RICHMOND- It all began with a warm reception as VCU honored their 5 seniors who contributed to the success of the program.
The ceremony included G De’Riante Jenkins who stepped away from the program just a few days ago.
The game was not rose petals. It was a complete scene of devastation as VCU fell to visiting Duquesne 80-77 in OT in the last home game this season.
The Rams now move to 18-12 (8-9) while Duquesne moves to 21-8 (10-7).
Marcus Santos-Silva was the star of the game. The junior lead VCU with 24 points and 8 rebounds while Bones Hyland and Isaac Vann each added 13 points. 4 players had above 10 points.
Tavian Dunn-Martin led the Dukes with 24 points and X rebounds. B chipped in X points. C players finished with above 10 points.
VCU still remains at 8th in the A-10 standings/drops to 9th in the Atlantic 10 Standings heading into their final game of the regular season against Davidson.
This is also Duquesne’s first ever victory over the Rams and it came in a tough overtime contest.
VCU started the game on a 6-0 run including a dunk from Hason Ward that got the Rams crowd rolling. Duquesne came back quickly but VCU pulled to a lead and stretched the court with a new style of play.
The Rams led by as much as 10 in the first half and dominated in the paint with their physicality. They forced 9 turnovers and scored 6 points while only giving up 2 points on 4 turnovers.
The Dukes were shooting 80% FT while VCU only shot 43%. The Rams also shot 25% from beyond the arc compared to Duquesne’s 22%.
Duquesne out-rebounded VCU 17-16 in the first half and but only had 4 points off the bench in the first half compared to VCU’s 9. The Rams lead 30-26 at intermission.
“In the first half, we looked like the team that beat LSU even with the absences and injuries” Kris Gordon said. “But the second half was when we needed to really come out”.
VCU came out in the second half with senior Isaac Vann dropping a key three to bring the lead to 7. Duquesne however, showed why they won as many games as they did with an aggressive steal that led to cutting the deficit to 4.
Santos-Silva continued to dominate in the second half but the Dukes showed why they had won 20 games and kept fighting back with shots from all over the court
The Dukes went on a 12-2 run brought the game to within 2 with 4:19 left to play in the game. A time-out would be called and VCU, while still in the lead, had clearly lost momentum.
With 3:27 to go however, Duquesne began to foul constantly, sending the Rams to the FT line and VCU took full advantage to help increase their lead to 67-61 with 3:06 left.
Duquesne brought it back to 1 with 1:30 left to go in the game. VCU at that point had gone 6 minutes without a shot. Santos-Silva however, refused to go down easy and stole the ball for a 2 point shot that gave VCU a 3-point lead with 29 seconds left to play. The game would be tied going into overtime.
Duquesne would force VCU to continue their bad trend of missed FT’s and ultimately won on a 10-7 run to close the game.
VCU was out-rebounded out-rebound the Rams 40-29 despite having their biggest lead at 12 on the night.
The Rams managed to shoot 51% of their shots compared to 47.4% for Duquesne and even hit 33% of 3’s compared to 22%.
In the end, the FT’s were the story. 65.4% for the Dukes and 52% for the Rams. 0 in overtime.
“It hurts for sure” Justin Tall said. “But what happened afterwards makes it even more upsetting”.
What happened afterwards? Allegedly, it was an altercation following the game that spun out of control and upset Rams fans profoundly.
“One of the guys (Duquesne allegedly) near me went to heckle them (VCU) as they ran to the locker room, and somebody there, I don’t know if it was a fan, player, or coach; called him an inappropriate word” Gordon said.
That looks very classless indeed if it is true that a Duquesne member. Their first victory over VCU ever and now taunting? That’s a lack of sportsmanship IF it is true.
This season has been a rocky ride for all the seniors who have given their heart to the program and they end up playing their last home game in a loss.
Head coach Mike Rhoades was seen in tears of joy following last week’s win over George Washington as he has battled through this season of high emotions and ups and downs.
Tonight, he shed more tears of defeat as it was the last home game in the Stu this season.
Still, there is no time to waste as they head into the season finale and with a bye on the line, nothing short of maximum effort is expected.
“We need to get strong and healthy because time is running out for us”, Tall said.
VCU takes on the Davidson Wildcats at the McKillop Arena in the season finale on Friday March 6th. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.