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VCU wins key A-10 tilt in St. Louis
Final score: VCU 73, StL 65. Location: Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.Current records: VCU 18-6, 9-2 in A-10. StL 15-8, 7-3 in A-10.In a nutshell: This was a marquee match-up between the A-10's two top teams and both of them played like teams that ought to be in the postseason's Big Dance. The difference in the late going was just too much Ace Baldwin; VCU's junior point guard had a career night. Baldwin played 38 minutes and scored 37 points. He also grabbed four rebounds, made two assists and two steals. Baldwin sank four of five attempts from beyond the arc and no other Ram connected on a single trey. Make no mistake, VCU beat a good team tonight. On its home court. The Rams simply had the best player on the floor and he was playing his best game of the season (so far). That's what it took to beat a well-coached Billikens team, going all out to prevent its loss. This road victory should give Mike Rhoades' Rams team an upgraded sense of confidence. NOTES: (Information provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D)  Baldwin connected on 12-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. He also converted all nine of his free throw attempts.Forward Brandon Johns scored 15 points and got six rebounds for the Rams. In addition, forward Jalen DeLoach kicked in 13 points, 11 rebounds and three assists for his fourth double-double of the season for the Rams.  VCU closed a back-and-forth first half with a 7-0 run, including a Baldwin 3-pointer with three second left, to take a 34-31 lead into the locker room. The game would eventually feature 11 ties and 16 lead changes.The two teams were separated by no more than three points during the second half until back-to-back Baldwin jumpers gave VCU a 61-56 lead with 5:00 remaining. Saint Louis’ Yuri Collins drove for a layup to cut the Rams lead back to three, but Baldwin answered with another jumper, and DeLoach hit a baby hook on consecutive VCU possessions to push VCU’s advantage to 65-58 with 2:05 left.VCU turned the Billikens over 14 times and outscored Saint Louis 17-11 off turnovers. The Rams also owned a 33-31 advantage on the glass.Gibson Jimerson led Saint Louis with 24 points. He went five-for-nine from three-point distance. With this win, VCU currently sits alone in first place in the A-10 at 9-2. Dayton, which visits the Siegel Center Tuesday, and Saint Louis are tied for second at 7-3.VCU has won five straight road games, including three consecutive A-10 ESPN Friday night showcase contests. BOX SCORE NEXT UP VCU will host Dayton at the Siegel Center on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. That contest will air on the CBS Sports Network.  -- 30 --

VCU tops Davidson in thriller
Final score: VCU 61, Davidson 59. Location: Belk Arena in Davidson (near Charlotte)Current records: VCU 17-6, 8-2 in A-10. Davidson 10-12, 3-7 in A-10.In a nutshell: Both the visitors and the home team put out noteworthy 40-minute efforts. In short, it was a thriller! The homestanding Wildcats led by nine points a couple of times in the first half, but the Rams cut the difference down to two points at halftime. In the second half it was pretty much a nip-and-tuck affair the whole way. With the score knotted at 58, VCU's junior point guard, Ace Baldwin, pulled up in the lane to hit a clutch 15-foot jumper with 15.8 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference in the end. Both teams then sank one foul shot to produce what would be the final score. Baldwin scored 14 points, to set the pace for VCU's attack; he pulled down five boards, dished for seven assists and made two steals. Sophomore forward Jalen DeLoach scored 12 points, grabbed nine boards and made two steals. Sophomore forward Jamir Watkins came off the bench for seven points, eight rebounds and three steals.   NOTES (Information provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D)Out of a timeout, Baldwin drove left to right and canned a pull-up jumper from 15 feet, right of the free throw line, to give the Rams a 60-58 lead. Davidson missed the second of two free throws on its ensuing possession, and VCU redshirt sophomore Jamir Watkins grabbed the rebound and drew a foul with 3.5 seconds left. He connected on the front end of the one-and-one, and the Wildcats were only able to race up the floor for a half-court heave that fell well short as the final horn sounded.VCU closed the first period on a 7-0 run that trimmed the Davidson lead to 34-32 at the halftime break. VCU forced 13 turnovers in the game and committed a season-low six. The Rams outscored the Wildcats 20-5 off turnovers.The Rams limited Davidson to 36 percent shooting (12-of-33) in the second half.The Rams did not hit a 3-pointer (0-of-9) in the entire contest. That's the first time it’s happened since Mar. 3, 2006, against William & Mary.Desmond Watson led Davidson with 12 points.With Tuesday's win, coupled with Saint Louis’ loss at Fordham, VCU's Rams moved back into a tie with the Billikens for first place in the A-10 Conference.BOX SCORENEXT UPVCU will travel to Saint Louis on Fri, Feb. 3, for a showdown with the Billikens. The winner will take sole possession of first place in the A-10. That match-up will tip-off at 7 p.m. (EST). ESPN2 will broadcast the game live.--  30 --

