by the Black & Gold in the form of a 10-0 swing in about 2 minutes. Jenkins started the festivities from the free throw line followed by Vann from mid-range. Johnny Williams and Mike’l Simms set up Jenkins with an uncontested 3 ball in the corner pocket that hit nothing but net. Simms jumped into the shooting barrage with a three that sent Siegel into a joyful frenzy.
A Memorable First
Trailing double-digits once more, Fordham had a rough outing on offense during a 2:30 cold run. On defense, VCU continues pounding the visiting herd in transition and from three shooting 58% in the half. 7 three-pointers for the home team had everyone celebrating on a Saturday afternoon along with a 67% shooting percentage from the field.
Agent Zero had one more highlight with VCU’s 8th steal of the half and transformed into a thunderous one-handed jam. He had 11 points in the first half along with Tillman scoring 12; VCU would extend their run to 14-2 to end the half with a 20 point lead at 48-28.
Opening Stumble Fumble
The Fro started the 2nd half similarly to the first from three and hitting with ease. Fordham got off the right foot with a 7-0 scoring rally led by Perris Hicks and Will Tavares. VCU was stuck in the cold for 2 minutes without a basket but still ahead 52-39 at the first timeout of the 2nd half.
Chartouny and Tavares would extend that run to 11-0 after back to back layups for Fordham. VCU’s cold streak would continue with Sean Mobley missing on a three-pointer and Santos-Silva making a costly turnover in the paint. After a quiet first shift, Tavares got hot from downtown with back to back threes to put Fordham within striking distance.
Vann and Tillman were able to end Fordham’s 14-2 run with much-needed baskets. Air Johnny was in attendance as Williams cut inside for the layup score reputing VCU ahead by double-digits. VCU’s three-ball was out of commission in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half with the Rams going 1-of-7 from the spot.
Fordham Gets Quiet Chilly
As the game continued, Fordham hit the wall face first on offense. As Fordham went 0-for-6 on their last shooting attempts, Vann and Tillman continued racking up assists and buckets on the opposite end for VCU. Jenkins kickstarted the Rams from three to collect a 7-0 scoring swing before the media timeout.
HAVOC resettled itself on the floor and did not make things easy for the visitors. Steals and turnovers came in a late shift for VCU while the defensive pressure continued to mount on Fordham. After about 7 minutes of inactivity, Prokop Slanina reactivated Fordham with a three-pointer.
The Opening W!
With only a few minutes remaining, Fordham brought out one last glimmer of hope. Chartouny and Tavares would cut the lead down to single digits once again. Crowfield made a big play with 2:17 remaining on an offensive board that turned into a 2nd chance layup. After Slanina missed a layup for Fordham, Jenkins dished the ball to Williams for the layup to put VCU up 12 points.
Once Tillman wrestled the ball away from Slanina to give VCU possession, it was all she wrote from Siegel Center. VCU increased their winning streak to 4 straight and won their Atlantic 10 opener against Fordham 76-63.
Justin Tillman once again led VCU with a double-double performance of 23 points and 14 points in 31 minutes of play. De’Riante Jenkins had 14 points and went 3-for-3 from three. Malik Crowfield added 10 points and Issac Vann put in 26 minutes of play in his return with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Will Tavares scored a team-high 20 points for Fordham. VCU finished at 50% from the field and knocked down 9 three-pointers. The Black & Gold outrebounded the visiting herd 36-25 with 12 of those on the offensive end. HAVOC had 11 steals and scored 20 points off of Fordham’s 14 turnovers. There was only 1 tie in the contest and that lasted for 44 seconds.
Next up in Atlantic 10 play for VCU is a road trip to Saint Joseph’s. The Rams take on the Hawks in the new year on Wednesday, January 3rd at 7 PM. Fordham battles Richmond back in the Bronx on the same day.