Following back-to-back losses to Atlantic 10 opponents, the VCU Rams had to do some soul searching before entering Saturday’s game against George Washington. The sight of watching Richmond celebrate in front of the VCU fan base at the Siegel Center was still fresh on their mental.
So the Rams looked themselves in the mirror and got back to playing their brand of basketball. It led to a blowout victory over the Colonials, 87-63, allowing them to regain confidence as they’re now in the meat of their conference schedule.
“We had a talk about it, basically like an air-it-out session,” said VCU senior point guard Jonathan Williams. “People said what was on their mind; nobody took it to be sensitive. Everybody gave constructive criticism and we just let each other know that it starts in practice, we’ve got to compete and go at each other and that’s going to spill onto the court, and that’s exactly what happened.”
George Washington proved to be feisty early on, weathering the early storm by an energetic and determined VCU team. But it was a game where the Rams never trailed.
Williams was doing what he does best: getting into the paint and making things happen. He finished with 14 points and four assists. Justin Tillman and De’Riante Jenkins led the way with 18 points apiece. Jenkins, who was coming off one of his lowest-scoring outputs of the season, went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and shot 63 percent from the field. As a team, VCU bounced back from its poor shooting performance against the Spiders by knocking down 55 percent of its shot attempts.
“The offense followed the defense,” Tillman said. “We got energy from our defense and off each other. Once one person scored, everybody got hyped and it would lead to somebody else scoring.”
George Washington wasn’t easy to put away, but once the Siegel Center started rocking midway through the second half, and the Rams got a few stops, the onslaught was on. They outscored the Colonials 46-26 in the second half after holding just a four-point lead at intermission.
Freshman forward Sean Mobley was inserted into the lineup vs. George Washington, getting the first start of his young career. He made his impact felt by leading the team with eight assists on the afternoon.
“With these dudes around us, it’s hard not to get assists with the way they can shoot and score,” said Mobley.
VCU coach Mike Rhoades noted that the change went into effect based on how well Mobley has played combined with the fact that he wants Malik Crowfield to take on more of a point guard role off the bench.
“Sean Mobley has been playing very well, been playing tough as nails,” said Rhoades. “I told him before practice ‘you’re starting,’ 20 minutes later he sprained his ankle and missed the rest of practice. He was hurting but said, ‘coach, I’m playing.’ He’s a tough dude, I love the kid. He’s going to be a heck of a player for us.”
George Washington was led by Yuta Watanabe’s 19 points. The 6-foot-9 senior nailed three 3-pointers in the first half to keep George Washington within striking distance early on. Freshman guard Terry Nolan Jr. chipped in with 15 points for the Colonials.
Marcus Santos-Silva led VCU’s bench production with 11 points and five boards.
It was an important win for VCU, which now improves to 4-3 in conference play and 12-8 overall. George Washington drops to 9-11 on the season and 2-5 in the A-10.
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