BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It’s Rams and Hawks in the Atlantic 10 championship.
VCU was set to appear in its second consecutive A-10 title game after defeating George Washington 74-55 in the semifinals at Barclays Center. For the Rams, a 21-8 spurt over the final eight minutes transformed a two-possession lead into a rout.
Resiliency. We use or sometimes overuse the word. On this afternoon it was appropriate to utilize in reference to VCU. They lost Melvin Johnson in the early part of the game. The extent of his knee injury was undetermined by post game wrap-ups. “When Melvin went down, we lost a very good player and a good teammate,” said VCU coach Shaka Smart. The Rams also struggled with the George Washington zone and fell behind early. “Coach said to get in the gaps of the zone and attack,” said VCU junior guard Briante Weber. “Play hard and attack, that is what we do.”
As noted, the Colonials fought gamely and were right in the thick of things at the under-8 media time out. At that point the constant pressure, quick pace and overall strong defense turned the tide. The lone Colonial field goal during that juncture was a three-pointer by Nemanja Mikic. Said Smart, “the last six to eight minutes, we extended our lead with defense.”
George Washington, at 24-8, is virtually set to get on the board Selection Sunday. VCU at 26-7 is in a similar position and has the opportunity to secure that automatic bid.
Numbers of Note
- The pace was 64 possessions, more to George Washington’s preference as VCU enjoys a high octane 70 or more possessions. The efficiency was undeniably a display of defense. VCU held the Colonials to an 85 offensive efficiency while ringing up a 114 of their own.
- VCU’s Treveon Graham led all scorers with 22 points. Isaiah Armwood paced the Colonials with 15. The Rams did a stellar job limiting Patricio Garino (“a possible pro prospect” in the estimation of Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli) to six points on 2 of 9 shooting.