Johnson, Weber lead VCU past Richmond, 81-70

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Briante Weber knew exactly where he was in his pursuit of Rolando Lamb’s 29-year-old career steals record at VCU.

He wasted no time making the record his, picking up his third steal just 4:49 into the game Saturday and then helping to lead the Rams to an 81-70 victory against city and Atlantic 10 Conference rival Richmond, VCU’s 16th consecutive home victory.

“Oh yeah, I knew I had it. You didn’t see me counting? I was out there counting,” Weber said, laughing, afterward. “It was a great moment.”

Weber finished with five steals and added 14 points to share team scoring honors with Melvin Johnson as the Rams had six players score in double figures. Treveon Graham added 13 points for the Rams (18-4, 6-1), who led 34-22 at halftime and never let the Spiders closer than six in the second half.

Weber, considered mostly a pass first, shoot as a last resort offensive player, continued an offensive surge that has seen him score in double figures in four of his last five games. His repertoire against the Spiders included his eighth 3-pointer of the season, and a dazzling drive in the second half.

He said the difference, for him, is teammates continually telling him to shoot.

“They talk to me every day and tell me I can do, so I just do it,” he said.

Weber’s emerging outside shooting proficiency has a positive impact on all the other scorers for VCU, Graham said.

“It opens it up a lot of me because I like to drive a lot,” he said. “If they have to think about Briante knocking down a three, it opens up the lane for me.”

The game was the 46th consecutive sellout at the Siegel Center, which was as raucous as ever despite an 11 a.m. opening tip.

For that, Weber gave special mention to the students, who filled the end zones, as always, many in elaborate and outlandish costumes.

“Yeah,” he said, when asked if he was surprised so many students were there. “Friday nights are crucial, so I know it’s big for them to get up like that. It shows the level of support they have for us.”

Kendall Anthony scored 31 points and Cedrick Lindsay 21, including 18 in the second half, for Richmond (14-8, 4-3). For most of the second half, they did nearly all the Spiders’ scoring, accounting for 37 of their 39 points in one stretch. But it was VCU’s defense otherwise that might have made the difference.

“We did a pretty good job on everyone else, and that’s really what allowed us to win,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said.

Richmond used a 12-2 run early in the second half to pull within 40-34 with 15:53 to play, but Smart called a timeout, the Rams regrouped and promptly scored the next six points. Richmond later closed within 55-48 on one of Anthony’s four 3-pointers with 10:12 to play, but VCU scored nine of the next 12 points, getting five from Brandenberg and four from Graham, and the Rams' lead never dipped below eight again.

“I think we defended really well in the first 15 minutes of the game, and we were better on offense in the second half, more aggressive,” Spiders coach Chris Mooney said, “but we didn’t do the two of them well enough together for a long enough period of time.”

The Spiders also struggled at the line, missing 11 of 29 free throw attempts. They were 16 of 24 in the second half.

Juvonte Reddic and JeQuan Lewis each scored 11 points and Rob Brandenberg had 10 for VCU. Reddic added 10 rebounds and four blocks.

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