There was plenty of love from sideline to sideline shared between VCU and Davidson Wednesday night at Siegel Center. With 6 conference games remaining, the Rams went to war with the Wildcats to take control of the 3rd place spot in the Atlantic 10.
Scoring Early & Often
VCU’s offense was sharing the love in the opening minutes on the scoreboard. De’Riante Jenkins found Justin Tillman down low for the opening Black & Gold bucket. After KiShawn Pritchett responded with a Davidson three-pointer, the Rams went back to work quickly on offense. Jonathan Williams and Issac Vann connected on threes followed by Sean Mobley driving and scoring to make the contest 11-5 Rams.
Just before the media timeout, Davidson’s offense was stuck in the mud. The Wildcats went 2-of-8 from the field and made only one three-pointer out of six attempts from outside. After over 2:30 without a basket, Peyton Aldridge knocked down a three in order to readjust Davidson’s shooting luck.
Warm To Mild To Freezing
On the other end of the court, VCU was shooting near 50% from the field in the first 10 minutes of the 1st half. The Rams kept the pressure on with Khris Lane causing a ruckus from off the bench and into the paint. Tyler Maye added extra HAVOC defensively and nearly collected on a coast to coast steal but won possession for VCU after the ball went off of Davidson and out of play.
There were two cold stints for VCU’s offense that lasted over 3 minutes. Davidson turned to Kellan Grady and Will Magarity as the duo drove to the basket with ease. HAVOC was not up to par with Coach Rhoades’ disliking as the Wildcats leaped ahead 23-19 after a 7-0 scoring run for Davidson.
A Chilly Home Upon Halftime
Justin Tillman got back to work in the paint after the ball was delivered for his 5th field goal of the half. Mike’l Simms warmed all of Ram Nation with a lovely 3 Ball to put VCU back in the lead and the noise back into the Animal. Once again, Grady played heel towards the Rams with a gutwrenching dagger from downtown.
For the last 3:48 of the 1st, VCU did not connect on a field goal. After a hot start, the Rams finished the half at 38% from the field on 10-of-26 shooting. Even with Justin Tillman collecting 11 first-half points, the Rams trailed Davidson 24-28 at the half. Kellan Grady led the Wildcats with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes.
A Quick Reboot In Dire Need
Davidson started the 2nd half with a plan of driving to the basket repeatedly. This plan was carried out successfully by Aldridge and Grady with three layups in total. After Jenkins was called for the charge, Jon Gudmundsson dished a dime to Aldridge on a cut to the basket for two more points. Coach Rhoades called a much-needed timeout with VCU trailing 26-36 and 17:16 on the clock.
After a refresher, the Fro rekindled the net with a layup as the Rams worked on the deficit. Davidson started to slow down offensively and Tillman countered with an And-1 opportunity that turned into a 3 point play at the free throw line.
Senior Forward Showcase
Aldridge took over the game on the next few possessions for the visitors. The senior out of Ohio started with his second three-pointer of the night to increase the lead to 8. Siegel Center cried out travel on Aldridge’s layup however the basket counted to make it a double-digit lead. Aldridge got Gudmundsson going with an assist that turned into his first three-pointer of the contest.
The game got further out of reach for the Rams at 50-36 after Aldridge cashed in on an And-1 play after Jenkins committed the shooting foul. Aldridge vs. Tillman matched the hype as both senior forwards battled valiantly on both ends of the court until the final buzzer.
A Few More Treys Of Hope
De’Riante Jenkins fired one more three in an attempt at a Black & Gold comeback late in the 2nd half. Just as the crowd got back into the game, Grady silenced the Valentine’s Day crowd with a cold-blooded trey to the heart of the Rams.
There was one last fight out of VCU and once again Jenkins took the leading role with a three-pointer. On the next Davidson possession, Jenkins collected a steal and another 3 Ball to give the Rams hope. With less than a minute, Tillman added fuel to the fire with VCU’s third consecutive bucket from the three-point spot.
Cupid did not show up on Broad Street on this night to turn this dark tale around. The deficit was too great the Rams as Davidson collected the 74-63 conference win on Valentine’s Day. The Wildcats captured 3rd place in the Atlantic 10 at 9-4 while VCU falls further down in the standings at 7-6.
Final Stat-Line & Who’s Next?
Justin Tillman led VCU with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The Fro also collected 8 rebounds, a block, and a steal. De’Riante Jenkins went 5-of-8 from the three-point spot and scored 19 points on the night.
Davidson went 6-of-11 from three in the 2nd half at 54%, Peyton Aldridge got a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Kellan Grady scored 19 points and the duo of Gudmundsson and Pritchett had 12 points each.
Next up for VCU Men’s Basketball is a pair of Atlantic 10 road games. Their first trip is to Washington D.C. at George Washington for a 4 PM contest on Saturday, February 17th; that contest will be shown on Stadium TV.
Davidson returns to action at John M. Belk Arena versus UMass on Saturday, February 17th at 7 PM.