By Kevin Sweeney
JeQuan Lewis had perhaps the finest game of his career, and VCU won a battle of potential top-50 RPI teams over Princeton at Siegel Center. Lewis’s 25 points and 12 assists, a career high, helped the Rams to a 81-70 win for their 6th win in 7 games to open the season.
In their first game since returning from the Bahamas following a 5th place finish at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Rams started very sluggishly, and Princeton took advantage. The Tigers ran out to a 16-0 run to open the game, silencing the packed Siegel Center. The Rams responded, though, and it was Lewis who woke them up. He scored 5 points, and set up a big three by De’Riante Jenkins to help get the Rams going. As the half wore on, the teams traded buckets, with Lewis and Princeton’s Devin Cannady making big play after big play for their teams. However, momentum seemed to shift in the favor of VCU when Jenkins threw down this posterizing jam:
That dunk came at the beginning of what would turn into a 12-2 half-closing run that tied the game. Princeton was also dealt a big blow near the end of the half, when starting center Hans Brase had to leave the game with a knee injury. He would not return.
The game remained remarkably close for the entirety of the second half, as neither team was able to take more than a three point lead for over 16 minutes. However, in the final 6 minutes, the Rams made their push. Trailing by 2, senior guard Jordan Burgess made a layup to tie the game and just over a minute later, drained a triple to give the Rams a lead they would never relinquish. Lewis made a pair of throws on back-to-back possessions that extended VCU’s lead from six to an insurmountable ten with just 59 seconds to play. A Burgess dunk in transition punctuated the victory, sending the Rams fans home with a victory they didn’t see possible five minutes into the game.
Lewis was one of 4 Rams in double figures. Mo Alie-Cox contributed 15 points off the bench, while Samir Doughty posted 12 and Burgess added 11. Cannady’s 18 points off the bench led the way for the Tigers, while Spencer Weisz added 14.
Princeton has a week off before traveling to Hawaii for games Tuesday and Wednesday against Cal & Hawaii, respectively. VCU will travel to Miami for a Saturday matchup with Illinois.