VCU survived a horrendous first half to top Fordham 75-58 in the Bronx Sunday afternoon.
VCU survived a horrendous first half to top Fordham 75-58 in the Bronx this Sunday afternoon.
With 17:19 remaining in the second half, JeQuan Lewis’s first free-throw rimmed out. The second…clank. Despite having not trailed an opponent since a double-overtime victory over Northern Iowa on December 13th, VCU was clinging to a 38-37 lead over perennial bottom-dweller Fordham, and fans everywhere were sitting on their edge of their seats, bar stools, and sofas. The misses were a microcosm of the first 23 minutes of the Sunday slop-fest.
Seconds later, Mo Alie-Cox stole the ball and fed it to Briante Weber for 2 points. JeQuan Lewis responded with a 3-pointer and a sense of all-is-right-in-the-world settled over Ram Nation. The spark fueled VCU to a seventeen point victory, but the Rams were far from flawless.
VCU looked strong early. Fordham couldn’t score on the Ram’s stifling press and Terry Larrier, in his home borough, hit a pair of corner 3-pointers. But Fordham responded with a 14-3 run to stay competitive. VCU lent a helping hand with seventeen mostly head-scratching turnovers and an abysmal 14-of-30 performance from the charity stripe.
Fordham added 26 turnovers, a season high for VCU, but when they beat the press they were extremely effective at hitting the pull-up midrange jumper between VCU’s recovering guards and shot-blocking tandem of Mo Alie-Cox and Justin Tillman.
The ultimate difference in the game came on the heels of the emotional basement of JeQuan Lewis missing those back-to-back free-throws. VCU held Fordham scoreless for 6:44 and went on a 14-0 run: knock-out punch.
In an eighteen game conference slate, teams are bound to underperform a few times — especially on the road. Hopefully Sunday was one of those days, because worse things have happened than underperforming en route to a 17-point victory.
Sunday was VCU’s sixth straight victory, and the Rams should rejoin the AP Top-25 on Monday. Treveon Graham finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Melvin Johnson (9 points) and Terry Larrier (8 points) were effective early in their home borough of the Bronx. Jordan Burgess did not play because of an ankle injury. He’s currently day-to-day.
Top performer: Briante Weber
14 points (6-8 2PFG), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 steals, 2 turnovers
VCU’s struggles were most apparent when Weber left the court and Lewis and Williams took over. When Weber was on the court, there was a different level of energy that is reflected by his gaudy box score.
- Treveon Graham hasn’t turned the ball over since the 1st half against ODU on November 29th. That’s greater than 260 minutes of action, 152 points, and 20 assists without a turnover.
- VCU entered Sunday ranked 6th nationally in offensive turnover % having turned the ball over 22 times in the last three games combined.
- Entering Sunday, VCU averaged 63.4 possessions per 40 minutes over their last five games. Sunday was an 80 possession game.
- Melvin Johnson averaged 16.3 PPG with a 54.8 eFG% through the first nine games of the season. He’s averaging 9.8 PPG with a 46.9 eFG% over the last five games.
- Briante Weber jumped from 10th to 5th on the NCAA all-time steals list.
VCU returns home to host Davidson on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM.
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