Recap Sponsored by: Drink Virginia Beer
VCU was able to shake off a rocky start to cruise to a 96-60 win over California (PA) in Friday night’s exhibition at Siegel Center.
The opening minutes displayed a few jitters coming from the Black & Gold. Early turnovers and numerous fouls kept this game close for the majority of the 1st half. Shooting the rock also was a problem for VCU as they finished the 1st half shooting 45.5% from the field and 18.2% from downtown adding to their eight turnovers.
“Tonight was a good teaching moment. For all of us.” said Senior Melvin Johnson. Johnson struggled in the 1st half with only 4 points and missing all 4 shots from three point range.
Cal (PA) didn’t treat this game like an exhibition; they came to win. Khalil Jabbie lead the Vulcans with 11 points and Richard Smith had 9 points of his own. The Vulcans were able to lock down Sophomore Justin Tillman and Junior Mo Alie-Cox which kept Cal (PA) close on the scoreboard as the 1st half continued.
Coach Will Wade looked for a spark in his reserves and he found it in the form of Jordan Burgess. Burgess’ aggressive play paid off with 12 points in the half along with four rebounds and two assists. Jonathan Williams added 7 points from the bench including a pair of full sprints towards the basket mixed with some acrobatic layups for the finish.
“I had to pick up my role for this team for us to be successful. It’s more of a shoot first, think later type of mentality this year.” stated Burgess.
Things did pick up in the 2nd half as VCU looked to have finally broken some ground against the Vulcans. Senior transfer Korey Billbury stepped up his game and finished the night with 11 rebounds and 10 points for a double-double in his VCU debut. Billbury had some jitters at first but loved playing tonight; especially with 7,637 fans cheering him on.
“It felt like home; the crowd, the environment. I love playing with these guys. It just felt good.” said Billbury.
HAVOC was on full display at Siegel Center. VCU caused 18 turnovers for the Vulcans and scored 24 points off of them. The Rams pickpocketed Cal (PA) 13 times along with eight blocks. Freshman Ahmad Hamdy Mohamed lead the team with three blocks while also grabbing seven rebounds and scoring six points. Alie-Cox had a quiet night with only six points and six rebounds.
Junior JeQuan Lewis only played 15 minutes and finished the night leading VCU in assists with seven along with his four points.
After his first game as VCU’s head coach, Coach Wade is happy with the win but admits there are some things that need fixing before the next game.
“We got some work to do; especially defensively. Really disappointed with our free throw shooting and offensively we weren’t perfect. We are a work in progress and we’ve got plenty of work to do.” said Wade.
Next up for VCU is Prairie View A&M in the 2K Classic here at Siegel Center for Homecoming Night. Tip-off is set for Friday, November 13th at 7 PM.
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