Upset: Bonnies defeat Rams
Final Score: St. Bonaventure 61, VCU 58Location: Siegel Center in RichmondCurrent Records: VCU 16-6, 7-2 in A-10. St. Bonaventure 11-11, 5-4 in A-10.In a nutshell: VCU entered the game an 11.5-point favorite. But unlike most of VCU's recent games, the Rams played a bad second half on defense; VCU allowed 43 points to be scored by the visitors. Plus, the Rams also had a woeful night shooting. They only sank 13 percent of their trey attempts. In the last minute the resourceful Bonnies made one more play than the Rams did. It ended VCU's winning streak at six games. Consequently, VCU dropped to second place in the A-10 standings, one game behind St. Louis. NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)Jalen DeLoach posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. His double-double was third of the season. Ace Baldwin led VCU in scoring with 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and he also led the team in assists with six.Brandon Johns crashed the glass for seven rebounds and added seven points, five of which came from the free throw line. The Rams and Bonnies played a choppy first half, as the two teams combined for 41 points and 11 turnovers. VCU went into halftime up 23-18.VCU stretched the lead out to nine with a Johns layup 55 seconds into the second half, but from there, the Bonnies began to chip away at their deficit, taking a one-point lead off of a Kyrell Luc driving layup with 15:17 remaining.The Rams went on a 6-0 run that stretched two minutes with four points from DeLoach and two points from Baldwin. The Bonnies would take a timeout at the 6:53 mark to try and quell VCU’s momentum. Out of the timeout, St. Bonaventure responded with a 5-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to one at 49-48 with 6:21 remaining.Down the stretch, the Rams and Bonnies traded baskets and free throws. Ultimately, it was three free throws by Flowers in the final 19 seconds that would prove to be the difference in the final score.VCU struggled to find their shot, especially on three-pointers. For the game, the Rams went 2-of-16 (12.5%) from beyond the arc, whereas the Bonnies shot 8-of-17 (47.1%) on their three-pointers. The Rams’ shooting woes carried over to the charity stripe, with the Rams going 10-of-18 (55.6%) on free throws to St. Bonaventure’s 11-of-15 (73.3%) at the foul line.St. Bonaventure had three players in double figures. Yann Farrell and Moses Flowers put up 15 points each while Chad Venning chipped in 13 points for the visiting Bonnies. BOX SCORENEXT UPVCU will hit the road for their second matchup of the season with Davidson on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., and CBS Sports Network will broadcast the game.-- 30 -- 

