So this wasn’t entirely unexpected. The VCU Rams held serve on their home court tonight in a convincing 68-52 win over Rhode Island. Virginia Commonwealth’s D came to play as they tallied 13 steals and forced 20 turnovers overall, holding Rhody to their second-lowest scoring output of the season. In addition to the turnovers, the Richmond Rams also held URI to just 35 percent shooting on the night as defense was the story in this one. As a result, Rhode Island is now below .500 for the first time this season as they move to 11-12 (2-6 in Atlantic 10 play).
Rhody kept things close early on in the first half… well, at least for the first eight minutes. But a 13-0 run from VCU saw them open up a 27-11 lead and that pretty much sealed URI’s fate. Rhode Island has just two field goals in the final 12 minutes of the second half, including a 7:05 scoreless drought. Dan Hurley’s Rams also committed four turnovers in that same span as VCU’s HAVOC was most certainly on display.
URI kept things close in the second half, and they even closed to within 12 at 49-37. But VCU used tough defense, good coaching, and an efficient inside game to maintain control of the game throughout. There actually were a few bright spots for Rhody – they held Virginia Commonwealth under 70 points – only the fifth time this year that’s happened in 23 VCU games. Rhode Island also held the home team to a paltry 34 percent shooting, including a combined 9-24 performance from Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic. But defense wins ballgames, plain and simple.
Jarelle Reischel actually led Rhode Island in scoring with 11 points off the bench, though to be fair, nine of those points came in the final 3:30. Garbage time was well underway. Xavier Munford added 10 points, but VCU did a solid job of shutting down both him and E.C. Matthews (five points). Gilvydas Biruta chipped in with nine points and 14 boards, and Hassan Martin added eight points, nine points, and four blocks. But it wasn’t enough to topple one of the better teams in the conference.
We’ll have a more detailed breakdown of this one coming up tomorrow.