Sports

Battle 4 Atlantis Recap

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By Gabe Hauari

The Rams were a part of a loaded field in this year’s rendition of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The 8-team tournament featured the Rams along with Michigan State, Louisville, St. Johns, Wichita State, Old Dominion, and LSU.

VCU vs. Baylor:

The Rams started off the tournament with their first loss of the season, a 71-63 loss to the Baylor Bears. JeQuan Lewis notched 21 points, including six 3-pointers, and the Rams also double digit efforts from Hamdy (14 points) and Johnny Williams (12 points).

Baylor was able to overwhelm VCU with their size, as they out-rebounded the Rams 34-26, including 13 offensive rebounds. The Bears also shot 33 free throws compared to just 19 for the Rams.

Baylor was led by junior forward Johnathan Motley, who notched a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Baylor also got double-digit nights from junior guards Manu Lecomte and Al Freeman, who had 16 and 15 points, respectively.

“I think we played really well for about 25 minutes,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “It got away from us in the last 15 minutes,” he added.

It was a tale of two halves for the Rams, as they shot 58% from the field in the first half en route to a 36-28 first half lead.

However, the second half proved to be more difficult, as they shot just 35% and allowed Baylor back into the game.

“When you’re shooting well and the game’s coming easy on the offensive end, it’s easy to have that carry over on the defensive end,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

VCU vs. St Johns:

The Rams responded the following day with a 75-69 victory of Red Storm of St. Johns. The Rams were led by Johnny Williams, who had a career-high 22 points. Mo Alie-Cox and JeQuan Lewis each chipped in 15 points for the Rams, and Justin Tillman added 7 points and 13 rebounds to give VCU a balanced effort offensively.

VCU was once again out-rebounded by its opponent (40-36), but they forced 14 turnovers and made plays defensively all game. The Rams also shot 47% from deep (7-15) and held St. Johns to just 33% from beyond the arc.

The Red Storm had four players score in double figures, led by freshman guard Shamorie Ponds with 18.

“I think we played a good game but didn’t finish it off,” Red Storm coach Chris Mullin said. “We probably played 25-30 good minutes last game, probably about 30 tonight. We’ve got to get it to 40 minutes.”

VCU coach Will Wade was pleased with how his team responded after a tough loss to Baylor.

“We’d been preparing for that for a while — we put a ton into that game,” Wade said. “It was a little bit of a gut-punch when we had the lead in the second half and couldn’t close it out. So I’m really proud of the way our guys responded,” he said in reference to the Baylor game.

VCU vs. LSU:

In the first-ever meeting between the two schools, VCU pulled out an 85-74 victory over the Tigers in the fifth-place game.

The Rams were led by JeQuan Lewis and Justin Tillman in this game, but got solid contributions from Doug Brooks, Ahmed Hamdy, and redshirt freshman guard Samir Doughty.

Lewis had 19 points and 9 assist, while Tillman tacked on 17 points and 8 rebounds. Lewis made half of the Rams 3-pointers while Tillman did most of his damage in the interior, shooting 8-for-9 from the floor.

VCU forced 18 LSU turnovers in this one, being aggressive on defense all night. Offensively, the Rams had just 8 turnovers and generally took good care of the ball.

“I think we got off to a better start the second half,” VCU coach Will Wade said. “By the first media (timeout) we’d expanded the lead by just a point but we hadn’t given any ground like we had in the Baylor game,” he added.

The Tigers were led by guards Antonio Blakeney and Skylar Mays, who each had 14 points. Both teams were below average from beyond the arc and from the free throw line, but ultimately turnovers were the difference.

“I thought once we got in half-court sets, we did a decent job of defending,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said. “But when we were turning the ball over, it was very quick, easy scoring opportunities for them and they fed off that. We had entirely too many turnovers in the second half,” he added.

The Rams come home to face the Princeton Tigers on Tuesday night at 7 pm. Stay tuned to Rams Review for coverage of the game!

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