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WVCW Sports Recap: January 5-10

Men’s Basketball

  • The Rams traveled to Philadelphia for their first conference road game taking on the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (12-3, 2-1). After the Hawks jumped out to an 8-0 lead early in the first half, The Rams were able to chip away at their deficit to take the lead going into halftime. Much like the first half, the Hawks jumped out to a big run. The Hawks went up by as much as 13 in the half. The Rams fought back as they outscored the Hawks 28-12 in the final 7:11 of the game to get the win 85-82. Mo Alie-Cox scored 10 straight points for the Rams during that stretch which gave the Rams the lead. Melvin Johnson finished the game with 25 points, seven rebounds, and three steals.
  • They returned to action Sunday afternoon in St. Louis defeating the Saint Louis Billikens (6-9, 1-2) 72-56 thanks to a smothering effort on defense. In the first half, the Rams held the Billikens to 15% shooting in the first half and forced the Billikens to commit 12 turnovers. Due to VCU’s core players being in foul trouble for much of the half, the Rams gained little separation from Billikens going into halftime. With their core players able to contribute in the second half, the Rams were able to go up by as much as 24 in the half en route to their sixth consecutive win. Mo Alie-Cox led the Rams in scoring with 16 points, 10 of which came from the charity stripe.
  • Overall Record, Conference Record: (11-5, 3-0) T-1st in the Atlantic 10
  • This Week: VCU will face the Fordham Rams (10-4, 1-2) on Wednesday at 7:00 at the Siegel Center. On Saturday, the Rams will take on crosstown rival, Richmond Spiders (9-6, 1-2), at the Robins Center at 2:00.

Women’s Basketball

  • The VCU Rams rode a six-game winning streak into Thursday game against the Saint Louis Billikens. Both teams went on a series of runs early alternating leads throughout the game. However, the Billikens would go on a 15-2 run in the second half that would give the lead for the remainder of the game. In the midst of that run, Adaeze Alaeze committed a technical foul that would shift the momentum of the game into the hands of the Billikens. The Rams cut the Billikens lead down to run, but with 15 seconds the go, but the Billikens iced the game with their free throw shooting leading to a 77-72 win. Alaeze finished the game with 20 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Billikens guard, Jackie Kemph, finished the game with 23 points.
  • VCU returned to the court on Sunday looking to rebound after their loss to the Billikens on Thursday. Both teams fought a very close and competitive game down to the wire. The Hawks and the Rams alternated the lead 11 times. Isis Thorpe hit a three to give VCU their first lead in the half 55-54 with 5:31 to go. Ciara Andrews knocked down an open three-pointer to give the Hawks a 65-63 lead with 11 seconds to go. Adashia Franklin hit one of two free throws with a three seconds to go. Keira Robinson had a chance to send the game into overtime with a three, but was able to knock it down. Isis Thorpe led the Rams in scoring with 16 points. Andrews finished the game with a game-high 20 points.
  • Overall Record, Conference Record: (12-4, 1-2) T-7th in the Atlantic 10
  • This Week: The Rams will hit the road for a date this Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio with the Dayton Flyers at 7:00. They will return to the Siegel Center next Sunday to face the Davidson Wildcats at 6:00.

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Streak Stoppers: Kemph, Billikens Hold Off Rams 77-72

Richmond, Va. – VCU’s six game winning streak came screeching halt as the Saint Louis Billikens (11-4, 1-1) defeated the VCU Rams (12-3, 1-1) 77-72 to get their first win in the Atlantic 10. Jackie Kemph scored a game-high 23 points for the Billikens. Adaeze Alaeze led the Rams with 20 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Saint Louis was rolling early in the first quarter as they were able to establish a quick tempo to the game. The Billikens scored six points early on the break. The Rams were later used to the quick tempo to their advantage forcing the Billikens to commit five turnovers in the first quarter. The Rams were able to score eight points off those turnovers. This would allow the Rams to go up 20-18 at the end of the quarter.

VCU went on a 6-0 early in the second to lead 28-19. Billikens would later go on a 13-2 run that included three three-pointers to that would give the Billikens a 32-30 lead with 2:43 to go in the half. In the midst of that run, the Rams would go cold from the field as they were unable to score for over four minutes. It would be until the 1:57 before the Rams would snap out of their drought with Adaeze Alaeze converting a three-point play to give the Rams the lead once again. This would kickstart a 7-2 run by the Rams which would give them a 37-34 at the intermission. The Rams shot 49% in the half.

