The VCU Rams took down the La Salle Explorers in a convincing 73-62 win. VCU was led by Bones Highland who finished with 24 points, 3 assists, and 4 total rebounds. Highland scored his 24 points on a 5-10 shooting effort (83%). Highland also shot an impressive 11-12 at the free throw line. In addition to Highland’s scoring performance, Guard Adrian Baldwin Jr. contributed to VCU’s excellent defense with 4 steals and 5 defensive rebounds.
On the other side, La Salle University was led by guard Sherif Kenney who scored 20 points on 7-15 shooting. Kenney also led the team in assists to help round out what was a good offensive performance against the best defensive team in the Atlantic 10. Unfortunately, 15 of Kenney’s 20 points came in the first half. Much like Kenney, the Explorer’s struggled to find scoring in the second half of play as VCU continued to pull away.
After last week’s upset against Richmond, La Salle was looking to build momentum against VCU and add to its collection of upsets against the A10’s tournament hopefuls. For the entire first half La Salle appeared to be on the verge of bursting the at large bid for another Atlantic 10 team. However, VCU had something else in mind. The Rams locked down on defense in the second half and held the Explorer’s to 40% shooting from the field and 16% from the three point line.
What to make of VCU?
While Saint Louis and Saint Bonaventure are two formattable teams, it is my opinion that the VCU Rams have the roster that can win the A10 championship. The Rams defense is by far the best in the conference. The rams average 6.1 blocks and 10.7 steals a game. Both of these stats are the best in the Atlantic 10. VCU also holds their opponents to an average of 64 points a game, a mark that is third best in the conference.
In addition to their good defense, the Rams are also a competent offensive team. They rank second in both free throw attempts and free throw shooting percentage. Not to mention that the VCU has the fourth highest scoring average in the Atlantic 10. Let us also not forget about Bones Hyland. Every great team needs a leader, and Bones Hyland is just that. Hyland is the second best three point shooter in the conference and also leads the Atlantic 10 in scoring with 279 points. In addition, he also ranks 4th in the conference in defensive rating.
In conclusion, VCU is a well rounded team. If there was stable truth in basketball its that defense does help win championships. With the great defense, balanced offense, and solid leadership the Rams are still my favorite to win the conference.
La Salle is Learning
While today’s game wasn’t a win the for Explorer’s, it was proof that La Salle’s wins against Dayton and Richmond weren’t flukes. Yes, La Salle is still in the bottom half of the Atlantic 10. However, they do not play like a bottom feeder team. This program plays hard regardless of who their opponent is.
La Salle’s lack of a scoring leader is still their main issue. Against VCU, La Salle had no offensive response after the Rams went on a scoring run with 10:00 minutes left in the game. La Salle plays with an intensity and passion that lets them hang around with the best the conference has to offer. Once this team finds a “go to” scoring option the Explorer’s will find themselves toward the top of the standings.
What is up next?
The VCU Rams are scheduled to play Fordham this Sunday (1/31). The La Salle Explorer’s are scheduled to play Saint Louis this Wednesday (2/03).