Living at the Epicenter of a Cultural Earthquake
The Lee Monument pedestal June 5, 2020 In June of 2020, whether they realized it, or not, Richmond's Fan District residents found themselves living at the epicenter of a cultural earthquake. Quite unexpectedly, the demonstrations in my neighborhood that followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis gathered a national sense of  outrage and directed its energy at an already-simmering local brouhaha about old statues. Once focused, that fresh sense of common purpose chased the city's Confederate statues from their pedestals. It all happened faster than anyone in Richmond could possibly have imagined. Having grown up in the shadows of those Confederate memorials, for a long time I had been hoping that I would live to see the conclusion of the era for tolerating the dishonesty propping up the "Lost Cause" mindset. Now it's evident that era ended abruptly two-and-a-half years ago, during 2020's summer. When that moment's self-appointed statue-removers pulled down the Jefferson F. Davis statue, that nighttime guerrilla act was seen specifically as an overdue anti-Confederate statement. That, as well as a denouncement of racism, in general. However, upon reflection, now it seems to me another factor was in the mix. After all, that statue of the Confederacy's only president had been standing atop its imposing Monument Avenue perch since 1907 ... then suddenly, it was gone! The next day folks all over town began to marvel at how easily the relic came down. With Jeff Davis exorcised from the Fan, the spell was broken.  Then the City Hall seized the moment and began removing Confederate statues in the light of day. Mayor Levar Stoney's key role in that bold move will be both praised and deplored for years to come. Now that those statues are gone and their pedestals have been removed, too, it's easy to imagine that future generations of Richmonders will be puzzled by an obvious question: What took so long for Richmond to be rid of what clearly amounted to Lost Cause propaganda that had served to facilitate the Jim Crow Era? Indeed, it's worth remembering that the Confederate memorials on Monument Avenue were installed in the late-1800s and early-1900s. Under the cover of celebrating war heroes, those shrines also served to shore up the repressive system of Jim Crow laws and customs that endured for decades. Maybe some readers never noticed, but some of the laudatory inscriptions on the plaques affixed to the grandiose pedestals were laughable ... in a sick way.  *However, as it happened, the night before the Davis bronze kissed the pavement, a partying mob yanked the Christopher Columbus statue from its pedestal in William Byrd Park, a few blocks outside the Fan. The statue was then dragged down a hill, and to the delight of a cheering crowd, it was dumped into the park's Fountain Lake. Still photos and videos of the rude ceremony showed up on Facebook, documenting the good times tone of the occasion. That was how I first found out about it; so I watched in realtime. Whatever the cops were doing, reportedly gathered a few blocks away, well, let's just say they weren't interfering.  Nonetheless, in my view, that act of defiance in Byrd Park was not merely spotlighting Columbus' now somewhat tarnished image as a heroic explorer. To me, a portion of what prompted those two unauthorized statue-removals, on back-to-back nights, was a sense of rejection that was in the air. Put simply, it was a rejection of the concept of forced reverence.  A good part of the energy for that rejection seemed to be coming from 16-to-35-year-olds. Young adults who appeared to have developed the modern version of a William Tell attitude. Perhaps somewhat like Tell, the 14th century legendary Swiss archer, when they found themselves confronted by what amounted to the equivalent of Gessler's hat, they couldn't stand the feeling of being required to show respect for symbols of evil power. Instead, they felt moved to act out their rejection by uprooting those two statues.  Fast-fowarding from Tell's era to more recent times, pro quarterback Colin Kaepernick, with his taking-a-knee resistance gesture, was spot on. Isn't the forced reverence of symbols always meant to be a dignity-crushing tool. So, in my book, it should be challenged. In March of 2021, Gov. Ralph Northam signed the law (which passed overwhelmingly in the General Assembly) to banish the statue of Harry F. Byrd from the grounds of Capitol Square. That's the same Harry F. Byrd, who, for decades, ran Virginia's statewide political organization that ruled -- the ultra conservative, anti-trade union, pro-segregation Byrd Machine.  *In case you missed it, that Byrd statue was hauled off three months later. Thus, it should be noted that with both Columbus and Byrd, the statue-removal process that swept through Richmond that summer wasn't confined to Confederate memorials.    With the removal of the statues cited above, and the others, it says here Richmond took steps toward a brighter future. Plus, in what was a charged atmosphere, many bad things that could have happened, didn't happen. Remember, what violence and property damage that erupted Downtown during the first couple of nights of marches didn't continue. Over the course of Richmond's tense summer of 2020, wise heads usually prevailed to prevent worst case scenarios from developing. Moreover, the true story of what happened at the grassy circle that surrounded the Lee Monument's graffiti-adorned pedestal is one that deserves telling. That site's integral role in the way Richmond drove off those old haunts should be celebrated.  Hopefully, some good documentary films about this episode are being put together. Don't forget that rather than continuing to be a magnet for attracting trouble, what came to be known as the "Marcus-David Peters Circle" morphed into a busy People's Park, complete with gardens, cookout grills and basketball backboards with rims. It lasted a few months before the city fenced off access to the area ... until the start of its makeover. And, yes, the huge Lee statue's pedestal was not only decorated with layers of painted messages, at times it was also bathed with remarkable light shows. Going there was a relatively safe adventure during that first tense COVID summer. Naturally, the unfolding scene attracted many a photographer ... me included. Going forward, the circle at Allen and Monument could eventually become another of the Fan's distinctive little parks -- a peaceful green space offering travelers on foot a spot to rest. In any event, let's try to avoid installing more public art on Monument Avenue that will inspire our descendants to topple it and haul it away.   Today, I have no doubt that most Richmond parents are glad their children will no longer ask why those statues are still there, demanding respect for men who chose to take part in an organized insurrection hell bent on preserving the institution of slavery in Virginia. On my regular quiet neighborhood walks, I, for one, don't miss the looming propaganda in bronze that once stood for forced reverence. And, that goes double for the eyesore that Davis memorial was -- with its haughty pedestal and surrounding whatnot.  -- 30 --  -- Words and photos by F.T. Rea

