VCU Men’s Basketball stepped into the Steel City looking for a championship in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Rams started their search as the #2 seed battling #7 George Mason in the Quarterfinals; there was no charm for the Patriots as the Rams took care of business and advanced to Semi-Final Saturday.
Just Like The Stu
PPG Paints Arena was the home of a rambunctious crowd and start for VCU. Doug Brooks got the party started offensively with the opening bucket; from there the Rams went on a roll during a 6-0 scoring run.
For George Mason, they had their hands full dealing with the Rams. Mason had 4 turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the contest while shooting 25% from the field. HAVOC was on the court and in the crowd as the Black & Gold of VCU took control.
From Hot to Freezing
Things started to get a little chilly inside PPG Paints Arena. After a hot start, VCU went nearly 5 minutes without a bucket along with some sloppy turnovers. George Mason could not take full advantage with the Patriots’ streaking shooting.
VCU was aiming to recharge their paint presence. The Rams started out scoring 10 of their first 12 points from inside the paint box. Lead by Jordan Burgess and Justin Tillman, the Rams still stayed ahead as the 1st half continued.
George Mason would finally hit pay dirt thanks to Karmari Newman hitting on a wide open three pointer. Tied at 14, Justin Kier put the Patriots in front on a 2nd chance opportunity just before the media timeout.
Agent Zero with Extra Glaze
Jonathan Williams led the Black & Gold onslaught late in the 1st half. Williams connected on a layup full of difficulty then followed that with a defensive pressure to cause another Mason turnover. The junior guard jumped for joy in celebration as the Rams were back in the game.
De’Riante Jenkins made his presence felt from downtown. Coming from the VCU Bench, Jenkins had the hot hand from three with back 2 back money balls. Along with Jenkins, the Rams got reignited offensively while regaining the lead.
Battling Until The 1st Buzzer
Both teams traded punches until half-time. From Jenkins connecting on a two-handed VCU slam to George Mason picking up buckets under the rim, there was no clear advantage. Inside the paint was effective for both teams picking up 20 points each.
George Mason had the advantage at the free throw line going 9-for-9 compared to VCU shooting 1-for-3. VCU got support from the bench as the Rams outscored George Mason 18-5. There was no clear leader at the half with VCU and George Mason tied at 32-32.
Back & Forth on Points & Errors
The 2nd half continued with trades between VCU and George Mason. Jordan Burgess and Jaire Grayer traded layups while Otis Livingston connected on one while surrounded by 4 Rams defending him.
VCU once again went cold but so did George Mason. As the game continued, the Rams had a bad luck of shots missing and turnovers. Things started looking up for VCU as Ian Boyd picked up his 3rd personal foul and Samir Doughty scored on an And-1 opportunity.
Under and near the basket was the point of emphasis for the Rams. Coach Wade wanted his Rams to attack the basket for better scoring options. While VCU carried that out, George Mason started hearing whistles on fouls. JeQuan Lewis connected on an And-1 contact layup to tie the game at 48-48 with 7:40 to go.
Those Raging Rams
As time winded down, VCU unleashed a 2nd half barrage of production. Brooks got things going from downtown followed by Lewis banking in a VCU layup. The Rams were just getting started as Jordan Burgess took a George Mason charge that got Ram fans all excited in PPG Arena once more.
Mo Alie-Cox made an impact with a pair of blocks that lead to 2 loud #MoSaysNo chants from Ram Nation. The volume increased as Burgess put in another layup during a much needed 10-0 VCU scoring run.
There was more to come from downtown as Brooks & Lewis connected on three-pointers to put VCU up further. Brooks with a fist pump, Lewis with a wink and VCU ahead 64-52 with 2:23 left.
De’Riante Jenkins did work off the VCU bench with 15 points and 4 rebounds. JeQuan Lewis had an eruptive 2nd half and finished with 13 points and 6 assists. Jordan Burgess was the 3rd Ram that hit double-digits with 10 points and 7 rebounds versus the Patriots.
Against the odds and the clock, George Mason did not go down without a fight. Marquise Moore put on a good performance with 11 PTS and 17 REBS for GMU. Jalen Jenkins led Mason with 15 points while Jaire Grayer put in an additional 13.
At the final buzzer, it was #2 VCU punching their ticket to the Atlantic 10 Semi-Finals with a 71-60 victory over #7 George Mason. The Rams defeated the Patriots for the 3rd consecutive time this season.
VCU Men’s Basketball heads to the Atlantic 10 Semi-Finals and will face the winner of #3 Richmond vs. #6 George Washington. That Semi-Final game tips off on Saturday, March 11th at 3:30 PM on CBS Sports Network.