VCU got 18 points and 9 rebounds from Justin Tillman and hit 77% of their 31 free throws to hold off Richmond down the stretch for an 81-74 win at the Siegel Center. Freshman Samir Doughty added 16 as VCU improved to 17-5 overall, and 7-2 in the A-10, good for a first place tie with Dayton whom the Rams knocked off last Friday.
"It was a good win" said VCU head coach Will Wade. "I think we were able to pound the paint and get to the free throw line over the last 6-8 minutes of the game. That allowed us to pull away."
The game featured 10 lead changes and 10 ties. USWBA national player of the week T.J. Cline had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists for the Spiders while senior guard ShawnDre' Jones poured in a game high 30 points.
"I thought it was a really well played game on both ends" said Spiders head coach Chris Mooney.
"Jones was outstanding" Wade added. "We couldn't guard him off the bounce but luckily we made some plays when we needed to."
Richmond actually outrebounded VCU 30-27, but the Rams were able to score more inside thanks to the trio of Tillman, Mo Alie-Cox and Ahmed Hamdy who combined for 40 points and 17 rebounds.
"I give Will credit" said Mooney. "They are able to play 3 around 2, which has two big guys in the game at the same time and they do it almost the whole game. That's a big strength of their team."
"I was a little disappointed with our defensive rebounding" Wade said. "I thought our guys went hard and all three of our big guys played really well."
The Rams have won four straight against Richmond and are 10-1 this season when they have 12 turnovers or less. VCU travels next to St. Bonaventure. The Spiders (13-9, 7-3) fall a half game out of first in the A-10 and host George Washington on Saturday.