As we enter the final stretch of the conference season, the Atlantic 10 has become must see TV. What makes the conference so compelling is that the battle goes from the top to the middle.
At the top, you have VCU and Dayton tied at 11-2. The Rams are on a seven game winning streak that included two magical wins with .4 seconds left. On Saturday, VCU took an early punch from Davidson but responded with grind-out 14-point win.
JeQuan Lewis led the Rams with 27 that night. Tillman continues to be like Pacman on the boards as he grabbed 16 rebounds and chipped in with 13 points.
The Rams followed that up with another home win, this time, against St Jospeh’s. In the 91-81 win, Lewis scored a career high 34 points. His career high included being 9 for 15 from the three point line. Tillman put in another Tillman-like performance with his 4th straight double double.
Being able to win on the road will be key for VCU as 3 of their last 5 games will be away from Siegel Center. Trips to Richmond, Rhode Island and Dayton will provide stiff competition as the Rams pursue the Atlantic 10 regular season title.
Tied with VCU at the top is Dayton. The Flyers have won 5 in a row including a key road win at Rhode Island. In the win over St Louis, the current Senior Class set a school record with their 98th victory. The senior-laden Flyers are hoping that their experience along with the return of Josh Cunningham will prove to be the difference down the stretch.
Like, VCU, Dayton has five games left in the season and there are some potential bumps in the road. They will face George Mason and VCU at home but there are still trips to Davidson and George Washington. Both the Wildcats and Colonials have been solid on their home floor.
The battle in the middle of the conference is just as fierce. George Mason got their fourth straight win with a 23-point victory over Richmond. The Patriots got off to a slow start allowing Richmond’s first 20 points to come in the paint.
Just like a good boxer, the Patriots worked the body by driving to the basket early and often. This go the Spiders in early foul trouble especially once TJ Cline picked up his second foul in the first half. With Cline on the bench, the Patriots turned a 4-point deficit into a 13-point halftime lead.
The Spiders would get within 4 at 65-61 before George Mason put them away with a 22-4 run. What made the performance even more impressive was 5 Patriots scored in double figures and they outrebounded the Spiders 42-21.
George Mason now sits in fifth place with an 8-5 conference record. They are just a half game behind Rhode Island and one full game behind Richmond. George Mason swept Richmond and will face Rhode Island on Saturday at home. The Patriots have a lot of control over where they finish.
Atlantic 10 Players of the Week: Tyler Cavanaugh (George Washington) & Donte Clark (UMass)
Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week: Charlie Brown (St. Joe’s)
|VCU||11 – 2||.846||W7||21 – 5||.808||W7|
|Dayton||11 – 2||.846||W5||20 – 5||.800||W5|
|Richmond||9 – 4||.692||L1||15 – 10||.600||L1|
|Rhode Island||8 – 4||.667||L1||16 – 8||.667||L1|
|George Mason||8 – 5||.615||W4||18 – 8||.692||W4|
|St. Bonaventure||7 – 5||.583||L1||15 – 9||.625||L1|
|La Salle||7 – 5||.583||L1||13 – 10||.565||L1|
|Davidson||5 – 7||.417||L3||12 – 11||.522||L3|
|George Washington||5 – 7||.417||W1||13 – 12||.520||W1|
|Fordham||4 – 8||.333||L2||10 – 15||.400||L2|
|Saint Louis||4 – 9||.308||L1||9 – 17||.346||L1|
|Massachusetts||3 – 9||.250||W1||13 – 12||.520||W1|
|Saint Joseph’s||3 – 10||.231||L5||10 – 15||.400||L5|
|Duquesne||2 – 10||.167||L8||9 – 16||.360||L8|
Marcus “Mook” Washington is the host of Making The Cut. Follow Mook on Twitter: @mtcwithmook and IG: MTCWithMook. Member: USBWA, FWAA