Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Treveon Graham scored 21 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the second overtime, and pulled down 11 rebounds to help VCU knock off No. 23 Northern Iowa 93-87 on Saturday.
Graham's late layup in regulation helped the Rams (6-3) force overtime and after being held scoreless in the first extra period, he hit the 3-pointer in the second overtime that put VCU ahead for good.
Briante Weber chipped in 14 points and six steals for the Rams, and Melvin Johnson added 12.
"Our bench production is what won us the game. Our bench was better than it has been earlier in the year. We still have to keep improving, but today was a step in the right direction," VCU coach Shaka Smart said.
Wes Washpun and Matt Bohannon scored 27 and 18 points, respectively, for the Panthers (9-1), including 12 of the team's 14 points in the overtime sessions. It was not enough, though, and Washpun fouled out of the game in the second overtime.
Deon Mitchell added 12 points in UNI's first loss of the season.
With 54 seconds remaining, Northern Iowa took its only lead of the second half. Bohannon nailed a contested 3-point attempt to put the Panthers up 73-71, but Graham's layup on the next possession evened the game at 73-73. UNI could not get a shot off at the buzzer due to the aggressive VCU defense.
Mo Alie-Cox's slam on the first possession of overtime got the Rams off to a quick start, but another clutch shot by Bohannon with 33 seconds to go tied the game at 83-83. All 10 of the Panthers' points in the first extra session were scored by Bohannon or Washpun.
The Rams once again opened the overtime period with the first basket, this time a triple from Doug Brooks. Bohannon had an opportunity for a three-point play on the next possession, but he missed the free throw that would have tied it.
After Graham's long distance shot extended the VCU lead to four, Washpun drove to the basket with less than a minute left to cut the deficit to two, but he committed an offensive foul for his fifth of the game.
Once Washpun left the game, the Panthers only got one bucket from Mitchell, and it was sandwiched by a pair of free throws from Weber and Graham to seal the win for VCU.
The Rams maintained a small but persistent lead in the second half. The Panthers twice cut that margin to a point, but VCU answered each time with a 3-pointer to extend its advantage a little more.
Justin Tillman's layup at the 6:16 mark gave the Rams their first double-digit lead of the game at 65-54, but that's when Washpun took over to send UNI on a run. He piled up eight points in the Panthers' 19-8 surge to close regulation and send the game to the extra period.
In the first half, UNI was able to survive VCU's "Havoc" defense despite committing nine turnovers. The Panthers shot 50.0 percent in the half and led by as many as nine six minutes into the game thanks to a quick 5-0 spurt highlighted by a Paul Jesperson 3.
An 8-0 Rams run spurred by five points from Graham cut their deficit to one, and the final 12 1/2 minutes were back and forth. VCU took its first lead with under eight minutes to go with a Weber triple.
The teams cooled down as halftime approached and in the final six minutes, each team only scored four points for a 37-35 Rams lead at the half.
VCU now leads the all-time series 2-1 with the home team winning all three meetings ... The Panthers have only started 10-0 once in team history, in 1963-64 ... UNI's loss leaves nine remaining undefeated teams ... Mitchell's 12 points puts him over 1,000 for his career ... VCU hits the court next Tuesday against Belmont, while UNI's next game is against in-state rival Iowa.