While it wasn’t pretty, the Rams got it done, winning their first Atlantic 10 road game against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, 72-65.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams came into the Reilly Center riding a 10-game winning streak. St. Bonaventure came in on a four-game losing streak, one of the worst in recent program history. While it wasn’t pretty, the Rams got it done, winning their first Atlantic 10 road game, 72-65.
The Rams and Bonnies traded leads for the first ten minutes of the game. Neither team would lead by more than four, and HAVOC! seemed to have forgotten to get off the bus. Treveon Graham, who’s been stellar for VCU this year, picked up his first foul just 78 seconds into the game, and with 16:35 left in the first half, Graham headed to the bench after picking up his second foul. He’d only play eight minutes in the half, with four points (things would change for the sophomore in the second half, though).
With Graham on the bench, Coach Smart sent Jarred Guest to work in what were some of the most meaningful minutes of his career to date. Guest played nine minutes in the first half, picked up seven points, three rebounds, and a steal. It was Guest’s dunk-like putback at 10:44 that put the Rams up 13-11, a lead they’d hold for the rest of the game.
But the Bonnies just wouldn’t quit. Every time VCU made a move to establish a comfortable lead, St. Bonaventure would answer–and usually it was senior Demitrius Conger doing the answering. Riding back-to-back threes, the Bonnies cut the Rams’ lead to just three at the half, and Ram fans were starting to worry. After twenty minutes of play VCU had six steals and ten turnovers. Ramburglar Briante Weber had only two steals, Darius Theus had none, the team’s leading scorer was Jarred Guest, with seven. Things were definitely out of whack for the Rams.
Luckily Treveon Graham returned in the second half and righted the Black & Gold ship. He’d go a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, grab five rebounds, and began to punish in the paint. As HAVOC! slowly began to wear down the Bonnies, VCU’s lead slowly began to grow. With eight minutes left in the game, St. Bonaventure went on a four minute scoring drought while the Rams were busy scoring eight unanswered points. Of course, as they did the entire night, the Bonnies answered with four straight 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the game.
The Rams would ultimately get out of New York with a victory, but it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t HAVOC!. They’d end the night with seven steals, the fewest in a game not against teams named Duke or Mizzou. The Bonnies turned the ball over 16 times, which is five fewer than Rams’ opponents’ average of 21 (and the fewest in any VCU win not against ODU). The Bonnies hit 11 threes, more than any opponent this season, and VCU only sunk five. The Rams are shooting just 23.4% beyond the arc over the last three games, and have only hit five 3-pointers in each of those games.
Top performer: Treveon Graham
17PT, 9RB, 1AST, 3TO, 0BLK, 0STL
BREAKING NEWS: Treveon Graham is a sophomore, and it’s hard to imagine what he’ll do after two more years in Coach Smart’s system. Last night, despite picking up two fouls in the first four minutes, Graham had 17 points, nine rebounds, and was generally an unstoppable force–they don’t call him the “Freight Train” for nothing. Graham did a little of everything against the Bonnies: he shot well, he drove to the hoop like a champ, and he picked up critical rebounds. This week, he also picked up some national recognition, making CBSSports.com’s midseason top 50 player’s list, and against the Bonnies he showed why.
This guy! In our preview, we told you to keep an eye on #11. He came into the game averaging 13.6PPG for the Bonnies and wound up dropping 19 on the Rams. His four three-pointers are his most in a game this season and tie his career record. It seemed like every time the Rams had a chance to push the lead to a safe margin, there was Conger, banging down another three. Frustrating stuff.
Conger’s final 3-pointer, with :34 seconds remaining, pushed his career points total to 1,002. He’s just the 39th Bonnie to break 1,000.
- VCU’s 11-game winning streak ties the longest streak of Coach Smart’s career which was set last season between January 12th and February 11th.
- St. Bonaventure hit .440 of their 3-point attempts, the highest percentage against VCU all season. The second highest was last game against Dayton when the Flyers connected on 9-21 (.429)
- Treveon Graham has scored double digits in each of his past 10 games. He’s averaging 19.25PPG over the last four games.
- Freshman guard Melvin Johnson is 31-53 from 2-point range this season which is good for a team leading .585 from inside the arc.
- Regression to the mean: after back-to-back 90%+ free-throw performances, VCU shot 15-27 (.556) from the charity stripe, their second lowest percentage of the season.
VCU takes on Saint Joseph’s this Thursday at 9:00 PM in the Siegel Center. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.