VCU basketball at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Virginia has always been the hottest ticket in town. Having sold out every game since Jan. 29, 2011, Ram fans pack the Stu throughout the fall and winter to see their team perform under the bright lights.
This season, the crowd has been thinned. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just 250 fans, along with assorted cardboard cutouts, were on hand Wednesday night to see VCU host the North Carolina A&T Aggies for the eighth time in program history.
While scarcity has made the ticket to get through the gate hotter than ever before, the hottest thing on Broad Street Wednesday night might have been the 3-point shooting of sophomore guard Bones Hyland.
Hyland started the night slow, scoring just eight points in the first half and making one of his first six 3-point shots. Despite this, a dominant first half by freshman guard Ace Baldwin gave the Rams a 21 point lead heading into the locker room at the break.
Once the teams returned to the floor, Hyland was white-hot. The Delaware native erupted for 22 second half points, on the strength of six consecutive makes from beyond the arc. VCU would defeat NC A&T 95-59, marking the first time the Rams have scored 95 points in three years.
Hyland ended the game with 30 points, setting a new career-high. He became the first Ram to score 30 or more in a game since Issac Vann scored 30 points in a neutral site loss to St. John’s in 2018. His seven made 3-pointers are the most made in a game since JeQuan Lewis made nine on Valentine’s Day against St. Joseph’s.
“I just know like, they’re going to fall eventually,” Hyland said about his 3-point shooting Wednesday. “Once I’m hot, it ain’t no stopping me.”
Hyland leads the Rams in scoring on the season, averaging 17.2 points per game. The preseason A10 Third Team selection dazzled the sparse crowd with deep 3-pointers.
— VCU Basketball (@VCU_Hoops) December 10, 2020
Baldwin stuffed the stat sheet Wednesday night, tallying 10 points along with three rebounds, five assists and four steals. His assist and steal totals led VCU on the night.
Junior forward Vince WIlliams led the team in rebounds with eight. Williams, starting in place of the injured KeShawn Curry, flirted with a double-double in the contest. Williams would score seven points, with a 3-pointer representing his only made field goal.
Sophomore forward Hason Ward tied his career-high with four blocks. Ward leads VCU with 13 blocks on the season.
Every active VCU player appeared in this game, including walk-on guard and fan favorite Arnold Henderson VI. Henderson, a former VCU ball boy, registered a defensive rebound in his two minutes on the floor.
On the other side of the floor, NC A&T never led in the contest. The Aggies had three starters in double figures, with junior forward Tyrone Lyons leading the way with 13.
VCU lost the turnover battle, turning the ball over 19 times to NC A&T’s 15. However, the Aggies only scored six points off of turnovers while VCU managed to score 18 points off of turnovers. VCU dominated in the paint, scoring 40 points to NC A&T’s 16. Much of the credit goes to transfer Levi Stockard, who scored nine points Wednesday.
With the win, VCU improves to 4-2 on the season. Up next for the Rams is one of the highlights of the non-conference schedule, a home game against in-state rival Old Dominion. Saturday will be the 96th meeting between the two schools. VCU has won eight of the last 10 meetings against the Monarchs, including a 69-57 home win last December.
Featured Image from @VCU_Hoops/vcuathletics.com