The early returns from tonight’s game at Xavier suggested another rough night for the Rams. But after a 4-0 run to start the second half, stretching Xavier’s 13-point halftime lead to a massive 17-point deficit, VCU started fighting back.
Troy Daniels hit two three-pointers in 27 seconds. Juvonte Reddic followed those with a dunk. Then after two Treveon Graham free throws, the Rams were back within single digits, and off to an 8-0 start to a 24-5 run.
With 10:43 to play, reserve point guard, Teddy Okereafor, capped that run with a layup to give Xavier their first deficit of the evening.
X and VCU swapped leads for the next six minutes, then at the 4:41 mark, two Briante Weber free throws gave the Rams the lead for good, with Cincinnati native, Rob Brandenberg, scoring the final six points for VCU including two clutch free throws with 11 seconds left to seal the 75-71 win for VCU in front of his hometown crowd.
Brandenberg scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half, adding three rebounds and two steals in his 25 minutes on the court.
The Rams needed every bit of that production out of Brandenberg and company, as VCU stumbled out of the gate, shooting 30% from the floor to Xavier’s ridiculous 74% first-half clip.
The 39 surrendered first half points were the most VCU’s defense had given up all season.
But the tables were flipped in the second, as shots began to fall, allowing VCU to set up their press and dictate the pace throughout the remainder of the game.
The Rams hit 53% of their second half attempts while holding Xavier to just nine field goals after the break.
VCU turned the Musketeers over 22 times in total, including 10 from star point guard Semaj Christon.
Troy Daniels led the Rams with 19 points on the evening, hitting 5 deep balls while grabbing three rebounds and a Briante Weber-like four steals.
Treveon Graham once again found double-digits despite a slow start, posting 17 points and six rebounds in the win.
Juvonte Reddic rounds out the list of double-digits scorers for the Rams with 10 points to go along with nine rebounds. It was the junior forward’s first game without a double-double since the Rams Valentine’s battle against UMass three games ago.
The win was a crucial road victory for the Rams, not only giving the black-and-gold a RPI top-100 road win for their tournament resume, but also moving them to two games ahead of the fifth-placed team with just three games remaining.
The top four seeds in the Atlantic 10 get a first-round tournament bye.
The loss was just Xavier’s second in their last 54 home conference games.
The Rams move to 10-3 in A-10 play, 22-6 overall on the season.
VCU will take a week off before taking on the No.15 Butler Bulldogs in a Final 4 rematch next Saturday at noon at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.