Wednesday, March 13, 2024

A10 Tournament Day 2: St. Joseph’s, VCU Early Winners


VCU's Kuany Kuany going up for a layup that gave them a 24-22 edge midway through the first half. Photo by Jason Schott.

In the second day of action in the A10 Tournament at Barclays Center on Wednesday, St. Joseph’s beat George Mason, 64-57, and VCU beat Fordham 69-62, in afternoon action. St. Bonaventure's beat LaSalle, 75-73, while Duquesne beat Saint Louis, 83-73, in the night session.

No. 9 St. Joseph’s 64, No. 8 George Mason 57: St. Joseph's, backed by 48.1 percent shooting in the first half, raced out to a 33-24 halftime lead. That lead ballooned to 18 points, 46-28, when Lynn Greer III made a layup at 15:24 of the second half. 

As the games went Tuesday, so did this one, as George Mason got back into it, as they pulled to within five, at 53-48, when Woody Newton completed a three-point play at 6:40.

Mason got as close as three, 60-57, when Baraka Okoije made a jumper at 1:25, but St. Joe's forced a turnover by Amari Kelly with 39 seconds left, and Rasheer Fleming hauled in an offensive rebound with 10 seconds left to essentially seal it, as he was fouled on the play and buried a pair of free throws to make it a five-point game, 62-57.

Rasheer Fleming hauling in that critical rebound in the final seconds. Photo by Jason Schott.

St. Joseph's Head Coach Billy Lange said of Fleming hitting those late free throws, "When he stepped to that foul line, I was as confident as a coach can be in a guy who shoots in the 60s from the free-throw line. He's steadfast. I said this before, and I'll say it again. The guy since the moment he got here has led our team in pre-game prayer. He was 17 years old in front of 23-year-old men doing that. The courage it takes to do that in front of your peers is remarkable. It's uncommon. He's uncommon to me."

St. Joseph's was led by Cameron Brown, who had 16 points on 6-9 from the field, including 3-5 from behind the arc, with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Fleming had 14 points (5-7 FG, 2-4 threes), eight rebounds, and two assists. Greer III had 13 points (5-8 FG, 1-1 threes), five assists, one rebound, and a steal.

George Mason was led by Baraka Okoije, who had 22 points on 9-15 from the field, with rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Amari Kelly had 14 points (5-10 FG), five rebounds, and a steal.

Lange said of the game, "It's a blessing to be able to compete in March. You know, to be in Brooklyn, to be at the Barclays Center, to be able to compete in March, it's a blessing. It's a blessing to be able to represent Saint Joseph's University. We've had a very disjointed conference season. So through the grace of God, we get a chance to continue to get better. And like we beat a team that has been playing great as of late. That program has beaten Dayton this year. They just beat Richmond four or five days ago. They have been playing really well. Credit to our guys for coming out here and playing as united as we needed to be to win this game. And it was a battle. So we got to get back to the hotel and recover, and we'll be back tomorrow morning."

No.9 St. Joseph's takes on No. 1 Richmond in the Quarterfinals Thursday at 11:30 AM.

No. 5 VCU 69, No. 12 Fordham 62: In a game where Rams were destined to win, as they share that nickname, it was VCU who outlasted Fordham.

The first half was incredibly competitive, as Fordham shot an even 50 percent (13-26), while VCU shot 52.4 percent (11-21), and Fordham was able to eke out a one-point edge, 38-37, into halftime.

Fordham expanded that lead to five, at 45-40, in the opening five minutes of the second half, but VCU raced back to tie the game at 50 on a Zeb Jackson free throw at 11:04. That would be one of six times the game would be tied in the second half, and there were 11 ties in the entire game.

Fordham did have a chance at the end, as they were trailing by just three, 65-62, with 24 seconds left. They drew up a play in which Kyle Rose took it to the hoop, but his layup attempt rimmed out with 14 seconds left. Joe Bamisile grabbed the rebound, and was fouled, sending him to the line, where he made two free throws to seal the win.

From when it was tied at 59 with 3:29 left, VCU won it at the free throw line, as they made 10 of them, starting with the pair from Max Shulga at 3:11 on a one-and-one.

VCU was led by Shugla, who had 14 points on 4-4 from the field, 2-2 on three-pointers, and 4-4 on free throws, with seven rebounds and four assists. Toibu Lawal had 13 points (2-4 FG, 9-11 free throws), with six rebounds and a steal.

Fordham was led by Kyle Rose, who had 19 points on 6-12 from the field, 4-6 on threes, with three rebounds and a steal. Abdou Tsimbila, who was limited to 16 minutes due to early foul trouble, had 10 points on 4-4 shooting, with three rebounds. 

Fordham's Kyle Rose missing a late layup.

