Richmond vs. VCU.
VCU vs. Richmond.
Everything it should be.
The matchup between the crosstown rivals is always an agitated energy drink ready to be opened.
Wednesday night in VCU’s 81-74 win, it was frothing.
Bodies flying, diving, jumping and bouncing all around. ... and that’s just the Siegel Center crowd warming up to The Peppas.
The atmosphere was excellent. (When isn’t The Stu bumpin’?)
The game was even better.
Richmond and VCU put on a show, as they always seem to do when they face each other.
“Richmond played extremely, extremely well. They were ready to go,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “I thought our guys were ready to go. It was just two really good teams going at each other.”
But Wednesday night had a little something extra — a little more spice, if you will.
First place in the Atlantic 10 was on the line. So was the first shot at bragging rights between the schools separated by 7 miles. So was momentum.
VCU has struggled to put consistent games together. Richmond, well, the Spiders are playing so well they’re not a surprise anymore. They’re not going to sneak up on anyone, regardless of where they were picked to finish in the conference (sixth, by the way). They proved they’re a team to reckon with.
“I would say (their performance) definitely has impressed me,” UR coach Chris Mooney said of his team. “But I feel like I was pretty high on our team.
“I feel really good. I feel like we competed and battled. ... I feel very positive about it. I recognize that VCU played better and won, but I feel really positive about our entire game.”
Wednesday night, both needed to keep hot. ... but also stay cool in the rivalry.
On National Signing Day, this game was five-star.
From the spectacular guard play by UR’s ShawnDre’ Jones and VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, to the physical, cerebral and impressive post play by UR’s T.J. Cline and VCU’s Mo Alie-Cox, to the confidence of UR freshman guard De’Monte Buckingham and the fineness and flow of VCU forward Justin Tillman, to the guttiness of both teams.
This was a battle on Broad Street.
The game was tied 10 times. There were 10 lead changes.
No player walked off the floor without a bruise, burn or bump as a reminder of this first-day-of-February game.
There was Ahmed Hamdy’s dunk and Lewis’ nothing-but-nylon 3-pointer to start and cap a 9-0 second-half run by the Rams to give them a 7-point lead in a game that was anything-you-can-do-I-can-do, up to that point.
Not so fast. ...
Then there was Cline’s and-1 to cut VCU’s lead to 2 points and Buckingham’s dunk to tie it back up.
Hold on. ...
Then Lewis hit another 3.
Then The Stu exploded.
Here. We. Go.
VCU finally was able to put it away with an 11-2 run that UR just couldn’t answer. Though, the Spiders tried.
The Rams have now won four consecutive over Richmond in a rivalry in which the players take extra pride.
“Coach showed us a video before the game of just some of our fans, just of the pride they have in our school and in our city,” Alie-Cox said. “And we knew this game we (weren’t playing) just for us. It was for everybody in the city of Richmond and the VCU fan base in general.
“We knew we wanted to send them home happy. As you heard the chant, ‘We are the University of Richmond’ they were chanting at the end. You could tell they were happy with the victory.”
The rematch is 15 days from now.