VCU routs Mason
Final score: VCU 72, Mason 52. Location: Siegel Center in RichmondCurrent records: VCU 16-5, 7-1 in A-10. Mason 12-9, 4-4 in A-10In a nutshell: VCU used a balanced attack on offense and a constantly swarming defense to win easily before its home crowd. Mason was never really in this game, as VCU seized control early and never let go of it. The Rams led by 16 points at the half and coasted confidently through the second half. VCU seems to be improving with each game of its six-game winning streak. Once again, the Rams bench was a significant factor; it scored 29 points, while the Patriots bench contributed only six points. VCU grabbed 35 rebounds to Mason's 24.  Rams Stats: David Shriver with 13 pts., two reb. Jayden Nunn with 12 pts., three reb., two assists. Brandon Johns with 11 pts., seven reb. Ace Baldwin with nine pts., nine reb., seven assists. Jamir Watkins with nine pts., six reb., 3 assists.NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)Shriver continued his red-hot shooting in conference play, going 3-of-5 from the beyond the arc. Shriver has shot 58.5 percent (24-of-41) from three-point land in eight A-10 contests.Nunn’s 12 points came on 4-of-9 from the field and a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line.After Mason got out to a quick 4-0 lead, VCU responded with a 12-3 scoring run over 2:12 that started with a Baldwin jump shot and capped off by a Nunn 3-pointer at the 14:59 mark of the first half.VCU closed out the first half with a 9-3 run over the final 3:39, with three points from  Watkins, two points from Nunn, and four points from Johns to take a 39-23 lead into the locker room. The Patriots got as close as 10 in the second half with a layup from Josh Oduro at the 15:31 mark, but Mason could get no closer as the Rams kept them at bay. Oduro led the Patriots’ charge with 19 points on 8-of-11 from the field.VCU now improves to 46-22 overall against Mason. BOX SCORE NEXT UPThe Rams will host St. Bonaventure on Saturday, Jan. 28. Tipoff at the Siegel Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.-- 30 -- 

VCU wins easily at Richmond
Final Score: VCU 74, Richmond 62Location: The Robins Center in RichmondCurrent Records: VCU 15-5, 6-1 A-10. Richmond 11-9, 4-3 in A-10.In a nutshell: After finishing the first half with a 10-point lead, VCU gradually crushed Richmond in the second half. Once again VCU's depth was a key factor. The Rams bench outscored the Spiders bench 31-to-19. The Rams held the Spiders without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes during one second-half stretch. In the last few minutes Richmond sank a few garbage-time baskets, which made the game look closer than it really was.   VCU's redshirt sophomore forward Jamir Watkins played his best overall game of the season. In 25 minutes off the bench he set the pace for the Rams with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He connected on 5-of-8 field goals, including 2-of-5 treys and added two blocks, two steals and two assists to his stats line. Junior point guard Ace Baldwin added 14 points, five assists and a pair of steals, while graduate forward Brandon Johns contributed 12 points and four boards. NOTES (Information provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D)Sophomore guard Jayden Nunn and senior forward David Shriver supplied 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Rams. Shriver hit 2-of-5 from beyond the 3-point arc.Watkins buried a 3-pointer and converted a traditional three-point play to spark a 15-0 VCU run over a four-minute span in the second half that gave the Rams a 68-49 cushion with 4:34 remaining. VCU would lead the game by as many as 21 points in the second half. Tyler Burton led Richmond with 14 points. Still, VCU limited Burton, the Atlantic 10 Conference’s second-leading scorer, to 5-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range. He also made six turnovers.VCU outrebounded Richmond 37-to-27. VCU now leads the all-time series between these two rivals, 58-32.The surging Rams have won five games in a row and 10 of 11 overall. That includes three straight road wins.BOX SCORENEXT UPVCU will host George Mason on Wed., Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Siegel Center. That contest will air on CBS Sports Network.-- 30 --  

