HAVOC Haven: VCU vs. Saint Joseph’s (A-10 Championship Game)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WRIC) — Well, the big game is here — No. 2 seed VCU (24-9, 14-4) is defending their A-10 Tournament Title against the Hawks of No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s (26-7, 13-5). The Rams won their only meeting on Jan. 5, 85-82. The key to victory for the Rams — stop Isaiah Miles (18 ppg), DeAndre Bembry (17 ppg).

Saint Joe’s took out George Washington and Dayton to make it to the finals; VCU took down UMass and Davidson to get to this place.

Enter the 8News March Mayhem contest

Tale of the tape:

Number 4 Seed: The Saint Joseph’s Hawks (Philadelphia, Pa.)

  • Record: 6-7 overall, 13-5 in A-10
  • Coach: Phil Martelli (399-272)
  • Top Scorers: Isaiah Miles (18 ppg), DeAndre Bembry (17 ppg)
  • Top Rebounder:  Isaiah Miles (8.1 rpg)
  • Three-pointers made:  Isaiah Miles (57)
  • Points Per Game: 76.9
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 69.2
  • Scoring Offense Rank: 6
  • Scoring Defense Rank: 6
  • Scoring Margin Rank: 2 at +7.7 ppg
  • Free Throw Percentage & Rank: 4 at .716
  • Field Goal Percentage & Rank: 7 at .447
  • 3-Point FG Percentage & Rank: 12 at .324
  • Rebounding Margin & Rank: 2 at +6
  • Turnover Margin & Rank: 4 at +.2.9

Number 2 Seed: The VCU Rams (Richmond, Va.)

  • Record: 24-9 overall, 14-4 in A-10
  • Coach: Will Wade (62-34)
  • Top Scorers: Melvin Johnson (18 ppg), Korey Billbury (11.2 ppg)
  • Top Rebounder: Justin Tillman (6.3 rpg)
  • Top shot blocker: Mo Alie-Cox (1.9 blocks per game)
  • Points Per Game: 77.1
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 67
  • Scoring Offense Rank: 5
  • Scoring Defense Rank: 3
  • Scoring Margin Rank: 1 at +10.1 ppg
  • Free Throw Percentage & Rank: 8 at .684
  • Field Goal Percentage & Rank: 4 at .453
  • 3-Point FG Percentage & Rank: 3 at .367
  • Rebounding Margin & Rank: 6 at +2.2
  • Turnover Margin & Rank: 1 at +4.16

Starters for VCU: 

Mo Alie-Cox (F), JeQuan Lewis (G), Jonathan Williams (G), Korey Billbury (G), and Melvin Johnson (G)

12:47 — After about eight minutes of back and forth ball, the Hawks jump out to a six point lead. SJU 16 — VCU 10.

Stat line: VCU is shooting 31 percent from the floor — SJU is shooting 69 percent — no further explanation needed.. SJU 27 — VCU 17.

Stat line: Billbury already has 9 points. SJU 29 — VCU 23.

Deep thought: SJU’s Bembry and Miles = 26 points. VCU’s Johnson and Bilbury 14 points.

Halftime: SJU 34 — VCU 34.

Deep thoughts: VCU must establish an inside presence in order to win this game. If they continue to live by the three, they are going to die by the three.

15:09 — VCU continues to struggle. SJU 56 — VCU 41.

Deep thought: The first question Wade or Johnson will get in the post game — is his ankle hindering him?

12:00 — Billbury, VCU’s top offensive performer today, now has three fouls. SJU 59 — VCU 44

8:32 — SJU’s Papa Ndao has been ejected. He did not go quietly.

Update: Billbury now has four foulds and the game is getting a little chippy. SJU 74 — VCU 61.

4:57 — Mo trims the lead to nine. SJU 74 — VCU 65.

4:21 — A 3-ball from Burgess shaves the lead to seven. SJU 75 — VCU 68.

Stat line: St. Joe’s is 62 percent from the field; VCU is 41 percent.

1:37 — Bembry’s dunk might have closed the door on the Rams. SJU 85 — VCU 72.

Final Score: SJU 87 — VCU 74.

