BROOKLYN – In much the same fashion as the rest of their victories lately, Thursday’s win over Fordham in the A-10 tournament didn’t come easy for VCU.
Treveon Graham led the Rams with 22 points and Brooklyn native Melvin Johnson had 16 including 4 three pointers, but as a team, VCU shot only 31 percent for the game, relying on pressure defense and a decided rebounding advantage for the win.
“If we shoot a low percentage, then our margin for error is not very big” said VCU head coach Shaka Smart. “We got some big stops at the end and I think that was the difference.”
“You’re not going to make all of your shots” said Graham. “In some games, they’re not going to fall. So you have to worry about things that are more important like defense.”
“If we get stops, we’re going to be pretty good.”
Terry Larrier added 10 for VCU who outrebounded Fordham 43-35 including pulling down 20 offensive rebounds. But Fordham still held a 4 point lead with 9 minutes to go before Mo Alie-Cox started a breakaway with one of his two blocks that eventually led to another Johnson three.
VCU will now face the Richmond Spiders in Friday’s quarterfinals, the third meeting of the year between these two. The Spiders swept the regular season series, meaning there will be no lack of motivation in the Rams locker room tomorrow.
“The game should be interesting” said Johnson. “When we saw the (A-10 tournament) bracket, we saw that we had an opportunity to play these guys again. That lit a fire under everybody.”
“What we need to do (against Richmond) is a better job of what we call KYP, know your personnel” Smart said. “Last time, some guys got away from us and if we can do a better job there, that will really help us.”
“Of course when we play them, there’s a lot of hype around the game” said Spiders senior guard Kendall Anthony. “It would be good for the city of Richmond. But we have to be ready to compete no matter who we play.”
The Spiders will attempt to be the first team since UNC-Wilmington back in 1998 to beat VCU three times in the same season. However, VCU is a perfect 4-0 alltime against Richmond in post season games. Friday’s tip off is scheduled for 2:30.