It was a cold, snowy night, but that didn’t stop fans from filling the Siegel Center to watch the VCU Rams face the crosstown rival Richmond Spiders on Wednesday. They entered the game riding two separate waves. VCU was eager to take the court after suffering a lopsided loss to Dayton, while Richmond, conversely, was fresh off a win over George Washington and looking to build on that momentum.
The Spiders took the crowd out of the game from the very tip, and dominated the Rams 67-52 to capture its fifth victory of the season. The VCU fan base, which is known for creating a hostile environment for opposing teams, had little to cheer about throughout the night.
“We knew coming in, obviously because of the rivalry game, the crowd was going to be crazy,” said Spiders freshman big man Grant Golden. “But I think since we started off well, the crowd was pretty contained the whole night. I think that helped out a lot.”
It was a recurring theme: Whenever it felt like VCU would inch its way back into the game, Richmond responded. The Spiders jumped out to an early lead and eventually went on a 10-0 run late in the first half. The Rams found themselves playing catch up, as the Spiders put them in a chokehold and never loosened up their grip.
“Two games in a row you get into a hole, you want that energy and it’s not there because you’re fighting out of a hole,” said VCU coach Mike Rhoades. “We allowed our lack of production on offense to really affect our defense.”
There was one stretch in the second half where the Spiders went on a 13-0 run and VCU was scoreless for 5 minutes, 58 seconds. That’s when Richmond started to seize control of the game. The defense was stifling, and Spiders coach Chris Mooney was encouraged about what he saw from his young team.
“I thought we played our best game of the year tonight,” said Mooney. “I thought we played a really complete game. Our defense was very good, we rebounded really well.”
The Rams couldn’t find the mark, shooting just 34 percent from the field on the night, including a dismal 17 percent from beyond the arc. The Spiders, however, shot the ball well (54 percent) and was in a groove offensively.
They outplayed VCU on both ends, with the Rams struggling to get easy buckets in the half court. The Spiders contested nearly every shot that left a VCU player’s hands.
Richmond’s do-it-all swingman De’Monte Buckingham, who’s from the area, was all over the floor, making his impact felt in several ways. He finished with 12 points and nine rebounds on the night, and was one of four Spiders players to finish in double figures.
Golden got the best of VCU’s Justin Tillman, outscoring him 17 to 12 and frustrating the Rams’ go-to player. He made tough shot after tough shot and was a man amongst boys down in the paint.
Nick Sherod, a Richmond native himself, finished with 14 points, seven boards and two steals in the game, while freshman point guard Jacob Gilyard had 11 points and eight assists.
Richmond (5-13) won its first game over VCU (11-8) since the 2014-15 season and improved to 3-3 in the Atlantic 10. Both teams will be back in action on their home courts Saturday, as the Rams welcome George Washington and the Spiders host La Salle.
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