Final Score: University of Richmond 53 – Virginia Commonwealth University 71
What Happened: “The Blue & Black Classic: Brooklyn Edition” was all about VCU tonight. Playing in front of a mainly VCU crowd, the Rams, led by guards Briante Weber and Treveon Graham’s combined 32 points, controlled both ends of the court in their 71-53 victory. ShawnDre’ Jones broke out of his shooting slump, going 5-10 for 18 points. Terry Allen chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds. In the first half, Weber scored 16 points and led VCU’s suffocating defense. He scored the game’s first six points and the Rams jumped out to an early 8-1 lead. Despite struggling on offense, Richmond kept the game close for the first 10 minutes. VCU, however, opened up the game with a 15-2 run over a five-minute span that pushed the Rams to a 33-15 lead. The Spiders, who shot 33 percent and committed 10 turnovers in the half, trailed 38-22 at the break. Richmond looked more aggressive early in the second half, scoring nine quick points and cutting VCU’s lead to 13, which led to a VCU timeout. That was as close as Richmond would get for the rest of the game. VCU responded with a 7-0 run, extending its lead to 51-31. From there, the Rams cruised to their blowout victory, earning them a spot in tomorrow’s semifinals against the winner of Massachusetts and George Washington.
Spider Positives: It’s hard to find many positives for the Spiders tonight. ShawnDre’ Jones looked much better against the Rams this time around. He broke out of his shooting slump, and did not turn the ball over in the first half when the Rams’ pressure was at its best. Jones will have no reason to fear VCU’s defense when he plays them again next season. For that matter, all of the Spiders that played tonight will have another shot at the Rams next season. They can take tonight as a learning experience for how to handle VCU’s unique defense. Richmond was dealt a tough hand this season when it lost its two seniors, and yes, there were some times where the Spiders seriously struggled, but what team wouldn’t struggle if it lost two senior starters midseason? There will be a lot of reasons for Richmond fans to be excited when next season comes.
Spider Negatives: Unlike the positives, there were several Spider negatives in what was one of their uglier games of the season. The Spiders could not handle VCU’s heavy pressure, and even when they got open, did not shot well. Richmond’s defense was not nearly as stingy as it has been all season, and the Rams absolutely owned the glass. With that being said, I credit tonight’s game more to VCU playing great than Richmond playing poorly. If the Rams can play defense that well in the NCAA tournament, they are going to be a hard out.
Up Next: Richmond has to wait until selection committees determine its postseason fate. Richmond is a bubble NIT team that could find themselves in the CBI. The Spiders will have to wait until Sunday night to find out where and when they play next.