** Disclaimer: The games included in these articles are solely my opinion. If yours differs, I’d encourage you to comment below, or join the discussion on our forums. **
Make sure you checked out Part one of this ongoing series!
Part two takes us back to Dec. 13th, 2014.
VCU had just lost three of the last five games (Villanova, ODU, and UVA) and the schedule wasn’t easing up anytime soon—add that to the fact that the UVA loss ended a 22-game home win streak. Next on the docket was a home game against #23 University of Northern Iowa, as part of the ESPN BracketBuster series (Remember those?!).
#9 – VCU vs UNI
December 13, 2014, ESPN BracketBuster
Y’all, this VCU team was absolutely STACKED with ballers. I mean literally everyone on this team was a fan favorite at one point or another, I think. Check this out:
Treveon Graham, Jarred Guest, and Briante Weber in their senior year; Melvin Johnson as the lone junior; then a sophomore class that included Jordan Burgess, Mo Alie-Cox, JeQuan Lewis, Doug Brooks, and Tory Burston. With Justin Tillman and Jonathan Williams rounding out the freshman class, I mean c’mon, what’s not to love about this team?
The game went to double overtime before Doug Brooks, who played a career-high 20 minutes, hit a three pointer to the second extra period. From there it was all VCU as the Rams went on to win, 93-87.
It’s no surprise to anyone, I’m sure, that Treveon led with a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double, or that Briante Weber had 14 points and 6 steals. And it probably shouldn’t surprise you either that Melvin Johnson put up double-digit scoring.
What I see on the stat sheet is Justin Tillman as a freshman putting up 8 points and 3 rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time—not to mention shooting a cool 80% from the floor.
But what I remember is that this team bounced back, and with a vengeance, after losing a tough game to UVA just seven days prior. The win against UNI started a 12-run win streak for VCU that would take them through the rest of 2014, and just one game shy of being without a loss in the month of January.
In fact, the first loss in the year 2015, and the first conference loss after starting on a seven-game win streak, would come on January 31st to Richmond. You may remember this as the game we lost Briante Weber.
You may also remember, though, that this team never gave up.
VCU finished the regular season just short of the top four in conference play. That meant we had the seemingly impossible task of going to Brooklyn and winning four games in four days as the #5 seeded team, without our starting point guard.
#12 Fordham was first on the list, then came a Friday matchup against #4 Richmond—who swept VCU in the regular season. Saturday’s semifinal matchup saw VCU going head-to-head against #1 Davidson.
A win Saturday catapulted VCU into the Championship game against #2 Dayton in which the Rams came away with the 71-65 victory and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Check back next week as I move to #8 on my list of Top 10 games in the last 10 years. Here’s a little hint for those restless folks out there:
Jay Gavin led all-scorers on the night with 20 points.