Final Score: Richmond 50 – VCU 56
What Happened: Richmond led Virginia Commonwealth University for the game’s first 29 minutes, but the Rams fought back to take a late second-half lead. Kendall Anthony led the Spiders with 20 points, but he could not find a bucket when the Spiders were down two with under 20 seconds left. Treveon Graham led the Rams with 18 points and added 10 rebounds. Richmond, which did not trail in the first half, held a 26-22 lead at the break. Anthony scored five points in the first minute, and ShawnDre’ Jones hit a pull-up 3-pointer to give Richmond an early 8-2 lead. Richmond’s forwards struggled to score early, and Nelson-Ododa, who led Richmond with nine first-half points, was the first forward to score when he hit a 3-pointer, despite being fouled. Richmond led 16-8 after the foul shot. Richmond led by as much as 10, but Treveon Graham’s sharp shooting kept VCU close. An and-1 by Nelson-Ododa, followed by a thunderous slam in transition by Deion Taylor, gave Richmond some breathing room heading into the half. VCU’s Havoc defense forced Richmond into 10 first-half turnovers, but the Rams committed nine themselves. Richmond, which is last in the A-10 in rebounding, out-rebounded VCU 16-13, and held the conference’s best offensive rebounding team to three offensive boards in the opening half. Four minutes into the second half, VCU coach Shaka Smart called a timeout after Anthony drilled a pull-up three that put Richmond up 33-24. VCU responded with a 10-4 run, cutting Richmond’s lead to 37-34 and brining the abundance of Rams’ fans at the game to life. Anthony hit his second 3-pointer, extending Richmond’s lead to six, but VCU exploded on a 10-0 run to take a 44-40 lead — its first lead of the game. Richmond tied the game at 44, but five quick VCU points gave the Rams a 49-44 lead with 6:00 remaining. Anthony hit his third 3-pointer with 1:34 left, cutting VCU’s lead to 52-50. Richmond had a chance to tie the game with under 10 seconds left, but both Anthony and Nelson-Ododa missed. Graham and Rob Brandenberg hit four consecutive foul shots to secure the victory.
Spider Positives: This had to be the best Richmond rebounded all season. Richmond’s forwards looked possessed whenever a shot missed, as they kept one of the A-10′s best rebounding teams from owning the glass. Trey Davis was held scoreless, but he grabbed 12 rebounds. Even though VCU ended up out-rebounding the Spiders, Richmond’s rebounding kept them tight with VCU throughout. Richmond’s match-up zone caused VCU a lot of trouble. The Spiders forced the Rams into 38.5 percent shooting and did not surrender many easy baskets. Richmond played inspired team defense — much better than it played when it allowed 81 points to the Rams in February. Not surprisingly, Richmond’s fans were phenomenal. The student section was packed well before the game and much of the arena was on its feet for most of the game. The fans showed their appreciation of what could be Richmond’s final home game of the season.
Spider Negatives: It’s hard to criticize ShawnDre’ Jones, given he is a freshman facing VCU’s Havoc for the first time, but he played one of his worst games since Cedrick Lindsay’s injury. Jones hit an early 3-pointer, but went on to miss his final 10 shots. In addition, VCU’s pressure defense forced Jones into five turnovers. Luckily for Jones, he still will have several shots in the next three years to beat the Rams. Richmond’s offense as a whole struggled yet again. During this three-game losing streak, Richmond has failed to shoot better than 40 percent. It’s hard for a team to win games when it continually shoots that poorly. Richmond now must win the A-10 tournament to get a bid, and if that doesn’t happen, Richmond can hope to get a home National Invitation Tournament game.
Up Next: Richmond will travel to University of Dayton to take on the Flyers in its regular season finale Saturday.