By Gabe Hauari
Photos by Erin Edgerton
It took an extra five minutes, but VCU beat Richmond 87-77 in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament to advance to the title game tomorrow afternoon. VCU was led by senior guard JeQuan Lewis, who scored 18 points. The Rams also got big games from Samir Doughty (17 points), Mo Alie-Cox (15 points), and Justin Tillman (11 points, 14 rebounds).
Richmond was led by freshman guard De’Monte Buckingham, who had a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting. The Spiders also got double-digit contributions from Nick Sherod (15 points), Khawn Fore (13 points), ShawnDre’ Jones (11 points) and TJ Cline (10 points).
Richmond held a 71-68 lead when Lewis hit a clutch 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Jones missed the ensuing jumper for Richmond.
VCU put an emphasis on pounding the ball in the paint, and it paid off, as the Rams enjoyed a 56-30 advantage in points in the paint. They also out-rebounded the Spiders 45-29. The Rams also outscored Richmond 16-6 in the overtime period to put the game away.
“We scored 56 points in the paint. That’s our formula,” said VCU head coach Will Wade. “Hamdy was great. Doughty was great. We need to get the ball in the paint. That’s where they both do their work,” he added.
Mo and Tillman combined to collect 23 rebounds for the day, something Will Wade surely took notice of. “He’s a freak of nature, that’s why he’s gonna play in the NFL or wherever he wants to play!” said Wade.
TJ Cline, the conference player of the year, was in foul trouble for much of the second half. However, Richmond coach Chris Mooney thought his team adjusted well to that.
“TJ didn’t have his best game, but I thought we responded to that pretty well. We played well without him,” said Mooney.
VCU will play Rhode Island in the title game tomorrow afternoon at 12:30. Rhode Island came away with a win the last time they faced each other, a 69-59 rock fight at Rhode Island on Feb. 25.
“Oh they’re deep. They’re an NCAA tournament team whether they win or lose tomorrow. They’re good,” said Wade on Rhode Island.
“They’re the one team in the league that is as or more physical than we are,” he added. “It’s going to be a low-scoring game tomorrow. It’s going to be a grind-it-out game.”
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