Score: VCU 70, Howard 60
Location: Richmond, Va. (Stuart C. Siegel Center)
Records: VCU 6-4, Howard 4-8
The short story: A quartet of Rams, led by Graduate forward Brandon Johns Jr. at 16 points, scored in double figures as the Black and Gold got out to a 10-point halftime lead and held on to beat the visiting Bison Sunday night.
- Johns filled out the box score, scoring 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Additionally, Johns snagged seven rebounds and racked up a career-high three blocks, leading the team in both of those categories
- Junior guard Josh Banks had a career night, setting career-best marks in both points (11) and rebounds (5)
- Sophomore forward Jalen Deloach put up 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, eight of which came in the first half. Deloach left the game with a knee injury at about five minutes to go in the first half, but was able to come back to play 15 minutes in the second half
- Senior forward David Shriver was the fourth and final Ram in double figures, scoring 10 points on 4-of-9 from the field, including 2-of-6 from beyond the arc
- Howard had three double-figure scorers themselves, with Steve Settle III, Bryce Harris, and Jordan Wood scoring 18, 13, and 12 points, respectively
- Howard got the early lead with a 10-2 run in the first 4:02, but the Black and Gold outscored the visiting Bison 39-21 for the rest of the opening half to take a 41-31 lead to the locker room
- The Rams grew their lead to 12 before the Bison went on a 7-0 run over the course of three minutes to cut the margin to five at the under 16 media timeout
- VCU responded with a 7-0 run of their run over 1:50 to swell the lead back to 10, at 57-47 with 10:06 left. The Rams kept Howard at arm’s length for the rest of the game, not allowing Howard to get any closer than five points. VCU and Howard scored 29 points apiece as the Rams maintained their 10-point halftime lead at the final buzzer
- The bench players came up big for the Black and Gold, outscoring Howard’s bench 23-10
- The Rams improved to 21-2 against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), including two wins this season, defeating Morgan State earlier this season
- Junior guard Ace Baldwin Jr., the Rams’ leading scorer this season, did not play due to a sprained left wrist
- VCU improves to 21-2 when leading at halftime, dating back to the beginning of the 2021-22 season
“Proud of our guys. We had some resolve there to finish the game off. I just thought we had more intensity and stuck more to the game plan then we have the last two games. Just proud of our guys. We had two really hard days of practice the last two days to get ready for this one and thought the guys responded the right way.” – VCU Head Coach Mike Rhoades
“I think it’s really important to start off the game with great intensity and great effort and really important to end the game with great intensity and great effort. If you don’t end the game well, how you going to win. So I think we were very disciplined tonight. We had a couple of fouls that we could’ve been more disciplined on. I think overall we have been working the past two days on defense and I think it’s going to be more of an emphasis for us and I think we did pretty well with it tonight.” – Brandon Johns Jr. on finishing off the game strong
“I thought we did a good job. I thought some guys gave us really good energy early to get us going in the game and it carried over for most of the first half…I just challenged these guys, well I didn’t challenge them, I told them that if they don’t play till exhaustion they’re not playing. And we’ll make mistakes, that’s how it goes but when you’re not playing well individually, you become sensitive to what may occur, and then what happens is you forget to play really hard. That’s competition. It happens to lots of young competitors. And I said that’s not us, that’s not my team, that’s not our team, that’s not VCU. We’re gonna play till exhaustion and if you don’t your coming out. And it’s nothing personal because you got to play for the name on the front of the jersey more than anything. That’s really important around here.” –Rhoades on playing to exhaustion
The Rams’ six-game December homestand continues on Wednesday, Dec. 14 when in-state rival Radford comes to the Siegel Center. Tip-off against the Highlanders is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on MASN and streamed on ESPN+.
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