VCU overwhelms UMass, 83-to-55
Final score: VCU 83, UMass 55.Location: The Siegel Center in RichmondCurrent records: VCU 14-5, 5-1 in A-10. UMass 11-7, 2-4 in A-10. In a nutshell: VCU led by seven at the half. UMass never got closer than that. The second half was a total romp, as the Rams outscored the Minutemen by 21 points; VCU was dominant at both ends of the floor.  In hitting 31 field goals in the game the Rams were credited with 19 assists. Consequently, five Rams scored in double figures. Sophomore forward Jalen DeLoach finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Junior guard Zeb Jackson scored 12 points, dished for five assists and made two steals. VCU held UMass to 29 percent accuracy from the field, while the Rams made good on 53 percent of their shots. NOTES: (Information provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)Both the teams tied the lead eight times in the first half. But VCU began to take control with 5:00 minutes left in the first half as a three by senior forward David Shriver began a 12-2 run headed into the break with the Rams in front 40-33. The Rams’ offense came alive beginning at the 17:59 minute mark of the second half when they went on a 19-4 run, lasting almost seven minutes, highlighted by back-to-back Jackson layups.The Rams stayed strong on defense in the second half as the Minutemen shot 0-of-11 from three and made just six baskets, shooting 6-of-32 (19 percent). VCU forced 16 turnovers and scored 16 points off those mistakes. BOX SCORENEXT UP: Riding a four-game winning streak, the Rams travel six miles west to face their cross-town rival, the Richmond Spiders on Friday, Jan. 20. Tipoff at the Robins Center is at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.-- 30 --

Life in the Truth-Is-Dead Era
It use to be that given the avalanche of news stories about the bogus resume of Rep. George Santos (R-NY), one would have expected a proper Speaker of the House to waste no time in getting rid of Santos ... or whatever the guy's name really is. That was before former-President Donald Trump ushered in the Truth-Is-Dead Era.However, with what hoops Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gladly jumped through to acquire the Speaker's gavel, now his tolerating of Santos in the GOP caucus in the House is easy. After all, this is the same McCarthy who stood up in the House to condemn Trump for his essential role in the infamous January 6th insurrection, then traveled to Mar-a-Lago a few days later to kiss Trump's ring. Or whatever McCarthy kissed. All in trying to corral the support of Trump's loyal MAGA Republicans to facilitate McCarthy's anything-goes quest to sit in the chair he coveted. Now, for what it's worth, by one vote in the 15 round, McCarthy became the Republican Party's highest elected official. At least, for the time being.Meanwhile, let's face it, plenty of people in the base of the MAGA cult admire Trump particularly for his rhetorical audacity -- chockfull of lies, cruelty and stuff that would make a goat puke -- so they slide over to find Santos to be an another shameless and entertaining liar. Maybe, in an offbeat way, beyond Trump. To me, it's strange the press still doesn't seem to be noticing that plenty of people in the MAGA cult have no interest in ideology or policy whatsoever. Many cultists seem to view Trump and his ilk in elected office as ballsy entertainers who are good at pissing off the most predictable of "woke" Democrats. Which actually has nothing to do with conservatism.  Thus, for many Trumpists, the Santos "resume embellishments" news stories are mostly fun, since they see those stories are dominating the news cycle, making Santos a celebrity, and in effect, owning the libs! Which is always the goal.   -- 30 --

