In order to advance to their 5th consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship game, #2 VCU would have to go through #3 Richmond for the 3rd time this season. It was a battle that needed extra time to settle it but the Spiders got bit as VCU moves on to Championship Sunday.
Buckingham vs. VCU
As the game got underway, it was a battle to see who would break the zone. VCU and Richmond contested in a zone defense duel with no clear advantages given. De’Monte Buckingham broke through for Richmond scoring their first 5 points.
Mo Alie-Cox halted the Spiders from inside with VCU’s first bucket. After that, Jordan Burgess provided support with a floater and JeQuan Lewis put the Rams out in front with a 3 point splash.
Buckingham continued scoring for Richmond as he connected on a deep three-pointer just before the shot clock expired. Buckingham was 3-for-3 on shots while the rest of the Richmond team was 0-for-7.
Black & Gold Paint Job
VCU kept feeding the Animal inside the painted square on the other end. Alie-Cox had the upper hand against T.J. Cline and continued scoring for the Black & Gold. Ahmed Hamdy contributed from off the bench as he collected key offensive rebounds and kept Richmond grounded at the rim.
While Richmond’s offense attempted to ignite, Malik Crowfield lit up Ram Fans with a corner pocket 3 Ball to put VCU ahead by 9. The Spiders was still fighting but having trouble dealing with HAVOC without a shooting hand.
The paint was the home of the Rams in the 1st Half. Jonathan Williams wowed the crowd with a two-handed flush and from there VCU continued attacking. Richmond had no answer to stop the Rams from marching inside to the basket; VCU outscored UR 24-12 in the paint.
A Spider Life-Line
Richmond did no go quietly into the locker room at halftime. De’Monte Buckingham hit a late three-pointer giving him 15 points in the 1st half on 5-of-5 shooting. VCU stayed out in front with a 36-31 lead over the Spiders.
An explosive performance for the Rams in the first 20 minutes shooting 60% from the field and 50% from three. The Spiders finished at 39% on the field at the half in search for some support for Buckingham.
Back & Forth We Go
The Spiders were able to start the 2nd half more productively. Buckingham still had the hot hand as he scored a 3 to pull UR within 1. Jordan Burgess gave the Rams momentum after stopping Buckingham on what looked to be a breakaway dunk with a big time denial block.
Lewis kept VCU out in front as the senior scored a much needed And-1 bucket. ShawnDre’ Jones woke up in the 2nd half to support Buckingham on offense as Richmond created some breathing room.
Down 45-49, Ahmed Hamdy made his presence felt once again. The big man went on 6 point scoring run by himself as the Rams were back in business at 51-51 with 9:35 to go. Momentum continued for the Black & Gold as Samir Doughty scored on an And-1 chance and three-pointer.
No Victor In Regulation
TJ Cline had an answer with a much-needed corner 3 for the Spiders to regain the lead. Things got rough for Cline as Justin Tillman hit an And-1 that lead to Cline’s 4th personal foul with 5:53 left to play.
VCU and Richmond kept trading buckets as time winded down. Doughty fed Mo a spectacular pass inside for a wide open slam. Coach Wade with the fist pump on the sidelines along with Ram fans screaming for joy.
Tillman capped off the VCU comeback with a big block that leads to Lewis tying the game at 68 with a layup and under a minute remaining. Nick Sherod gave Richmond the edge late on a big three-pointer with 36.3 remaining.
Clutch City was the home of JeQuan Lewis as he answered from downtown to deadlock the game at 71. ShawnDre’ Jones took on Mo Alie-Cox for the final shot but to no avail; regulation ended at 71-71 as VCU and Richmond headed into Over-Time.
Extra Minutes, Extra Glory for VCU
The extra time period started with a bang for VCU. Alie-Cox quickly got inside for the first bucket of OT while Doughty added an extra. Khwan Fore stepped up to the free-throw line and missed both attempts for the Spiders. 75-71 VCU led with 3:25 left in OT.
Things would get worse for Fore as he was called for a double-dribble for his 4th turnover of the game. VCU took advantage from inside once again as Mo Alie-Cox cashed in on another And-1 opportunity to give the Rams some breathing room.
Back To The Championship. AGAIN!
As time winded down, Tillman slammed home an emotional dagger of a dunk to the absolute joy of Ram fans in the stands. Richmond bit themselves in as the Spiders called a timeout that they did not have leading to JeQuan Lewis hitting a one-shot technical foul.
For the 5th straight year in the Atlantic 10, VCU is heading to Championship Sunday with an 87-77 win in overtime over Richmond. JeQuan Lewis led VCU with 18 points and Samir Doughty put in 17 from the VCU Bench. Mo Alie-Cox finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds while Justin Tillman collected 14 rebounds, 11 points and another double-double in A-10 play.
VCU used the paint to their advantage outscoring the Spiders 56-30. The Rams had 17 2nd chance points, 11 fast break points and 35 from the bench compared to Richmond’s 2. This will be the Rams 7th consecutive appearance in a conference championship game.
Championship Sunday is tomorrow on March 12 as #2 VCU takes on #4 Rhode Island for the Atlantic 10 Championship. Tip-Off is at 12:30 PM on CBS.