Early run un­done by ’Cats

VCU’s of­fense goes cold as David­son finds its stroke late

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - SPORTS + - BY WAYNE EPPS JR.

DAVID­SON, N.C. — On Satur­day at David­son, VCU coach Mike Rhoades thought his team bat­tled, played hard and hon­ored the scout­ing re­port.

But putting it all to­gether and fin­ish­ing was where the team lapsed.

The Rams played qual­ity de­fense and led by a high of 12 points mid­way through the sec­ond half, af­ter a dom­i­nant start to the half. David­son hung around, though, and made some big shots late. The Wild­cats jumped ahead with 1:39 to play and held on for a 64-57 vic­tory at Belk Arena.

David­son has now won 19 of its last 20 at home.

“You knew they were

go­ing to make a run, they have too many good play­ers,” Rhoades said. “And the way they play, es­pe­cially at home.

“But I told [the play­ers], ‘This has got to fuel you to get bet­ter. This has got to fuel you. And, you take the own­er­ship and the re­spon­si­bil­ity of, this can’t hap­pen again, let’s get bet­ter from it.’” “

With the loss, VCU fell to 11-5 over­all, and 2-1 in the At­lantic 10. David­son is now 12-4, and 3-0 in the A-10.

The Wild­cats shot 34.5 per­cent in the sec­ond half, and fin­ished at 38.2 per­cent over­all.

But they’re one of the most dan­ger­ous 3-point shoot­ing teams in the At­lantic 10. And they hit three of their seven to­tal 3-point­ers in the fi­nal 3:52 to help them claw back, tie the game and ex­tend their lead late.

Kel­lan Grady, who fin­ished with a game-high 21 points, had one with 3:52 to go to pull David­son to within 4 points, 55-51. KiShawn Pritch­ett had one that tied the game at 55 with 2:29 to go. Then Luke Framp­ton’s 3 with 1:09 re­main­ing pushed the Wild­cats’ ad­van­tage to 60-55.

“Down the stretch, they just made more shots than us,” VCU guard De’RIante Jenk­ins said. “That’s what won the game.”

David­son led 28-25 at half­time af­ter a 5-point spurt to fin­ish the first half, that in­cluded a 3 by Pritch­ett. But VCU shut down the Wild­cats out of the break.

They were held score­less for a 6 ½-minute seg­ment early in the sec­ond half, as VCU went on a 16-0 run to take a 41-31 lead with 13:07 to play.

The run in­cluded a pair of 3-point­ers by Jenk­ins.

“We just came out know­ing the shots were go­ing to fall,” VCU guard Mar­cus Evans said. “And, came out the sec­ond half, it did. And it just added on.”

David­son re­mained within strik­ing dis­tance, how­ever. Back-to-back bas­kets by Luka Bra­jkovic cut the VCU lead to 51-46 with 6:01 to play. An­other bas­ket by Bra­jkovic gave the Wild­cats their first lead since early in the sec­ond half, 57-55, with 1:39 re­main­ing. They never gave it back up.

In the fi­nal 7:34, VCU went 0 of 10 from the field. The team fin­ished 4 of 24 from deep.

“We had some good shots and good ac­tions,” Rhoades said. “We didn’t make enough open 3s to­day. We had some wideopen, T-up 3s. And we didn’t make them. And you have to against teams like that, be­cause you’re not go­ing to get a lot of those open pos­ses­sions.”

Evans led VCU with 16 points, but fin­ished 1 of 7 from deep. Jenk­ins added 10 points, but was 2 of 7 from deep.

Jenk­ins said the Rams have to use Satur­day’s game to get bet­ter.

They’ll face an­other chal­lenge back at home against Day­ton (10-5, 2-0 A-10) on Wed­nes­day night.

“It was close but it wasn’t good enough,” Rhoades said of Satur­day’s out­ing. “And that just says that we got work to do, but that’s what’s great about this league, you got to show up ev­ery night to be ready to play.”

COURTESY OF TIM COWIE

VCU’s Isaac Vann (23) drives to­ward the bas­ket against David­son. Vann scored just 4 points on 1-of-7 shoot­ing as the Rams fell to the Wild­cats in David­son, N.C.

COURTESY OF TIM COWIE

David­son’s Kel­lan Grady (left) posts up against VCU’s Mar­cus Evans. Grady tal­lied a game-high 21 points for the Wild­cats, while Evans scored a team-high 16 for the Rams.

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