RICHMOND- Hours before tipoff, a statement was released, rocking the hearts of VCU Rams fans.
Senior star De’Riante Jenkins announced that he would be stepping away from the team due to personal health issues.
In his place, senior Mike’L Simms would start. With three other players sidelined, the bench would have to respond.In place of an injured Corey Douglas came senior Malik Crowfield.
The Rams responded with an 75-51 win against the visiting George Washington Colonials. This ends their 5 game losing streak to put their record at 18-11 (8-8 in A-10).
Simms led the way with 14 points. Four VCU players reached double digits.
George Washington now drops to 12-16 (6-10 A-10) on the year. Maceo Jack led the Colonials with 12 points. 3 players reached double digits.
The Rams maintain their spot at the 8th seed in the A-10 heading into the tournament in Brooklyn which will be held in two weeks.
“Hopefully it springs momentum in the A-10 tournament”, Jason Boleman said.
The Rams started the game with a barrage of 3’s including hitting their first four attempts beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, GW favored an approach of attacking in the paint after hitting the first points of the game….beyond the arc.
Near the end of the first half, junior Keshawn Curry had two signature dunks that sent the student section into chaos.
The Rams would take a 32-28 lead into the second half with Simms having 11 points.
“They kept the offense going with Simms and Hyland and those 3’s were important”, Adam Cheek said.
In the second half, VCU seemed to regain their high intensity from earlier in the season when they started 6-0 including a big win over LSU.
The Colonials on the other hand, looked for whistles to give them a spark as they struggled to make shots.
With a little over 12:30 in the second half, freshman Hason Ward flashed a signature dunk which resembled the great Brianté Weber.
Head Coach Mike Rhoades even showed intensity as he got the crowd going into a frenzy by jumping around and pumping everyone up with 3:50 left in the game.
Freshman fan favorite Arnold Henderson even got in on the action and dropped 4 points.
VCU converted on 56% FG against 39% for GW. The Rams also went 8-16 beyond the arc while the Colonials went 5-18. In FT, it was 61%-53% VCU.
VCU also out-rebounded GW 30-27 while getting 33 points from the bench compared to 15.
The Rams also scored 22 points off 16 turnovers while GW scored 6 points off 8 turnovers.
The Rams at one point led by 26 points with 2:08 left to go in the game. They didn’t lead the game for only one minute.
This season didn’t go at all like VCU expected. From being preseason favorites to now struggling despite an encouraging win.
This game however, showed that the Rams do have some fight in them. Especially with the sudden leave of their talented senior whom they hope will return soon.
“I wish him (Jenkins) the best hopefully he’s ok”, Boleman said.
VCU takes on Duquesne on senior night next Tuesday 3/3 at 7. The game will be broadcast on MASN.