One of the more overlooked, truly passionate intra-city — and intra-conference — rivalries in the country originates from Richmond, Virginia.
VCU and Richmond etched another terrific tilt in their record books on Saturday, as the 13-5 Rams took the Spiders to overtime and got a win against Chris Mooney’s club on CBS Sports Network. It’s arguably the biggest win of first-year Rams’ coach Will Wade’s career. VCU held on in regulation to get the game to OT.
The final seconds of regulation played out dramatically as Richmond’s ShawnDre’ Jones missed a jumper, then Marshall Wood’s attempt on the miss fell out. On the ensuing flip of the court, VCU did not call timeout and Jonathan Williams’ one-legged desperation attempt from just inside the 3-point line missed.
VCU outscored Richmond 10-5 in the extra session. On the game’s final sequence, Mo Alie-Cox ended Richmond’s hopes by stealing the inbound pass and jamming the ball in just as time expired. Wade was enlivened by the win. Richmond shot better, had fewer fouls, fewer turnovers and more assists, but it wasn’t enough.
This was the kind of game the A-10 needs, both in style of play and how it ended. In truth, the conference is shaping up to be a three-bid league. If the Atlantic 10 wants to get its best teams in the best position to earn quality seeding, VCU is going to have to win a lot of games. Now sitting on an eight-game winning streak, the Rams are 13-5 overall and 5-0 in the conference. They could well be a top-30 KenPom team after Sunday.
Richmond is not going to be defensively capable enough to keep up in the conference race. The Spiders will spoil plenty throughout this season, but still look a year away from contending at the top of the league again.
VCU will earn more recognition, respect and headlines in the coming weeks if it can win its next two games at home against Duquesne and St. Bonaventure. After that, the Rams get a tough test at Davidson on Jan. 29.