Atlantic 10: Scoring, thieving Weber leads VCU past Richmond

Atlantic 10: Scoring, thieving Weber leads VCU past Richmond
March 14, 2014, 9:00 pm
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Recap: The competitive portion of this year's Super Bowl essentially ended when the Denver Broncos bungled the center snap on the first play from scrimmage. VCU guard Briante Weber's steal in the early moments against Richmond in Friday's Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal matchup essentially had the same affect. 

Weber, the nation's leader in steals, also poured in the points including 15 of his 18 in the first half as the 23rd ranked and No. 2 seeded VCU Rams rolled to a 71-53 victory over their cross-town rival Richmond Spiders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

Treveon Graham scored 14 points and Melvin Johnson had 13 for the Rams (25-7), who led 38-22 at halftime and by 24 in the second half. Shaka Smart's squad has won five straight games and improved to 3-0 versus Richmond this season. 

The Rams will face either No. 3 George Washington or sixth-seeded Massachusetts in the second of two semi-final matchups on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. 

ShawnDre' Jones scored 18 points and Terry Allen had 14 for the short-handed Spiders (19-13), who shot 34 percent from the field. Richmond needed a deep run in the tournament for hopes of an NCAA berth. Now the NIT. 

Key stat: VCU outrebounded Richmond 50-28 with 20 offensive boards leading to 22 second-chance points. Power-packed forward Mo Alie-Cox grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench to go with seven points. 

Turning point: Weber, who leads the country with 3.6 steals per game, scored the first six points of the game. The thieving junior's second basket came after he jumped a passing lane and took his interception the other way for a dunk. 

That play immediately let all watching know that VCU's "Havoc" defense was ready for the challenge. Essentially, there never was one. 

Weber, the two-time Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, made 8 of 10 attempts from the floor and doubled his regular season scoring average of 9.1 points. The 6-foot-2 guard also grabbed five rebounds and had two steals. He did all that in only 18 minutes.

On deck: VCU split two games with GW and lost its only meeting with UMass.