Head coach Mike Rhoades wanted VCU to show more of that toughness on the road and the Rams delivered in Pittsburgh. The Rams exited the A.J. Palumbo Center with an 80-74 win over Duquesne to improve to 5-2 in the Atlantic 10. Here are a couple things about what went down between an entertaining clash of Rams versus Dukes.
The Unknown Dukes Show-Off
Duquesne was already wounded before tip-off with Sincere Carry ruled out with a knee injury for the game. That wound got worse with leading scorers Michael Huges and Eric Williams Jr. getting into early foul trouble.
Tavian Dunn-Martin was just what the doctor ordered off the Duquesne bench with 12 first-half points and going 3-for-3 from downtown. Another big energy boost came in the form of Gavin Bizeau; before the contest, Bizeau was averaging 1.5 PPG and scored 8 in 12 minutes which included two long-range three-pointers.
Frankie Hughes took the majority of the workload scoring 15 points in the opening 16 minutes. Duquesne came alive after trailing VCU by 11 points to shock the Rams going 8-of-15 from three (53%) and finishing that half at 50% from the field. Even with this first half performance, the Dukes held a 41-39 lead.
Black & Gold Paint Job
After running out of the gates with a 7-0 scoring run, VCU slowly unraveled and we’re playing catch-up. The constant issue of fighting the game appeared as the Rams made turnovers and the Dukes capitalizing from downtown.
Marcus Santos-Silva became the answer for the Rams. Santos-Silva finished the first half near a double-double with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins continuing feeding #14 inside for buckets as Duquesne could only hope to contain him.
The troops of the Ram Army rallied at the rim. Rebounding was VCU’s advantage with 45 total rebounds compared to Duquesne’s 29. That double-double of Santos-Silva was accomplished with his third of the season at a career-high 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Techs & Mistakes
From Amari Kelly slapping the backboard after a dunk to Santos-Silva blowing a kiss to the away crowd, the whistles were hard at work for 45 total fouls between Duquesne and VCU.
Both teams went after the basketball and the opposition for 40 minutes in an entertaining game of A-10 basketball on a Saturday afternoon. The highlight was indeed Santos-Silva showing some RVA love to Pittsburgh with a kiss after a job well done.
One whistle that wasn’t surprising was Vince Williams being called for a technical after a not-so-friendly shove. What was surprising that Dunn-Martin missed both free throws for Duquesne at the line.
Evans, Jenkins, & Vann. Oh My!
VCU’s triple threat at the backcourt got things back together. After only scoring 6 points at Rhode Island, Issac Vann bounced back for 11 points and led VCU with 4 assists against Duquesne. Vann went in scoring mode early then started creating in the 2nd half to breakdown the Dukes’ double team and traps.
Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins were in sync on the road which led to some creative offense. Evans hit a wall in the 1st half while trying to create his own shot against high pressure from the Dukes. The 2nd half was a turnaround for Evans scoring 17 points and going 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
Jenkins took advantage of Duquesne’s 17 turnovers with a pair of two-handed throwdowns on the VCU fastbreak. With only 1 three-pointer on the day, Jenkins stepped into from mid-range and finished the day at 50% from the field with 13 points.
Road Toughness Found
After coming up short at Rhode Island, VCU battled their way to the 80-74 win at Duquesne. The Rams outscored the Dukes 41-33 in the 2nd half and simmered down the Dukes’ 3 ball to 16% on 2-of-12 shooting.
HAVOC showed up to A.J. Palumbo Center forcing 17 turnovers and turning them into 24 VCU points. The Rams improved to 5-2 in the A-10 to stay in the race for 1st place. George Mason and Davidson are tied for the top spot at 6-1.
Coming Back Home
VCU Men’s Basketball returns to the Siegel Center for anticipated A-10 showdown with the Patriots on Saturday, February 2nd. Rams vs. Patriots begins at 6:30 PM on NBC Sports Network inside the Stu.