The VCU Rams (12-3, 2-0) defeated the Davidson Wildcats (10-3, 1-1) in their first of two matchups this season 71-65 and handed the Wildcats their first loss ever in the Atlantic 10 conference. In the process, the Rams extended their winning streak to seven games and remain undefeated in the A-10 earning their second win in the conference. VCU senior, Treveon Graham, led the Rams in scoring and rebounds posting a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
VCU did not shoot the ball particularly well from the floor shooting 42%, but they were able to spread the scoring distribution amongst multiple players as their depth proved to be a clear advantage throughout. The Rams bench outscored the Wildcats bench 29-16 and nine players scored for the Rams. New York City natives, Melvin Johnson and Terry Larrier, both contributed 11 points for the Rams.
VCU’s defense held the nation’s third best scoring team to 20 points under their season average and also made Davidson’s leading scorer, Jack Gibbs, a non-factor. Gibbs was not able to establish any sort of rhythm offensively on the court shooting 1-10 from the field. Gibbs was held without a field goal in the first 35 minutes of the game. Gibbs was able to cash in from the free throw line making all eight of his free throws and finished with 11 points in the game. VCU point guard, Briante Weber, pointed out that Jack Gibbs is an amazing player, but they made it a point of emphasis to take him out the game.
“All we could hear the coaches talking about was he just had 32 points on Richmond, he’s an excellent player,” VCU Senior Briante Weber said. “I’m pretty sure the team and I definitely got fed up hearing Jack Gibbs. They have a three-headed monster with those three guards (Jack Gibbs, Tyler Kalinowski, and Brian Sullivan). We would key on him, because he is the head of the snake. You take him out, we can contain the other two.”
Davidson only made 37% of their field goals, which is well below their average from the field as they have shot 48% from the field this season. Davidson also shot below their average from three-point range shooting 36% from three-point land. VCU’s trademarked havoc-style defense was able to force Davidson to turn the ball over 15 times. Davidson’s lack of depth showed throughout the game as their three-headed monster scored 46 of the teams 65 points. Sullivan and Kalinowski each played 38 minutes and Tyler Kalinoski played the entire game before fouling out with eight seconds left in the game. Sullivan led the team in scoring with 19 points and Kalinoski also contributed with 16 points for the Wildcats.
We struggled more to run our half-court offense than we did in any other part of the season and we’ve played against some pretty darn good defensive teams” Davidson coach, Bob McKillop said. “That’s a credit to Shaka and his team that they’re not just a pressing team, but they continue their defense into the half-court.”
“I think that we have a lot of guys that can come in and help us if they are in the right frame of mind,” Smart said. “You got to have a clear head for helping your team win and playing for one another. The reality is I think that all the guys on the bench would love to be starters, but that might not be their role. If they accept that and we all have a clear head for helping our team win, than we can continue getting better be a very good team. That’s a daily process and that’s a choice that our guys have to continue to make.”
Briante Weber had four steals for the Rams and is now tied with Cookie Belcher for fourth place on the NCAA all-time career steals with 353 steals. Weber needs 33 more steals to break NCAA all-time steals record.
The Rams will have the opportunity to sweep the Wildcats win the regular season when they play again on March 5 at Davidson.
The Rams return to action on Saturday at 2:00 against the reigning A-10 champions, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (6-7, 0-2) on WVCW.ORG. The Rams lost to the Hawks twice last season as the Hawks won in Philadelphia and in the finals of the A-10 Basketball Tournament in March. The Rams will look to exact revenge against the Hawks in their only regular season matchup to extend their winning streak to eight games.