Recap: Nameless and faceless Rams romp UMES

A balanced tsunami wave of HAVOC! stormed out to an 18-0 lead and never looked back against the overmatched Hawks of UMES.

#15 Virginia Commonwealth University stormed past the Hawks of Maryland Eastern Shore 106-66 Thursday night in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.


We wanted to come out here and play nameless and faceless.Melvin Johnson

Just sixteen seconds into Thursday’s game, Hawks’ coach Bobby Collins was forced to call a timeout. Briante Weber, who was less than 48 hours removed from the best game of his career, had just scored on an aggressive drive, and the Rams’ full-court defense was a fraction of a fraction of a second away from forcing a 5-second violation on the inbounds.

16 seconds–less time than it usually takes Coach Smart to remove his jacket–was all it took for the nameless, faceless wave of HAVOC! to rattle UMES.

The 30 second timeout did little to slow the Rams’ pace. That wave quickly became a tsunami of HAVOC! as VCU jumped out to a starter-fueled 18-0 lead in the first 3:40. Six minutes into the game, the delineation between starter and sub blurred as ten different Rams had already scored a basket.

UMES regrouped and pulled within 12 points with 8:44 remaining, but lineups including freshmen Michael Gilmore, Terry Larrier, Justin Tillman, and Jonathan Williams, sophomore Doug Brooks, and senior Treveon Graham sparked a 23-4 run to end the first half and give VCU a 61-30 lead at the break.

In the second half, VCU’s starters rode the pine as younger guys took over the show. A sold-out crowd of 7,637 watched as Larrier, Tillman, and Brooks started putting the pieces together in real time. Larrier was sensational en route to 21 points, Brooks added 11 and some impressive defense, and Tillman added 10 more including two early dunks and three blocks.

The entire bench combined for 64 points. All fourteen players including JeQuan Lewis, who missed Tuesday’s game after suffering a concussion against Tennessee, played. It was a team effort loaded with selflessness.

The opposition was hardly comparable to VCU’s remaining non-conference schedule that includes #12 Villanova, #24 Michigan or Oregon, #9 Virginia, Cincinnati, and a host of talented mid-major teams eager for a shot at VCU, but it was an important identity-establishing, confidence-building win for a team with only four upperclassmen.

Top performer: Terry Larrier

21 points (3-3 2PFG, 4-7 3PFG), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 turnovers, 1 block, 2 steals

[Tre] tells me to keep playing hard, to keep shooting, and to be confident.Terry Larrier

After shooting 3-of-14 in his first two games in black & gold, Terry Larrier looked comfortable Thursday as he finished with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting including four smooth 3-pointers. His confidence was tangible and on possession after possession he snuck into the corner where he waited to drain bombs.

Since the start of the season he has been encouraged by an obvious role model. Treveon Graham, who’s on pace to set the VCU all-time scoring record, started his career shooting 1-of-16 through four games. The 2011-12 Rams transformed as Graham matured en route to a CAA Tournament Championship and an upset over 5th-seeded Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.

The 2014-15 Rams won’t need to rely on Larrier the same way that team relied on Graham, but the tangible improvement expediently adds another weapon in the arsenal of HAVOC!.

5 stats

  • Through 44 minutes of basketball, Briante Weber has 20 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists, 0 turnovers, and 11 steals.
  • None of VCU’s starters played more than fifteen minutes and 13 of 14 Rams scored.
  • Through three games, VCU is averaging 92.7 PPG.
  • The Rams finished the first half 10-of-16 (.625) from 3-point range.
  • Treveon Graham quietly added 17 points and became VCU’s 15th 1,400 point scorer.

Looking forward

VCU travels to Brooklyn to face #12 Villanova in the semi-finals of the Legends Classic on Monday at 7:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 2.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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