Both teams traded baskets to start out the seconds half, even converting on consecutive three point plays. The Billikens would tie the game at 44 with 5:49 to go in the third after going on a 7-0 run. Curteeona Brelove would quickly give VCU the lead back with a layup before SLU’s, Jamesia Price tied it up once again with a layup. Foul was on Adaeze Alaeze and technical foul was called on her right after. Jordan Frantz hit the technical free throws and Price would hit her free throw. This was part of a 15-2 run for the Billikens that would give the Billikens the lead 52-46 with three minutes to go in the third. The Rams were able to trim deficit to down to one, 58-57, at the end of the quarter with Keira Robinson hitting a three as time expired. VCU’s shooting percentage dipped a bit as they shot 6-19 in the quarter.

Both teams played a close game in the fourth quarter. The Billikens would go up by as much as eight with 3:14 to go. VCU clawed by and eventually cut the lead down to one with 15 seconds to go after Brelove scored with a layup. Jackie Kemph would hit two free throws to go up by three. Adaeze Alaeze had a good look at a game-tying three-pointer, but the ball would hit off the back iron. Aaliyah Covington would ice the game with two more free throws to give the Billikens the road victory.

The Rams will return to action on Sunday to face the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at the Siegel Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00.

All In: VCU Wins A-10 Opener 71-47

Richmond, Va. – VCU (9-5, 1-0) defeated George Mason (6-8, 0-1) in their conference opener 71-47. Melvin Johnson led the Rams in scoring with 22 points. The win for the Rams was their fourth consecutive win. Johnson moved to 21st on the all-time VCU scoring list with points.

Havoc reigned supreme in the first few minutes of the first half as the Rams forced the Patriots to commit three early turnovers. George Mason did not get their first field goal until the 13:44 mark in the first half after starting 0-7. Midway through the first half, VCU separated themselves from the Patriots by going on a 13-0 run and outscored the Patriots 20-8 in the final 8:16 of the half. Melvin Johnson was the head of the snake scoring 13 points in the half. VCU’s defense did not allow Mason’s leading scorer, Shevon Thompson, to score and limited him to one shot in the half.

VCU’s offense started the second half off cold as they were not able to score for over three minutes. The Patriots were able to trim VCU’s lead down to six. VCU would begin to assert themselves defensively forcing the Patriots to commit six turnovers in a six minute stretch. The Rams would capitalize on the turnovers by going on a 10-0 run to get a 47-31 lead with 11:08 to go. The Rams would go up by as much as 26 as they were able to cruise to victory. Ahmed Hamdy provided a punch off the bench scoring all 16 of his points in the half. He had eight rebounds to complement his scoring total.

“Guys are all in,” Melvin Johnson said after the game. “There’s no ulterior motive. At this point, guys just genuinely care about winning. There’s more smiles, details are handled better, and it’s just a better chemistry. It’s fun to be playing around these guys when we’re playing like this. Even if we lost today, I’m still in love with the way we embraced each other.”

After going 4-1 on their five game homestand, the Ram will travel to Philadelphia for their next game on Tuesday to take on the St. Joseph Hawks. Opening tip is set for 7:00.

Golden Victory: VCU Defeats the Ospreys 80-68

Richmond, Va. – The VCU Rams picked up their third consecutive victory against the North Florida Ospreys Wednesday night 80-68. Melvin Johnson led the team in scoring with 23 points. VCU was able to get contributions elsewhere as Mo Alie-Cox scored a career-high 19 points and Korey Billbury finished with 22 points off the bench. Jequan Lewis only scored four points, but had a career-high 10 assists and three steals.

North Florida got off to a quick start in the first half jumping out to a 9-0 lead, but the Rams charged back with nine points to tie the game. Both teams alternated the lead before the Rams took control of the game jumping out to an eight-point lead at halftime. North Florida shot 50% in the first half, but had a hard time holding on to the ball in the halfcourt turning the ball over 10 times.

