Lewis scores career-high 29; VCU beats Richmond 94-89 in OT

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Melvin Johnson recognized that his offense wasn't coming, so he got after his teammates who were having success to carry the load.

And then, in the clutch, Johnson did his part, too, scoring six of his 17 points in overtime as VCU beat Richmond 94-89 Saturday for its eighth consecutive victory.

"If those guys' confidence is up, we're a bigtime team in my opinion," Johnson said after fellow guards JeQuan Lewis and Korey Billbury combined for 49 points.

Lewis scored a career-high 29 points, mainly on relentless drives to the basket, and Billbury had 20 for the Rams (13-5, 5-0 Atlantic 10).

"They have some weak spots and we tried to exploit them," Lewis said after making 9 of 14 shots. "When I got a big on me, I just tried to drive it."

Johnson made just 6 of 19 shots, but he scored on a drive in overtime and then made four free throws in the final 2:05 to help clinch it.

"We were connected as a team today," Rams coach Will Wade said. "We withstood all their runs and that's a credit to Melvin's senior leadership."

ShawnDre' Jones had 26 points, T.J. Cline had 22 and Terry Allen 18 for the Spiders (10-7, 2-3). Trey Davis added 16, all in the second half, but he and Cline each missed a pair of free throws in overtime. Davis also missed a free throw with 50 seconds left in regulation that would have given Richmond a three-point lead, and the Rams tied it when Justin Tillman scored on a dunk with 34 seconds left.

In overtime, Jones scored first for Richmond, and Johnson answered. Davis and Cline then each missed a pair of free throws for the Spiders, and Mo Alie-Cox hit a pair to give VCU an 88-86 lead. A 3-point play by Jones put Richmond back on top, but Johnson his four straight from the line, the last two with 3.1 seconds left, and Alie-Cox intercepted a pass and drove in for a thunderous dunk.

Richmond used only seven players, three for at least 41 minutes and two others for 30. The seventh player, Khwan Fore, played seven minutes, leading Spiders coach Chris Mooney to agree it was possible his players got tired.

"It's definitely possible," Mooney said. "I think our depth is something I just need to make sure we do a little better job on. We have a couple of freshmen that can play and I haven't played them enough. And I think I need to trust them a little bit more."

The game between cross-town rivals featured 11 ties and 20 lead changes, and neither team led by more than three in the second half until Davis scored on a layup with 3:47 left to put the Spiders ahead 77-73.

The teams, who both shot better than 57 percent in the half, traded baskets until Richmond was whistled for having six players on the court with 1:37 to go. Johnson made the free throw, pulling the Rams to within 81-80, and after Davis and Lewis each made a pair, Davis made only one of two with 50.7 seconds left and Tillman's dunk forced the overtime.

Mooney said the technical was "100 percent on me," calling it a miscommunication during a timeout as to who was in and who was out of the lineup.


VCU: The Rams shot 61.1 percent in their previous game, an 88-54 victory against Fordham. It was VCU's best shooting performance since it hit 63.1 percent in a 112-53 victory against Towson on Jan. 27, 2010. ... The Rams forced an average of 19.4 turnovers during the first seven games of their winning streak, but got Richmond to cough it up just 12 times.

Richmond: Marshall Wood tied a Spiders record by making a combined 12 3-pointers in his two previous games, but was just 1 of 4 against VCU.


VCU is at home against Duquesne on Wednesday night.

Richmond has a week to get ready for a visit from Davidson next Saturday.

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