Championship Box Score

The Insider’s View (courtesy of VCU Athletics)

The short story: Korey Billbury and JeQuan Lewis scored 19 points a piece for VCU, but Saint Joseph’s built a big early lead behind Atlantic 10 Player of the Year DeAndre’ Bembry (30 points) and Isaiah Miles (26 points) and held on to capture the 2016 A-10 Tournament title Sunday at Barclays Center. VCU will now await the NCAA Tournament Selection Show Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on CBS.

The difference

  • The Hawks’ crisp execution on offense and the singular talents of Bembry and Miles allowed Saint Joseph’s to shoot .648 (35-of-54) from the field in the game.
  • In the first 11:15 of the second half, Saint Joseph’s turned a nine-point halftime lead into a 70-49 advantage with a huge push from Bembry and Miles. That duo scored nine straight Saint Joe’s points during that period to give the Hawks what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
  • VCU did make one final rally. The Rams capitalized on a personal foul and two Saint Joseph’s technicals – knocking down 5-of-6 free throws – to spark a 19-5 run. A Jordan Burgess 3-pointer pulled VCU within 75-68 with 4:28 remaining, but the Rams could get no closer. Miles hit a pair of free throws on Saint Joseph’s next possession and Bembry followed with a layup to push the Hawks’ lead back to 11 points.

Inside the box score

  • Billbury and Lewis each scored 10 of their 19 in the second half as the Rams staged their comeback. Lewis handed out seven assists.
  • Mo Alie-Cox added eight points, three rebounds and blocked two shots. Justin Tillman also provided four points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
  • Miles and Bembry combined to hit 24-of-32 shots. Miles added 12 rebounds. Aaron Brown chipped in 13 points and five rebounds for the Hawks, who captured their fourth A-10 Tournament title.

Notable

  • Billbury was named to the All-Tournament Team. The senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma averaged 16.0 points in three A-10 Tournament games.
  • VCU was playing in its sixth straight conference tournament championship game, including the last four A-10 title contests since joining the league prior to the 2012-13 season.
  • The Rams were attempting to win their 10th conference tournament title game. VCU is 9-9 all-time in conference championship contests.

Up next

VCU received an at-large selection to the 2016 NCAA Tournament Sunday and will face Oregon State in the first round in Oklahoma City on Friday, March 18.  The Rams will be the No. 10 seed in the West Region while the Beavers are seeded seventh. Game times will be released later.

VCU will appear in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year and for the 15th time in program history. It is the sixth at-large selection in school history. The Rams (24-10) earned a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season title and were the league’s tournament runner-up.

The Rams are one of three A-10 teams to make this year’s NCAA field, joining Dayton and Saint Joseph’s.

Oregon State (19-12) was 9-9 this year in the Pac-12. The Beavers reached the Pac-12 quarterfinals before falling to Cal. OSU boasts NBA prospect Gary Payton II, who averaged 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.

The winner of Friday’s contest will advance to the second round Sunday to face the winner of second-seeded Oklahoma or Cal State-Bakersfield.

Ram Athletic Fund members and men’s basketball season ticket holders have received an email with instructions on how to request NCAA First Round tickets. The deadline to submit a request is Monday, March 14 at 1:00 p.m. Due to a limited number of tickets provided by the NCAA, ticket requests are not guaranteed and will be awarded based on each customers Ram Ranking. RAF members and season ticket holders who requested tickets will be notified by Tuesday, March 15 at 10:00 a.m. if they have been awarded tickets or not.

Please note that if you are awarded tickets to the Rams’ first round game and they advance to the second round, you are committing to second round tickets, and your card will automatically be charged.

If tickets remain after Ram Athletic Fund members and season ticket holders requests are fulfilled, tickets will go on sale to the general public at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15.

Feel free to be a participant — this is a fan friendly blog. Send me a video of your pre-game, in-game, and/or post-game analysis to rcrocker@wric.com and I might post it. You can tweet at me too @RobbCrockerWRIC. I just might retweet you or make you famous here on the blog. Remember kids, keep it clean, your parents could be watching!

Not a fan of the Rams? Then follow 8News’ Richmond Spider blog, Arachnophilia.

8Sports will have a crew in New York covering VCU and UR as they compete in this week’s conference tournament. Stay with our Havoc Haven and Arachnophilia blogs for complete coverage. 

Comments are closed.