- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Melvin Johnson’s timing seemed impeccable, and Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart thought it might be that kind of night.

Johnson scored eight points in a span of 57 second in the first half to get the crowd going against George Washington, and added a huge 3-pointer after the Colonials closed to within five in the second half of the Rams’ 92-75 victory on Wednesday night.

“A few shots went in, and I got a little pep in my step,” Johnson said after making 5 of 8 3-point attempts.

Johnson said Smart was after him at practice this week to stop thinking so much before shooting, and Smart said the way he adapted to that message made him confident the sophomore was in for a big night. Johnson finished with 21 points.

“When he’s playing … with freedom and he’s not worrying so much about his mistakes, he’s able to do a lot of good things,” Smart said.

Johnson had company, too, as Treveon Graham had 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Rob Brandenberg added 15 points and Juvonte Reddic 10 in the 18th consecutive victory at home for VCU (20-5, 8-1 Atlantic 10).

VCU also avenged a 10-point loss on the Colonials’ home court a month ago.

“Payback was on our minds,” guard Briante Weber said after making seven steals.

Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Creek had 17 points each and Patricio Garino had 16 for George Washington (19-5, 7-3). The Colonials played without No. 2 scorer Kethan Savage (13.4 ppg) because of a broken left foot. They played the last 43.2 seconds without coach Mike Lonergan, ejected after his second technical.

“Just frustration with my team,” the coach said, glancing down at a stat sheet that showed his team turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 29 points for the Rams. VCU’s 17 giveaways, by contrast, led to just 13 points for GW.

“We let their pressure get to us. They disrupted us the entire game,” Armwood said.

Creek scored 16 after halftime for the Colonials.

The Rams seemed to have the game in hand, but after George Washington missed its first nine 3-point attempts, the Colonials made their next five. The last of the five, by Creek with 9:13 to play, pulled them within 59-54, quieting the 48th consecutive sellout crowd, which filled the Siegel Center despite a snowstorm that started long before the opening tip.

Johnson woke them 13 seconds later with his fourth 3-pointer of the game, and after Garino made a free throw, the Rams reeled of 10 points in 1:17, getting 3s from Brandenberg and Johnson, to go up 72-57.

George Washington trailed 73-57 before the Colonials’ 9-1 burst got it back to 74-66, but they got no closer and the Rams answered every basket, including their 13th and final 3-pointer from Brandenberg.

Trailing 10-7, the Rams went on an 18-2 surge started by Johnson’s second 3-pointer. He had seven in the spree and Graham had six, including a four-point play to close it, making it 25-12.

The Colonials fell behind by as many as 21, at 39-18, then scored 10 of the next 11 points to close the gap to 12 before a three-point play by Reddic and Johnson’s floater made it 45-28 at the half.

Follow Hank on twitter at: https://twitter.com/hankkurzjr



Click to Read More

Click to Hide