Marcus Posley hit his second buzzer-beating, game-winner of the week to lead St. Bonavnenture past #18 Virginia Commonwealth University 73-71 on Saturday afternoon.
It’s been a tough eight days for VCU. Last Saturday, Briante Weber tore his ACL, MCL, and meniscus as Richmond topped VCU 64-55. On Wednesday, Treveon Graham re-injured his ankle as VCU scrapped past George Mason 72-60.
Forced to start a lineup without its two best players, VCU quickly fell behind 11-4 on Saturday afternoon. After the first media timeout, the Rams started running offense and settled down en route to a 2 point deficit at halftime.
St. Bonaventure continued its effective game plan of attacking the press and the offensive glass. The Bonnies finished with 15 offensive rebounds and only 9 turnovers. In the second half, VCU put together a few spurts, but St. Bonaventure had powerful answers including a pair of alley-oops and several timely 3-pointers.
With 14.5 seconds remaining, Jordan Burgess hit a layup to tie the game for the first time since the opening tip-off. St. Bonaventure inbounded the ball and elected not to call a timeout. Marcus Posley, who hit a buzzer-beater to top Davidson on Wednesday, held the ball and hit a circus shot as time expired to seal the victory for the Bonnies:
Terry Larrier finished with 15 points. Melvin Johnson added 11 points. Mo Alie-Cox finished with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots and Jordan Burgess added 10 rebounds.
The win is a huge boon for the surging Bonnies who are 6-4 in conference play after beating Davidson without Jack Gibbs and VCU without Briante Weber and Treveon Graham by a combined 3 points in the same week.
The Rams are now 8-2 in conference play, one win ahead of 7-2 Rhode Island. VCU caught a break with George Washington (7-3) topping Dayton (7-3) in overtime on Saturday. The Atlantic 10 has officially turned into a 14-way slugfest.
While it’s disappointing losing to middle-of-the-pack teams like Richmond and St. Bonaventure, it means VCU still owns tie-breaking wins over many of the top teams which could be valuable when Atlantic 10 Tournament seeding is announced.
The Optimism of Fans
According to KenPom.com, Saturday was VCU’s worst loss since November 18th, 2011 when the Rams lost to #177 Georgia Tech. The Bonnies have lost to Siena, Delaware, and a Maryland Eastern Shore, a team VCU beat 106-66. There are few things better in sports than always feeling the future will be better. On Saturday, the psyche of the fan base was optimistic despite a taxing week.
And there is some reason for optimism. VCU’s offense ended up posting 1.09 points per possession without its best offensive player, shot 9-of-22 from 3-point range, and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds. The dearth of knowns forced Terry Larrier to make things happen and JeQuan Lewis put together the best game of his career while playing like an all-league point guard. This will pay dividends moving forward.
Furthermore, this game was lost on the defensive end with the Rams’ inability to rebound, and struggles to stop forwards Dion Wright (19 points, 8-11 2PFG, 8 rebounds) and Denzel Gregg (10 points, 4-4 2PFG). But the Rams were without their best defensive rebounder in Treveon Graham and Graham would have also spent much of the game guarding Wright who is 6-foot-7, 220 pounds and Gregg who is 6-foot-7, 215 pounds. If Graham is healthy, VCU is probably celebrating a 9-1 conference start.
But for others, it’s frustrating being perpetually “one season away”. After a tough eight days, the Rams’ two loss lead in the Atlantic 10 has evaporated and the VCU’s far-superior roster is now comparable to other teams in a down year for the A-10. Even with the upside of VCU’s young roster, it’s tough to imagine next year being a better opportunity without Treveon Graham and against a much-improved Atlantic 10. Then again, VCU is in the business of proving people wrong.
Top performer: JeQuan Lewis
12 points (0-3 2PFG, 4-7 3PFG), 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 4 steals, 0 turnovers
Saturday’s game certainly wasn’t lost at the point guard position. Lewis was quiet in the first half as he played sparingly with two fouls but he was unquestionably the leader of the Rams in the second half. His ability to strike a balance between scoring and getting others involved will be effective moving forward.
- VCU finished 8-of-14 from the free-throw line.
- JeQuan Lewis now ranks 14th nationally in steal percentage. Briante Weber led the nation in steal percentage every year of his career.
- Justin Tillman is 21-of-32 (.656) from the field in conference play.
- VCU has five of the top-25 players in turnover rate in the conference play. VCU is the 7th best team at protecting the basketball in the country.
- Jarred Guest has started two games in his career. Both were against St. Bonaventure.
VCU hosts La Salle on Wednesday at 7:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
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