The 93rd chapter of VCU versus Old Dominion delivered a spectacle full of rivalry nostalgia and physical play at the Siegel Center. Saturday night was a fight on the hardwood that matched the hype and was headlined by career high by Justin Tillman.
Emotions ran high rather quickly after the tip-off was won by the Monarchs. Justin Tillman got his 3 Ball flying early going 2-for-2 to start the game. De’Riante Jenkins continued VCU’s offense inside with a pair of successful drives to the rim for layups.
Jenkins got more involved on the stat line after being issued a technical foul by the officials after some verbal misconduct. This lead to B.J. Stith sinking both free throws for ODU to cut the deficit to two. Randy Haynes would put the Monarchs ahead 13-12 after connecting from close range.
Another technical foul was served this time to Trey Porter of Old Dominion. The sequence began after Ahmad Caver had a botched dunk attempt that was denied by the opposing rim. Jenkins raced down to the other end and was blocked by Porter on the layup. Seconds later the ref whistled Porter for the technical foul for mouthing off towards Jenkins after the play.
What You Gonna Do Tillman!?!
After the media timeout, Sean Mobley kept the Siegel Center buzzing with VCU’s third three-pointers of the game. Marcus Santos-Silva and Jonathan Williams added fuel to the offensive fire as the Rams jumped back into the lead.
Tillmania was running wild on the scoreboard and the Monarchs could not stop it. Tillman continued working from midrange while improving his shooting to 5-of-5 and 12 points. B.J. Stith landed a couple counter punches while turning VCU turnovers into buckets. ODU spring a 6-0 scoring swing in less than 40 seconds to regain a 30-26 lead.
Monarchs Bite, Rams Get Even
Old Dominion kept the Rams at bay to further their advantage. The Monarchs continued cashing in on VCU’s 10 turnovers during the first half. Off those turnovers, ODU scored 12 points and was led by Randy Haynes with 13 points in the half.
Jenkins stopped the bleeding with a coast-to-coast trip that ended with a highlight one-handed slam to tie the game at 39. Brandan Stith had the chance to regain the lead for ODU on the steal but was called for the traveling violation after taking an extra step.
The final moments of the 1st were as emotional of the early stages. Trailing by a bucket, Williams drove inside for a layup that missed the target. Tillman had a second chance just before time expired but could not convert however ODU was whistled for a shooting foul.
Justin Tillman finished his 21 point performance of the half at the line with a pair of free throws to square up the game. Both teams headed back to the locker rooms tied at 41-41 and shot 50% from downtown in the half.
Turnovers and VCU continued having a rocky relationship in the second half. The Rams committed 3 turnovers in the opening 6 minutes of play that were feasted on by the Monarchs. B.J. Stith and Porter made the most on their scoring opportunities while ODU padded on their lead.
A three pointer from Jenkins only temporarily silenced the Monarchs. Trey Porter became the go to man on offense inside after finishing a basket through contact and connect on back to back dunk attempts. Caver increased ODU’s lead to double-digits from downtown forcing Coach Rhoades to call timeout with 13:45 left on the clock.
Trailing 48-59, VCU played in search of a counter of some sort. Agent Zero was that answer sparking off an incredible 8-0 scoring run by himself to put VCU within 2 points. Jenkins hit a corner three followed by a cirque-de-solei layup and another three point bomb. Siegel Center went full Animal mode as Jenkins got VCU and the Ram faithful back into the contest.
Porter and Tillman traded blows in their battle of the forwards. As Porter scored another basket from inside, Tillman went outside for a counter punch three. Williams came up huge with an And-1 layup through contact and the free throw to make it 63-61 for the Rams.
War On The Hardwood
On the other end, Porter and Tillman were shoving each other in the painted box. Old Dominion couldn’t score however Tillman got the best of Porter for the basket off the glass. The Senior unleashed his emotion and Siegel Center kept pumping the volume.
Mike’l Simms increased the bass with a steal that halted to ODU’s momentum at center court. Simms slammed his hand on the court multiple times in pure joy with VCU holding on to the lead near the 8 minute mark. More trouble came for Old Dominion with Trey Porter collecting his fourth personal foul at 4:12 mark.
Closing Time At Siegel
The latter part of the second half went in full cool down mode scoring wise. Nearly 10 minutes passed for Old Dominion until they connected on a field goal. VCU spent the last 7:38 of the game without a bucket. Even with the Monarchs committing fouls to stop the clock, VCU was able to knock down their free throws from the line.
The final buzzer sounded as VCU celebrated an 82-75 victory over their rivals. Justin Tillman led finished the night with new career high of 28 points. The Fro went 10-of-13 from the field and 4-of-5 from downtown. De’Riante Jenkins scored 23 points and went 4-of-6 from the three. Jonathan Williams had 18 points and was clutch at the free throw line going 11-of-13.
This was VCU’s third consecutive victory over Old Dominion. VCU improved to 6-2 overall while the Monarchs fall to 5-3.
Next game for VCU Men’s Basketball happens on Tuesday, December 5th when former VCU head coach Shaka Smart makes his return Siegel Center with Texas. Gametime is set for a 7 PM start on ESPN 2.