Saturday in RVA was an early afternoon spectacle shortly after sunrise as VCU Men’s Basketball returned to Atlantic 10 action against George Washington. The Rams aimed at turning their 2 games losing skid around against the Colonials who historically was on the losing end of this series at 2-11. VCU was able to turn things around in 40 minutes along with grabbing a much-needed victory at the Stu.
Letting The 3 Fly
After the tip-off was won by George Washington, both teams let the three ball fly. Before the downpour from downtown, Johnny Williams went coast to coast on the opening layup for the Rams. Sean Mobley made his presence felt in his first collegiate start with a one arm dish to De’Riante Jenkins who buried the first three-pointer.
Terry Nolan Jr. responded with a corner three for the Colonials and it was off to the races. Justin Tillman was working inside the paint and striking early while Malik Crowfield and Mike’l Simms added to VCU’s 3 Ball tally. Tillman made it 16-11 after converting a 3 point play through an And-1.
All About That Defense
Pressure by VCU on defense was felt throughout the arena. The Rams did not give much breathing room to the Colonials with smothering pressure. Watanabe found some air with an uncontested three that tied the game at 18-18. Marcus Santos-Silva regained the advantage for VCU after connecting on an And-1 through contact from Arnaldo Toro.
George Washington hit a 2-minute snag on offense with shots not falling. During that stretch, VCU kept attacking the basket with Jenkins and Williams scoring layups. Jair Bolden was able to break the cold run of the Colonials with the visitors trying to restart their offense. The duo of Toro and Zeigler knocked down buckets from close range as the deficit diminished.
Hot Start, Chilly Finish
Turnovers appeared late in the 1st half for the home team. GW went to their zone defense and caused some ruckus with steals and turnovers by the Rams. Bolden and Watanabe cashed in on those fumbles to tie the game at 34-34. The Rams quickly answered with a 4 point swing in the form of a layup from Khris Lane followed by Williams off the steal by Vann.
For the last 3:23 of the half, VCU’s offense did not convert a basket from the field. George Washington kept working the paint with Watanabe slamming home a dunk at the rim. Watanabe led the Colonials with 13 points in the first half.
VCU’s defense held strong by forcing 8 GW turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. The Rams had a good opening half on offense shooting 62% on 16-of-26 shooting. The home team and crowd were pleased with a 41-37 lead upon halftime.
An Old Friend Made A Return
HAVOC came out to play in the 2nd half. Tillman started the festivities just seconds into it with an And-1 floater after the foul by Toro. After the Fro’s three-point play, HAVOC forced GW into making 3 turnovers in less than a minute.
Bolden felt the pressure of Jenkins and Vann on a trap and stepped on the out of bounds line. Add that with two traveling violations and VCU was all smiles around the Siegel Center. Coach Joseph burned a timeout for the visitors in hopes of reset while trailing 37-44.
Marcus Santos-Silva made the most of his minutes off the VCU bench. The freshman big kept the Rams in front with an offensive rebound turned into a second chance bucket. Inside the painted rectangle was a war between VCU and GW with neither squad backing down.
After shooting 70% in the first half, George Washington’s offense hit the wall early in the 2nd. The Colonials went 2-of-9 in their first attacks of the half and had a goose egg from three on three attempts. VCU’s offense starting running away with the game with Santos-Silva, Simms, and Williams attacking the basket relentlessly. After Williams scored a layup, VCU got out to a double-digit lead of 54-44.
Bo Zeigler slammed one home in hopes of a fresh start for George Washington. VCU’s offense quickly responded with a barrage of buckets from the senior duo of Fro & Glaze. Jenkins added to the firepower from long range and HAVOC kept smothering GW defensively.
A lifeline of hope came for the Colonials with a pair of And-1 baskets by Toro and Watanabe. GW was still having an offensive backlash with their shot selection not connecting on the floor. VCU continued moving the ball around the court and held the hot hand in the 2nd half.
That Winning Feeling
Things got worse for the visitors when Arnaldo Toro fouled out of the contest with 1:54 remaining in the game. VCU returned to their winning ways on Saturday with an 87-63 victory over George Washington; the Rams finished the game at 55% shooting from the field.
De’Riante Jenkins and Justin Tillman co-led the Rams with 18 points against GW. Jonathan Williams collected 14 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. Marcus Santos-Silva delivered 11 points and 5 rebounds during his 13-minute shift off the VCU bench. The Fro lead VCU with 8 rebounds and Sean Mobley dished a team-high 8 assists.
The Paint War was won by VCU with the Rams outrebounding GW 34-22; 44 points were scored by the home team in the painted rectangle. VCU’s bench scored 27 points compared to just 5 from George Washington’s reserve.
VCU Men’s Basketball hits the road on Tuesday, January 23rd for an Atlantic 10 duel at Saint Louis; tip-off will begin at 9 PM EST on CBS Sports Network. GW prepares for a trip to St. Bonaventure on Sunday, January 28th in their next conference game.