VCU wins a thriller in Dayton
Final score: VCU 63, Day 62. Location: UD Arena in Dayton.Current records: VCU 13-5, 4-1 in A-10. Dayton 12-6, 4-1 in A-10.  In a nutshell: Once again, VCU fell behind by double-digits in the first half. This time it was to a pretty good team on its floor; Dayton led by 14 points at the half. Although the Rams closed the gap gradually during the second half, the Flyers held onto the lead until the last minute. That was when VCU's scrambling defense suddenly pulled Dayton's weary offense to pieces. VCU led for a total of 1:16 of the gameVCU's David Shriver scored 18 point on six treys (one of them off of a steal during that crazy last minute). Bran Johns scored 16 points. But it was Nick Kern's timely contributions -- nine points, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block -- that stood out during the Rams closing surge, VCU's bench outscored Dayton's bench by 25-to-three. Once again, the Rams depth was a big part of its success. This was surely one of VCU's most impressive comeback wins on the road in program history. What a finish!NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D)Shriver hit back-to-back triples with 14 minutes remaining to pull VCU within 42-40. Then, at the 10:35 mark, he hit another to trim the Flyers lead to 46-45. VCU trailed 62-58 in the final minute, but Shriver intercepted a Dayton inbounds pass at midcourt and buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to cut the Flyers advantage to 62-61 with 28.1 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, VCU trapped Camara on the left sideline. Kern poked the ball away and raced to the hoop for the go-ahead score. Dayton had one last look on its final possession, but Camara’s jumper fell short. Camara led all scorers with 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Flyers.BOX SCORENEXT UPVCU will take on UMass on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Siegel Center. This game will be streamed exclusively at NBCSports.com.-- 30 --

The Thrill
How many people in the USA hate both Democrats and the federal government so damn much they are now actually ready to do violence to achieve political ends? I can't help but wonder. Please note that the question above was not asking how many people are now openly INSTIGATING the use of violence as a tool. No, my question was about appreciating the true number of Americans who are poised and prepared to DO violence.  The reason I'm asking it that way is that I want to spotlight the distinction between two different brands of fascist trouble-makers: Group 1 is made up of political extremists who are squawking in an incendiary fashion, hoping to prompt others to dish out violence. They prefer to benefit from targeted mayhem, done at a safe distance. Group 2 is made up of political zealots who are waiting for the righteous signal to act out their fantasies about a violent mission serving a cause. They are in it for the thrill of the moment and the prize they think will come to the winners of the ultimate conflict -- power.  Hey! maybe no one should be all that surprised that a nation with such a widespread gun fetish problem would also have lots of citizens with itchy trigger fingers. As long as their victims are seen as members of an opposing tribe, some of our society's zealots appear to believe hurting their enemies is both justified and a rare kick.Hopefully, the FBI has some idea how many people in this country are likely to be the doers in Group 2, not just Group 1 blowhards. My guess is it's safe to say there are some hundreds of thousands of Group 2s. Maybe some millions. Consequently, then I have to wonder what plans the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have for dealing with this real and growing menace. -- 30 --

Rams balanced attack overwhelms Ramblers
Final score: VCU 78, Loyola Chicago 64. Location: Gentile Arena in ChicagoCurrent records: VCU 12-5, 3-1 in A-10. Loyola 6-10, 0-4 in A-10.In a nutshell: Six VCU players scored in double figures and the Rams swarming defense forced 22 turnovers. Sophomore forward Jalen DeLoach led VCU with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocked shots. Junior point guard Ace Baldwin Jr. added 13 points and dished for eight assists. At the half VCU appeared to be the better team, but only led by three points, 35-to-32. However, in the second half it was all VCU. The Rams defense unraveled the Ramblers, while the offense exploded for a 24-to-4 run. NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)Graduate forward Brandon Johns, sophomore guard Jayden Nunn and redshirt sophomore guard/forward Jamir Watkins contributed 10 points apiece to the Rams attack. VCU senior forward David Shriver connected on all four of his field goal attempts (including three treys), to finish with 12 points.   VCU outscored the Ramblers 31-10 off turnover opportunities. The Rams shot .571 (24-of-42) from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. VCU outscored Loyola from the free throw line 26-to-12.VCU's bench outscored Loyola's 22-to-9.     The Rams are 19-of-32 from 3-point range in the last two games.  The Rams have turned an opponent over 20 or more times in five games this season.  BOX SCORENEXT UPVCU will head to Dayton, Ohio and UD Arena on Friday, Jan. 13 to take on Dayton at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.-- 30 --

