VCU tops No. 23 Northern Iowa in double overtime
HANK KURZ Jr.
Dec. 14, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Treveon Graham, Briante Weber and VCU aren't used to losing at home, and especially not in lopsided fashion.
They did that a week ago against No. 6 Virginia, falling by 17 points, and then had a week to collect themselves and refocus.
"We just wanted to get back on track, and this game really did that for us," said Graham, whose tightly contested 3-pointer in the second overtime Saturday gave the Rams some separation in a 93-87 victory over No. 23 Northern Iowa.
Graham scored 21 points, Weber had 14 and six steals and Melvin Johnson scored 12. The Rams (6-3) might have played their best game of the year in beating a ranked team for the first time since topping No. 16 Saint Louis last March 1.
Weber said the 74-57 loss to Virginia was "a reality check," ending a 22-game home winning streak, and the week off for exams and practice was helpful. So was the urgency seniors like Weber and Graham felt to get back to doing what they do best.
"In past games I think we've been thinking about the end result instead of playing what we need to do," he said.
The Panthers (9-1), looking to tie the best start in school history, got a career-best 27 points from Wes Washpun. But he fouled out when Weber drew a charge call with 49 seconds to play, taking away the Panthers' best offensive option.
Matt Bohannon added 18 points, including a 3-pointer to force the second overtime, for the Panthers. Seth Tuttle, UNI's leading scorer with a 16-point average, managed only five in only 21 minutes of the fast-paced game.
"I was having a blast," Bohannon said, crediting the atmosphere and the tension of the game. "To go out like we did is kind of tough, but at the end of the day, we came into a tough environment and we fought to the end."
Doug Brooks hit a 3-pointer for VCU to start the scoring in the second overtime, and Bohannon had a chance to tie it when he scored and was fouled. But he missed the free throw, and with 2:12 remaining and the shot clock nearing zero, Graham made a long 3 with Marvin Singleton in his face. He's missed the same shot trying to win it at the end of the first overtime.
"One of them had to go in," he said, "and one of them did."
Washpun fouled out, and Weber added a pair of free throws.
VCU led throughout the first overtime, but by no more than 3, and Bohannon's 3-pointer tied it with 28 seconds to go. The Rams held the ball for one shot after a timeout, but Graham's 3-point try was closed guarded and missed badly.
The Panthers trailed 71-66 with 2 minutes to go in regulation. Washpun hit a pair of free throws and a layup and Bohannon made a 3-pointer to give them a 73-71 lead with 49 seconds left. Graham tied it with an inside basket 35 seconds to go, and the Rams kept UNI without a shot on its final possession, forcing OT.
"Being down 11 to this team on their home floor, and having a chance to win it in regulation, that we can take a lot from," UNI coach Ben Jacobsen said. "That's what I was looking forward to, seeing how our team responded."
The Rams led throughout the second half, but had trouble getting any separation until Mo Alie-Cox scored on a putback, sparking a 7-0 run that gave them their largest lead at 59-50. Graham had a 3-pointer off a two-man exchange with Johnson and Brooks finished it with a layup with 8:48 to play.
VCU pushed its lead to as high as 65-54, but UNI quickly put together a 12-2 burst with Paul Jesperson and Bohannon hitting 3-pointers. The Panthers, who started 1 for 8 from the foul line, rallied by making eight in a row.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers made 10 of their first 13 shots — that made them 25 for 30 overall in two games, starting with the second half Wednesday night against Denver.
VCU: The Panthers' visit marked the first time VCU had hosted ranked teams in back-to-back games. They lost 74-57 to then-No. 7 Virginia in their last home game a week ago.
Northern Iowa plays Iowa next Saturday.
VCU hosts Belmont on Tuesday night.
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