Fordham Head Coach Keith Urgo said afterwards, "Yeah, I mean our goal was to be the best team we could be by the end of the year. And I don't think anybody who has been watching us all year long could say that wasn't the case. We're playing the best basketball that we played all year long. It was just a little too late. Tonight was no different. We cleaned up the turnovers. They had 29 points - first time we played them, they had 29 points off of our 15 turnovers. Tonight, our goal was 10 or less. We had 13. But off of turnovers, they were only at 10.

"First game, they got to the free throw line 16 times. Obviously, tonight's 38 attempts is a lot of free throws. Credit to them. They were making the plays, I guess, on offense and on defense. We only took 18 free throws (compared to 39 for VCU). We got more shots (49 to 42). We made more threes (9 to VCU's 8. We made three more baskets. Played a pretty good game. We just - I guess we had to defend a little better without fouling."

No. 5 VCU takes on No. 4 UMass in the Quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon at 2 PM.

No. 7 St. Bonaventure 75, No. 10 LaSalle 73: The Bonnies dominated this one early, jumping out to a 22-13 lead when Noel Brown made a jumper at the 7:40 mark of the first half. LaSalle pulled to within four points, 34-30, when Jhamir Brickus made a jumper at 1:38, but St. Bonaventure still took a 42-34 lead into the half when Noel Brown made a jumper as time expired.

In the second half, the Explorers got back into the game, and they went on a 10-0 run over just one minute and 46 seconds to take a 55-52 lead when Tunde Vahlberg got fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three of his free throws at the 11:06 mark.

St. Bonaventure took the lead back when Daryl Banks also was fouled on a three-point shot and drained his trio of free throws to make it 60-59 at 6:07. The game remained back and forth until the end, as Chad Venning put St. Bonaveture back up 70-68 when he made a layup with just 1:09 left. (pictured below)

Chad Venning going up for his late layup. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Bonnies were up 74-70 with 17 seconds left, but LaSalle raced down the court and Brickus was fouled on a three-point attempt that gave them a lifeline.

Brickus buried all three of his free throws to make it a one-point game, 74-73, with 11 seconds left, and then Venning got to the line, but only made one of his free throws.

LaSalle needed just a basket to tie it, and Daeshon Shepherd raced right into the lane, but his layup was just off target, and they suffered a brutal 75-73 loss.

St. Bonaventure was led by Mika Adams-Woods, who had 15 points on 5-9 from the field, including 1-1 on three-pointers, with six assists and a rebound. Charles Pride had 13 points (3-8 FG, 1-3 threes), with six rebounds and an assist. Chad Venning had 12 points (5-14 FG), with a rebound. Noel Brown and Daryl Banks III had 11 points each, as Brown shot 5-8, with four rebounds, and Banks III shot 3-4, including 2-3 on threes, with two assists and a rebound.

LaSalle was led by Brickus, who had 18 points on 6-13 from the field, including 1-2 on threes, with five assists and two rebounds. Rokas Jocius had 16 points on a superb 7-11 from the field, including 2-3 on threes, with seven rebounds.

No. 7 St. Bonaventure will face No. 2 Loyola Chicago on Thursday at 5 PM.

No. 6 Duquesne 83, No. 14 Saint Louis 73: The Duquesne Dukes wasted no time gaining an edge in this one, as they raced out to a 12-2 lead when David Dixon made a layup at the 16:01 mark of the first half. The Billikens got back into it, and they pulled within 21-20 when Terrence Hargrove Jr. made a three-pointer at the 8:10 mark. The Dukes bounced back to take a nine-point edge, 41-32, when Jake DiMichele made a three at the 2:13 mark, and they took a 43-39 lead into halftime.

Duquesne started the second half much the way they did the opening frame, as Jimmy Clark III made a jumper to cap an 8-0 run that made it 51-39 at the 17:24 mark. Just over two minutes later, Clark buried a three-pointer that made it 57-41, making it an elongated 14-2 run. 

Saint Louis then went on an 18-6 run to pull back within four, at 63-59, when Cian Medley made a layup at the 8:57 mark. That was as close as they would get, as Duquesne then went on an 18-8 run to take a commanding 81-67 lead on a Dae Dae Grant jumper with just 2:10 remaining.

Duquesne was led by Clark, who had 20 points on 6-13 from the field, including 4-7 on three-pointers, with four rebounds and four assists. Grant had 17 points (6-14 FG, 2-6 threes), with seven assists and four rebounds. Dixon had 13 points (5-8 FG), six rebounds, and an assist.

Saint Louis was led by Gibson Jimerson, who had 22 points on 7-18 from the field, including 1-8 on threes, with four rebounds and an assist. Medley had 15 points (6-11 FG, 2-2 threes), with five assists and three rebounds.

No. 6 Duquesne takes on No. 3 Dayton in the Quarterfinals on Thursday night at 7:30 PM.

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