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Atlantic 10 Tournament: VCU Advances To Fourth Straight A-10 Final, Will Face Saint Joseph’s

After Saint Joseph’s held on against Dayton, it was time to see who the Hawks would take on in the finals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Sunday. While VCU was meant to be in the semifinals and most likely the finals, Davidson shocked many after an overtime win against higher seed St. Bonaventure on Friday night which set up the 2 seed vs. 6 seed matchup in the second semifinal at the Barclays Center. The outcome was another easy win for VCU by the score of 76-54.

Early on Davidson did a good job trying to stay with VCU and their up-tempo play. While many thought that the Wildcats would get run out of Brooklyn, Davidson ran with the Rams and stayed as close as they could only trailing by 11 with seven minutes to go in the first half. The change came when Davidson slowed the game down significantly and forced VCU into half-court sets, which is something that the Rams struggle in executing. That resulted in 11-5 run for Davidson which cut the lead to 27-22.

From that point on in the first half, Davidson went cold missing the next three of four shots they took for the rest of the half. On the other side, Melvin Johnson scored his first seven points of the game during an 11-3 VCU run to stretch their lead to their largest 38-25 to end the half. VCU shot an even 50 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes of play while Davidson struggled from behind the arc shooting just 3-of-12 from three point range.

The Rams came out of the locker room firing after halftime as they scored another 11 points, including two deep threes, to extend the lead out to 49-30. Similar to how the game started, VCU began running at every opportunity and capitalized on missed shots from Davidson. The pro-VCU crowd came unglued when Mo Alie-Cox flushed down an alley-oop and Alie-Cox followed that up with a three-point play, which took the breath out of the Wildcats and made the game VCU’s with 15:30 still remaining.

“That was big time,” said VCU guard JeQuan Lewis about the Alie-Cox dunk in the second half. “That was a big momentum shift and kind of got us growing, got the people on the bench going, got the crowd going, and it was good for us.”

“I think you can catch up with the way we play because we can shoot the three, but we weren’t making the three, and you love and die by the three, and we will always try to live by it,” said Davidson head coach Bob McKillop.

The second half was a bench game for both teams as VCU wanted to rest their starters for their game on Sunday. The VCU lead got to as big as 30 in the second half as the Wildcats played out the remaining minutes. Korey Billbury led the way for the Rams with 17 points as VCU shot 51 percent from the field in the win. Davidson was led by Brian Sullivan who scored 15 points in the loss. Next up for Davidson is unknown because with their trip to the A-10 semis, they are possibly back in play for an at-large bid according to some experts but

VCU advanced to their fourth consecutive A-10 title game becoming just the third team in conference history to accomplish that feat. Next for VCU are the Saint Joseph’s in the A-10 Tournament final on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. The Rams and Hawks have met one time this season on January 5th in Philadelphia and it resulted in a85-82 VCU victory. Saint Joseph’s seven game winning streak was snapped as Melvin Johnson scored 25 points for the Rams.

“Yeah, I’ve got to get familiar with them (Saint Joseph’s) again,” said VCU head coach Will Wade.

“I’ve followed them obviously this year. We’ve seen them pay on tape and that sort of thing…They’re playing at a high level. It’ll be a challenge.”

The Hawks will look to even the score on Sunday afternoon.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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