The Atlantic 10 wrapped up its first chapter of conference play today with a VCU road win over Fordham that gave road teams a 4-3 record this weekend. There weren’t many surprises as we tipped up the conference season. Five of the kenpom-favored teams won the seven matchups the league opened the season with, with only St. Bonaventure providing the first big surprise while narrow favorite, La Salle, fell at George Mason.
A quick recap of the action.
Dayton 81, Duquesne 55
You’ll rarely hear me say something so negative about a team’s performance in any game but I will dare say I was embarrassed for Duquesne in this one. Dayton shredded the Dukes by 26 despite taking eight fewer shots in a loss that has got to clear out what was left of Duquesne’s bandwagon heading into this one. Teams are going to have bad nights but this looked like it was more than that. The Dukes threw up ugly shots all evening while Dayton diced up their offense to the tune of a 74% field goal percentage inside the arc. The Flyers played a seven-man roster and had all five starters score at least 13 points. #TrueTeam
GW 64, Saint Joseph’s 60
This one had the makings of a rout early as GW led by 13 at the half then stretched that lead to 20 with just under seven minutes to play. Then, in true Philadelphia style, it was as if Rocky (Saint Joseph’s) pulled themselves up off that mat with one second left in the count and started throwing haymakers to make this thing a fight again. The Hawks scored 18 points over the next five minutes and 10 seconds to cut the GW lead to 6 with 1:44 to play. Martelli’s squad was able to close the gap then to three with six seconds to play but by then had simply run out of clock as the Colonials were able to keep Saint Joseph’s at bay by hitting eight free throws over the final 1:05 to ice the game.
Rhode Island 65, Saint Louis 53
Rhody headed into this one the road favorite but it looked as though SLU was ready for the upset until the wheels fell off with about 16 minutes to play. Leading 37-32, Saint Louis went ice cold for the remainder of the game, connecting on just five field goals and four free throws while Rhode Island, led by Hassan Martin, gutted the Billikens in the paint for the double-digit road win. URI forced 21 SLU turnovers for a seven turnover advantage that proved to be the difference in the win. The Billikens had no answer for URI’s inside scoring as Martin and fellow big, Gilvydas Biruta, combined to shoot 12-18 in the paint including a combined 17 second half points.
St. Bonaventure 69, UMass 55
Not the hugest of upsets (kenpom had UMass a 7-point favorite), the Bonnies got a nice start to conference play after two puzzling OOC losses heading into this one by locking down on UMass and holding the Minutemen to just 35.2% from the field including 18.2% from deep (4-22). The Bonnies didn’t exactly shoot lights out themselves but managed to get to the line for 31 attempts, 20 of which they made to outscored UMass by eight at the stripe. UMass’ starting guards (Gordan, Hinds, Davis) almost single-handedly shot UMass out of this one, going a combined 6-24 from the field including 2-12 from distance. Youssou Ndoye did Youssou Ndoye things for the Bonnies, posting a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double to go with three blocks in the win.
Davidson 81, Richmond 67
The Wildcats appeared to be the ones welcoming Richmond to the A-10 as Davidson rolled UofR in their first-ever Atlantic 10 conference game. Richmond kept things close for about a quarter of basketball before Jack Gibbs and Tyler Kalinoski danced all over them like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, combining for a ho-hum 53 points in their first-ever taste of A-10 action. Gibbs and Kalinoski were clearly sensational while the Richmond back court continued their struggles. Richmond was a solid 21-40 in the paint but just 5-16 from distance and couldn’t stop the red-hot Wildcats who hit 52.9% of their field goals in the win.
George Mason 70, La Salle 62
The Patriots were able to forget about their lackluster non-con results, if just temporarily, by starting A-10 play off 1-0 with a win over a La Salle squad that had won their last three contests. Mason out-rebounded the Explorers by 10 with a solid team effort and were very efficient on offense, shooting 57.7% from the field and hitting four of their six three-point attempts. The Patriots turned the ball over 17 times but were able to help erase a -4 TO margin by outscoring La Salle by 10 at the free throw stripe. Freshman center, Shevon Thompson, did more than hold his own against the highly-touted Explorer frontcourt, scoring 13 points to go with seven rebounds in the win. Thompson has scored in double-digits in four of his last five contests including two 20-plus performances.
VCU 75, Fordham 58
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the black and gold Rams but a double-digit rout either way. VCU welcomed Jon Severe back to the Fordham lineup by turning him over five times as a part of Fordhams 28 on the game. It’s REAL hard to win when you turn the ball over 28 times. Seniors Briante Weber and Treveon Graham led VCU with 14 points each. Weber added six steals to move into fifth-place on the NCAA’s all-time steals list. VCU didn’t shoot particularly well, especially from the free throw stripe where they shot a Shaquille O’Neal-like 46.7%. VCU allowed Fordham to get within one point with 16:50 left to play before going on a 14-0 run that basically did Fordham in.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Jack Gibbs (Davidson)
The Wildcat sophomore posted a league-high 32 points in his first taste of Atlantic 10 play, connecting on nine of his 14 attempts including 5-9 from distance. He went 9-10 from the free throw stripe to finish with a ridiculous offensive rating of 169. Gibbs added five rebounds, four assists and had just one turnover and one foul. He’ll look to repeat that effort against Briante Weber and company this Wednesday at VCU.