Hot-shooting VCU too much for Davidson
Final score: VCU 89, Davidson 72 Location: Siegel Center in Richmond. Current records: VCU 11-5, 2-1 in A-10. Davidson 9-7, 2-2 in A-10. In a nutshell: The Rams found themselves down early, as the visiting Wildcats led 10-0, just 3:38 into the game. However, after a wisely called timeout, VCU went on a 19-4 run, owing particularly to a pair of David Shriver treys. Thus, after playing what had to be its worst first half of the season, against Duquesne on Wednesday, this afternoon, against always tough Davidson, VCU played what might have been its best first half of the season: VCU 41, Dav 29. When the final buzzer sounded VCU had five players who had scored in double figures. They were: Ace Baldwin, who had a team-leading 19; senior forward David Shriver with 18; graduate forward Brandon Johns with 14; sophomore guard Jayden Nunn with 12; redshirt sophomore guard Jamir Watkins with 10. The key to the romp was VCU shooting a season-best 15-of-24 from 3-point range. Shriver led the long-range points avalanche with six treys, but he wasn’t the only Ram with a hot hand, as Nunn hit 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Baldwin connected on 3-of-6.  NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.) The Rams effort showcased their depth, as the bench scored 30 points. All together, the team dished out 20 assists on 32 field goals, led by Baldwin’s eight.VCU did good work at the free-throw line, shooting 10-of-11 from the charity stripe.Starting at the 17:12 mark of the second half four possessions for VCU led to four straight three-pointers by Watkins, Shriver, and Nunn. That enabled the Rams to lead by 25 points with 6:27 remaining in the game. VCU forced 20 turnovers in the contest and it scored 26 points off those miscues.With the win, the Rams improved to 10-8 all-time over Davidson. Davidson’s Sam Mennenga led all scorers with 20 points and shot 8-of-12 on the day. BOX SCORE UP NEXT The Rams will visit Chicago for their first A-10 matchup against Loyola-Chicago on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. The game's broadcast will be on CBS Sports Network.  -- 30 --

Duquesne Too Strong for VCU
Final Score: Duquesne 79, VCU 70.Location: UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, Pa. Current Records: VCU 10-5, 1-1 in A-10. Duquesne 12-4, 2-1 in A-10. In a nutshell: The Dukes ran away from the Rams in the first half. Duquesne led by as many as 22 points that made it 35-13 with 6:41 remaining in the opening period. To put it plainly, although the Rams narrowed the gap in the closing few minutes of the second half, VCU was never really in this game.  Nonetheless, graduate forward Brandon Johns Jr. responded with a career-high 22 points. VCU. Still, it wasn’t enough to lift the Rams out from that early deficit. Johns poured in 18 of his 22 points in the second half as the Rams tried to mount a comeback. He connected on 9-of-12 attempts from the field, including 2-of-3 from the 3-point line. He also grabbed six rebounds.  NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)VCU redshirt sophomore guard Jamir Watkins added 18 points and four rebounds.Four Rams scored in double figures overall, including sophomore guard Jayden Nunn, who connected on a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points. VCU came out of the locker room in the second half swinging. Johns and senior forward David Shriver drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 9-2 VCU run that cut the Duquesne lead to just seven, at 42-35 with 15:29 remaining. VCU closed the gap to seven on two other occasions, but each time, the Dukes had an answer. A Tevin Brewer steal set up a fast break bucket by Clark to give Duquesne a 54-45 lead with 12:07 on the clock, and the Rams spent the majority of the rest of the evening trying to climb out of a double-digit hole. VCU shot just .269 (7-of-26) from the field in the first half. The Rams were 0-of-5 from 3-point range in the period. The Rams shot .548 (17-of-31) from the floor in the second half, including .500 (7-of-14) from beyond the three-point line. Jimmy Clark III led Duquesne’s high-powered offense with a career-high 26 points. Dae Dae Grant and R.J. Gunn added 13 a piece.Duquesne buried seven first-half 3-pointers and owned a 24-14 rebounding advantage on the way to a 37-22 halftime lead. The Dukes led by as many as 22 points following a Gunn 3-pointer that made it 35-13 with 6:41 remaining in the period. Duquesne shot .453 (29-of-64) from the field in the contest, including .440 (11-of-25) from 3-point range. Duquesne’s 11 treys were the most allowed by the Rams this season. BOX SCORENEXT UP VCU will return home to face Davidson on Saturday, Jan. 7 at noon at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. That contest will air on USA Network. -- 30 --