The Rams were able to carry the momentum they established in the first half into the second half shooting 57% from the field. Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury hit a trio of shots from behind the arc to further establish pull away from the Ospreys. Mo Alie-Cox asserted himself down low scoring 13 of his 19 points in the half, including a dunk that blew the roof off the Siegel Center. The Rams went up by as much as 18 after a layup from Ahmed Hamdy, 61-43. The Ospreys would not go away as they cut the deficit down to eight with 2:51 to go. This was the closest the Ospreys would get as the Rams would pull away from the Ospreys.

North Florida’s, Dallas Moore, scored a team-high 24 points. North Florida, known for their three-point shooting making 12.9 per game (first in the nation), was held in check as they were 5-18 from downtown.

“Now we got some momentum,” VCU coach Will Wade said emphatically after the game. “We’ve won three in a row. You want to go into the conference season winning. I think we’re as tested or more tested than any team in our conference. Now, we have to continue to play well, continue to get better, understand what’s led to our winning streak, and us playing better.”

With the win, VCU improves to 8-5 as they finished their out-of-conference play. The Rams start conference play with this Saturday at the Siegel Center when they take on the George Mason Patriots. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00.

Happy New Year!

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Stop, Drop, and Ram: VCU Hose Down the Flames 85-57

Richmond, Va. – The VCU Rams extinguished the Liberty Flames 85-57 behind Melvin Johnson’s 15 points. The Rams jumped out to a hot start hitting their first six shots and jumping out to a 12-2 lead. The Rams shot 55% from the field in the first half while playing stifling defense only allowing the Flames to shoot 33%.

The Rams really punished the Flames on the boards outrebounding them 37-23. Justin Tillman grabbed 11 rebounds on his own and Ahmed Hamdy grabbed nine rebounds. In the first half, Tillman and Hamdy outrebounded the Flames entire team 18-13.

The second half played out much like the first half. The Rams started the second half on a 12-4 that included three-pointers from Melvin Johnson, Michael Gilmore, and Korey Billbury. The Black and Gold went up by as much at 37 in the half. Despite a scrappy fight from the Flames, the Rams were able to keep Liberty at distance and cruised to a 28 point lead.

JeQuan Lewis scored at 14 points for the Rams. Jordan Burgess scored 11 points in his first game back after missing two games with a concussion.

With the win, VCU improves to 7-5 with one game left before Atlantic 10 play begins. VCU takes on the North Florida Ospreys in their final out-of-conference game at the Siegel Center on Wednesday at 7:00.

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Holiday Sendoff: Johnson’s 22 Sends RamNation Home With 90-69 Win

Richmond, Va. – Just win baby. That was the plan tonight for the VCU Rams as they gave the Buffalo Bulls heavy dose of Holiday Havoc as they sent RamNation home with a with 70-69. Melvin Johnson scored 22 points in the victory. Korey Billbury followed up with 15 points. The win ended a three game losing streak for the Rams.

Despite both teams shooting 50% in the first half, turnovers plagued both teams. The Bulls committed 20 turnovers in the first half and the Rams had 12. While the score stayed relatively close for the most of the first half, the Rams started to separate themselves within the final minutes of the half. The score was tied at 25 with 3:12 left in the half. From there, VCU went on a 15-2 run to close the half, with Melvin Johnson catching fire as he scored the final six points for the Rams.

VCU’s hot hand continued into the second half hitting six of their eight shots. After a rough first half from three-point land [2-13], VCU went 7-13 from downtown after intermission. They hit their first six attempted three-pointers before missing their first one midway through the half. With the momentum established at the end of the first half carrying over into the second half, VCU was easily able to put away the Buffalo Bulls.

VCU forced the Bulls into 31 turnovers, the most in a game since December 29, 2012 when Fairleigh Dickinson committed 34. Johnson’s five three-pointers moved him into sole possession of fourth on the VCU all-time made three point list with 216.

“I coached high school ball and we didn’t turn the ball over 30 times,” Buffalo coach, Nate Oates said. “They’re not even pressing like they did with Shaka. They pressured in the halfcourt a lot and they did some fullcourt press, but this is not the same Havoc that I’ve watch on TV for the past six years.”

“We need to win,” VCU coach Will Wade said after the game. “We’ve been close. Our formula works. We got it down with the power basketball. We just got to play better in longer stretches.”

The win gave the Black and Gold their sixth win of the season. Havoc returns to the Siegel Center on Sunday when they face the Liberty Flames at 5:00.

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