Malik Bowden’s Basketball Blog
Ram Nation, it’s safe to say the ship has not sunk yet. After beating George Mason on the road then falling to St. Bonaventure on a last second lay up the Rams were searching for some way to stop the bleeding. When the VCU took on La Salle in their first home game since their Richmond loss the contest had more meaning the usual. Fans wore white headbands and shirts that read “In 2 we trust” paying homage to VCU’s injured point guard Briante Weber. Not only would VCU take the court without Weber they also played without Treveon Graham for the second straight game, he was battling the high ankle sprain that he sustained against Rhode Island, and has still been bothering him.
VCU went with a rotation that appeared to be a tease of the future for VCU fans as they started Jequan Lewis, Melvin Johnson, Jordan Burgess, Justin Tillman, and Mo Alie Cox. Four of those five players will almost be guaranteed starters next year so this was a good opportunity for the Rams to see how life will be in the A-10 without their three seniors. VCU fought tooth, and nail with La Salle as they leaned on Jequan Lewis to keep them in the game. Lewis made tough baskets, and timely free throws. Although the Rams were not able to keep the ball out of the hands of La Salle’s best player, Jordan Price, who calmly hit the game tying three to send the game to overtime. In overtime Jordan price scored 12 of his game high 34 points, he also finished with a monstrous 18 rebounds, and five assists. The Rams fell to La Salle and dropped to 8-3 in conference play. The rest of the season began to feel like an uphill battle as VCU would have to travel to the nation’s capital and play George Washington.
The best news early Saturday prior to the game was that VCU’s leading scorer, Treveon Graham, start after missing two straight games in which the Rams lost, and it showed instantly how much the Rams missed their senior leader. Although he struggled with fouls he did hit some tough shots that you would only expect from one of the top scores in VCU history. VCU was able to pressure GW and discombobulate their offense. In the second half the Rams outscored the Colonels 41-28 thanks to some sharp shooting from sophomore Doug Brook who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds to lead the charge off the bench. VCU had four other players score in double figures with Melvin Johnson leading the team in scoring with 17 points while only taking nine shots.
With the win the Rams improved to 9-3 in conference play, and simultaneously avoiding a three game losing streak which would have been the first ever under Coach Smart. VCU will have their rematch with St. Louis this coming Tuesday at home, and Saturday they will play UMASS who is in a four way tie for first place with VCU, Dayton and Rhode Island.