VCU tops La Salle to win its fifth in a row
Final Score: VCU 80, La Salle 67 Location: Siegel Center in Richmond Current Records: VCU 10-4, 1-0 in A-10. La Salle 6-8, 0-1 in A-10.  In a nutshell: VCU junior guard Ace Baldwin led all Rams in scoring with 19 points. He added six assists and four steals; plus he sank a career-high five treys. Sophomore forward Jalen DeLoach contributed the first double-double of his career with 14 points and 13 rebounds.  After falling behind the Explorers by nine points in the first half, the Rams topped off that stanza with a Zeb Jackson three-pointer, to seize the lead by two points, 38-to-36. In the second half, VCU played with confidence and outscored La Salle, 42-to-31, to launch its A-10 play with a victory. The surging Rams have now won five consecutive games. NOTES  (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)DeLoach’s 14 points came on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor. His 13 rebounds topped his previous career-high of 11 last season against Rhode Island. Junior guard Zeb Jackson had a good day to ring out 2022 for the Rams. He scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.  Graduate student Brandon Johns was the other Ram in double figures, putting up 10 points on 4-of-8 from the field. He also snared six rebounds.  La Salle’s Josh Nickelberry led all scorers with 21 points, 13 of which came in the first half. Jhamir Brickus and Khali Brantley also recorded double figures with 16 and 14 points, respectively.  After a Brantley pull-up jumper brought La Salle within two with 9:22 left, the Rams outscored the Explorers 27-18 the rest of the way in. In the first half, the Explorers navigated their way to a 7-0 lead in the opening 2:57 of the game, courtesy of two Nickelberry field goals and layup by Brantley. La Salle would lead for most of the opening 20 minutes before the Rams took their first lead at 25 seconds before halftime with a Johns dunk.   The two teams went back and forth for the first ten minutes of second half, with La Salle staying within arm’s length and not allowing VCU a lead bigger than seven points prior to the Rams’ final flurry to put the game out of reach.  The Rams’ eight 3-pointers tied their highest mark of the season, which also happened in the season opener against Manhattan. The Rams' bench came up big, outscoring La Salle’s bench players 27-8. With the victory, the Rams continue their dominance of La Salle, winning their eighth straight against the Explorers. BOX SCORE  UP NEXT  The Rams will hit the road on Wed., Jan. 4, when they will face the Duquesne Dukes (11-4, 1-1 A-10). It will be the Rams' first road game since Dec. 3. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+. -- 30 --

VCU coasts past Navy
Final Score: VCU 74, Navy 52Location: Siegel Center in Richmond Current Records: VCU 9-4, Navy 7-5 In a nutshell: In the first half Jalen DeLoach led the Rams to a seven-point lead with his 12-point effort. DeLoach finished the game with a career-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, to go along with six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Then Jamir Watkins erupted for 18 points, all in the second half. In total, Watkins hit 7-of-13 of his shots from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line. One key to this rather easy victory was that VCU gave up only nine turnovers. That was just the second game this season with single-digit turnovers.NOTES (Info provided by Chris Kowalczyk, VCU Assistant A.D.)Early on, it looked like it would be smooth sailing for the Midshipmen, as Navy got out to a 11-0 run in the first 3:48 of the game. Then the Rams roared back with a 20-4 run over the course of 6:14, capped by back-to-back three-pointers by sophomore guard Jayden Nunn.Once again, Ace Baldwin Jr. did a good job of dishing the ball out to his teammates, leading the team with eight assists.Zeb Jackson, David Shriver, and Nick Kern added nine, eight, and seven points respectively to the Rams’ total. After the Midshipmen put up the first five points of the second half to draw within two, the Rams went on a 10-0 run for 3:08. Shriver got the ball rolling with a three-pointer. Then Watkins and DeLoach combined for the next seven Rams points.VCU’s dominance inside was another important factor to its success, outscoring Navy in the paint 46-24. The home team also had a good night shooting the ball, connecting on 29-of-56 (52 percent) from the field compared to the visitors' 20-of-55 (36 percent).Bench points: Rams 27. Midshipmen 14.  Navy’s 52 points were the fewest scored by a VCU opponent this season. Tyler Nelson paced the Midshipmen effort with 17 points and eight rebounds.BOX SCOREUP NEXTThe Rams will begin their Atlantic 10 Conference play on Saturday, Dec. 31, when they will host the La Salle Explorers at 2 p.m. It will be broadcast on MASN and streamed on ESPN+. -- 30 --


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