Richmond may have won two battles against VCU this season, but they didn’t win the war.
The Rams downed crosstown rival Richmond 70-67 in Friday’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinal contest. The win snapped a two-game losing streak to the Spiders but gave VCU two-gamer of their own when it matters most: in March in Brooklyn.
VCU led by one at the half but found themselves down eight at the 13:40 mark after a Terry Allen layup completed a 6-0 Spiders run. The Rams declined an opportunity to fold and instead went on a 8-2 run to dial up the excitement in the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Richmond got the lead back up to six on a Kendall Anthony layup with exactly four minutes remaining until JeQuan Lewis answered with a timely three-pointer 14 seconds later.
Kendall Anthony responded with a layup then, the Rams scored the next seven points capped off by a Doug Brooks corner three that gave the Rams a two-point lead with 1:37 to play.
Richmond’s TJ Cline tied the game with 1:17 remaining before Mo Alie-Cox grabbed it right back on an and-1 that proved to be the beginning of the end for the Spiders.
From there Melvin Johnson hit all four of his free throws to give VCU a five-point lead with six seconds remaining. Anthony sank a three with one tick left on the clock, then JeQuan Lewis was able to hit the first of two free throws, purposefully missing the second with 0.9 remaining, giving VCU the win after a last second heave from Cline bounced off the backboard.
With the win VCU advanced to take on the Davidson who battled back from 18 points down to stun No.8 seed La Salle at the buzzer in a one-point win.
Melvin Johnson led VCU with 23 points in tonight’s win. Johnson hit five of his nine three pointers and finished 50% overall from the field.
The three ball had not been falling for VCU but Johnson’s hot hand paired with three big ones from Doug Brooks helped the black and gold to finish 47.6% from deep on the night.
Brooks finished with nine points for VCU.
JeQuan Lewis was the Rams only double-digit scorer in the win. Lewis finished with 10 points and added four rebounds and three assists.
Treveon Graham finished with just nine points on 2-11 shooting but led all players with eight rebounds and added a block and a steal.
Mo Alie-Cox finished with six boards of his own and added seven points on 3-4 shooting, an assist and a block.
The Rams forced 13 Spider turnovers but had 13 of their own and were able to survive and advance despite Richmond hitting 57.4% of their attempts.
VCU and Davidson will make up one half of tomorrow’s semifinal bracket, tipping it up at 1:30PM.
VCU won the first game between these two by six points in Richmond. Davidson responded by throttling VCU in the Rams worst loss under head coach Shaka Smart, a 27-point drubbing just eight days ago at Davidson.