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No. 22 VCU rallies from 16 down in 2nd half, falls short in 67-63 loss to Richmond in 2OT

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RICHMOND, Virginia — Virginia Commonwealth made a spirited comeback from 16 points down in regulation. The Rams then couldn't hold the lead at the end of overtime and then fell short in the second extra period.

Richmond's Terry Allen blocked Treveon Graham's last-second layup in the second overtime, preventing a third last-gasp reprieve for either team in as many opportunities and securing the Spiders' 67-63 victory on Wednesday night.

The Rams' loss, combined with Dayton's victory over George Mason and Davidson's one-point win over Rhode Island, created a four-way tie for VCU, Rhode Island, Dayton and Davidson atop the Atlantic 10 conference.

Graham buried a long 3-pointer to complete VCU's comeback in regulation, but Richmond's T.J. Cline matched his heroics with a last-second layup in the first overtime. With the Rams (21-7, 11-4) down 65-63 with 7 seconds left, Graham drove into the lane and spun away from Trey Davis before Allen blocked his shot from behind, then sealed the game with two free throws at the other end.

The Spiders (16-12, 9-6) didn't trail in regulation and led 52-49 with 7 seconds remaining when Graham took a pass from JeQuan Lewis and sank a long 3 right in front of the Rams' bench. Cline matched him at the end of the first overtime, sliding free from Graham, taking an inbounds pass from Davis and making a layup with 2 seconds remaining after ShawnDre' Jones intentionally missed the second of two free throws.

"We've been very successful on our inbounds plays this year, and Trey has been improving as a guy who inbounds the ball," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "T.J. is a very good slipper, and what I thought was important was that (Davis) waited a split second for T.J. to get free on the other side of the basket and didn't throw it to him as soon as he slipped."

VCU coach Shaka Smart added; "That was a play we'd love to have back."

Jones made three 3-pointers to stake the Spiders to a 40-24 lead before VCU stormed back behind Graham, who scored 17 points in the second half.

The Spiders scored just 12 points in the final 17 minutes of regulation and went 4 for 12 from the free-throw line in the second half. Melvin Johnson's corner 3 with 32 seconds remaining cut the Rams' deficit to three.

Graham then missed badly on a 3 from almost the same spot where he later tied the game. He got his reprieve when Anthony missed two free throws. Allen then blocked Lewis' driving layup out of bounds, setting up the tying shot.

"I knew we needed a 3, and I stepped back to create space," Graham said. "When I shot it, I was confident it was going to go in."

Jones had a shot to win the game for Richmond, but his contested 3-pointer bounced off the rim three times before rolling out.

VCU shrugged off a 3 from Jones to take control in overtime behind Graham's layup and a tip slam from Mo Alie-Cox. The Rams led 58-55 with 7 seconds left when Smart elected to foul Jones, who made the first and missed the second. VCU's Jarred Guest got his hand on the rebound, but knocked it out of bounds to set up Cline's layup.

PHOTO: Richmond forward Trey Davis, left, defends against VCU guard Melvin Johnson, right during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Robins Center in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015.  (AP Photo/Zach Gibson)
Richmond forward Trey Davis, left, defends against VCU guard Melvin Johnson, right during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Robins Center in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson)

"The statistics indicate that if you foul, you've got a better chance to win," Smart said. "If we get the rebound, with 4.1 seconds or something, we're in pretty good position. But we did not get the rebound."

Richmond secured its first sweep in the crosstown rivalry since the 2000-2001 season. The Spiders won 64-55 at VCU on Jan. 31.

Allen had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Richmond. Anthony had 13 points and Cline added 11.

Lewis had 15 points for the Rams, who shot just 32 percent from the field.


TIP-INS

Virginia Commonwealth: Smart remained in seventh place on the list of most wins in a coach's first six years of his career. Smart is 158-52 since taking over at VCU in 2009, one win behind Gonzaga's Mark Few, Brigham Young's Dave Rose and Kansas' Roy Williams. Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens set the record with 166 wins in his first six years at Butler.

Richmond: Mooney collected his 200th career Division I victory, becoming the second coach in Virginia to accomplish that feat this week. Virginia coach Tony Bennett hit the 200-win mark in the Cavaliers' victory over Florida State on Sunday. Mooney is 200-156 in 11 years at Richmond and Air Force after starting his career at Division III Arcadia University.

MISSING IN ACTION

VCU played without two injured players — starting point guard Briante Weber, out for the season with a knee injury he sustained during the teams' previous meeting Jan. 31, and reserve forward Justin Tillman, who sat with an injured shoulder. Reserve forward Michael Gilmore missed the game while attending to a family matter. Richmond was missing reserve forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who suffered an eye injury during the Spiders' loss to Rhode Island on Feb. 8.

COURTSIDE

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten attended the game and sat behind the Rams' bench in support of his childhood friend, VCU assistant Mike Morrell.

UP NEXT

Virginia Commonwealth: Hosts Dayton on Saturday.

Richmond: At Saint Joseph's on Saturday.

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