Brooklyn, NY – Treveon Graham scored 17 points to lead five VCU players in double figures as the No. 25 Rams posted an 82-79 victory over St. Joseph's in an Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinal at the Barclays Center.
Troy Daniels accounted for four of the Rams' 11 makes from 3-point range as part of a 14-point effort, with Rob Brandenberg adding 13 and Darius Theus contributing 12 on 5-for-5 shooting to a balanced attack that enabled VCU (25-7) to prevail in its first-ever A-10 Tournament outing following a 17-year tenure in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The second-seeded Rams earned a matchup with Massachusetts in Saturday's second semifinal.
Carl Jones poured in a game-high 29 points and Langston Galloway finished with 25 for 10th-seeded St. Joseph's (18-13), which had reached the quarters with a 58-57 edging of Xavier in Thursday's first round.
VCU hit on four of its first five field goal attempts in jumping out to an 8-3 lead and never trailed at any stage, though the Hawks were within two points on several occasions during the first half and put forth a belated but unsuccessful comeback bid in the game's final stages.
St. Joseph's trailed just 21-19 with 6:25 remaining in the opening period, before the Rams closed out the frame with a 12-4 run to take a 10-point advantage into the locker room. Theus buried a three to began the critical spurt, then capped it with a midrange jumper just prior to the buzzer to put VCU ahead by a 33-23 score at the break.
The Hawks came out strong following the intermission, though, with a Galloway steal and layup followed by Jones' 3-pointer bringing St. Joe's within 38-35 just over three minutes into the second half.
That was as close as the Hawks would come, however, as VCU caught fire from the perimeter. Back-to-back triples from Daniels and Graham concluded a 9-2 spree that made it a 47-37 game with 14 minutes to play, and the Rams ripped off nine consecutive points later on to go up 58-43 at the midway stage of the final session following Theus' runner in the paint.
"We messed up on a couple (assignments)," Galloway said. "They hit jumpers when they needed to, and that was the difference in the game."
VCU was still in front by 15 with two minutes remaining, but St. Joseph's didn't go down easy. The Hawks strung together nine straight points down the stretch to close the gap to 72-66, and a Jones trey that came after two Brandenberg free throws created a five-point spread with 50 seconds left.
"Just went out there playing loose," Daniels said. "We have to play our basketball, and we just attack the ball. Coach gave us the green light, and we made the shots, and he didn't have a problem with it."
Galloway and teammate Papa Ndao each sank 3-pointers in the last nine seconds, but the Hawks couldn't quite get over the hump as VCU made 8-of-10 free throw tries in the final minute.
Theus added six assists along with his 12 points ... The teams went to overtime in their regular-season meeting in Richmond, with the Rams coming away with a 92-86 win on Jan. 17 ... VCU guard Briante Weber came up with five steals in the game and now has 91 this season, breaking the school single-year record set by Rolando Lamb (88) in 1984-85 ... Jones eclipsed the 1,800-point mark during the contest, joining current Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson and Bernard Blunt as the only players in program history to reach that mark ... VCU improved to 16-0 this season and 32-2 during Brandenberg's career when he scores 11 or more points.