A-10 VCU smacks Spiders in VA battle
By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
In the Atlantic 10 Tournament Quarterfinals on Friday night at Barclays Center, the second-seeded VCU Rams beat their fellow Virginia rival, the #7 Richmond Spiders, 71-53.
VCU dominated this one from the start, with an 8-1 lead after the first four minutes. The Rams built that lead to 16 points, at 31-15 on a Treveon Graham three-pointer with 4:42 left in the first half. They maintained that lead the rest of the way and took a 38-22 lead into halftime.
VCU led by as many as 24 in the second half, on a Melvin Johnson three that made it 71-47 with just 1:48 left in the game.
Known for their HAVOC defense, VCU held Richmond to just 34 percent shooting, or a putrid 17-for-50 from the field.
Briante Weber led VCU with 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting. Treveon Graham had 14 points and 6 rebonuds, and Melvin Johnson had 13 points.
VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart said of the win, "Our guys played with energy and focus tonight, hadn't played for six days. Our guys hadn't had that much time to prepare for a game. That's hugely terrific, in terms of providing them with a sense of purpose and understanding what's next. Obviously, moving forward, we won't have that type of prep time, but nobody else will either. These two guys (Briante Weber and Melvin Johnson, in press conference with him) played really well tonight. Bri gave us a terrific lift early on offensively, put the ball in the basket a lot, which we'll take whenever we can get it. I thought that gave us momentum early and we were able to get defensive stops to extend the lead. Melvin made some big shots."
Briante Weber said of the rivalry between VCU and Richmond, "It's a crosstown rivalry, and we're probably six miles apart. Any time you can beat a team three times, it doesn't matter who it is, that's big, and any time it can be your rival, it just gives it more reverence."
Melvin Johnson said of the VCU crowd present at Barclays Center, "Last year, we were surprised with it, since it was our first tournament here, how many fans came out to support us. This year, we knew what to expect, and they surprised us again because it was more than I thought. Playing in front of our crowd is just like playing at home."
Weber said of the crowd, "We are fortunate to have great fan support. We have won 50 straight at home, and they brought the show on the road for us. It felt like a home game."
In the afternoon quarterfinal games, #9 Saint Bonaventure upset top-seeded Saint Louis and 71-68 and #4 Saint Joseph's beat #5 Dayton 70-67. In the second game of the night session, #3 George Washington beat #6 UMass 85-77.
Saturday at the A-10 Tournament Semifinals: Saint Joseph's will play Saint Bonaventure at 1:30 and VCU will play George Washington at 4:00 pm