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Virginia Commonwealth 72, Cleveland State 63

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Virginia Commonwealth used strong starts in each half to close out the nonconference season with its fifth consecutive victory, knocking off Cleveland State, 72-63, on Monday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

After scoring the first 12 points to start the first half, the Rams used a 9-0 run early in the second half to pull away from the Vikings (6-8).

Senior forward Treveon Graham led VCU with 20 points and nine rebounds, while CSU was led by 15 points each from senior guard Charlie Lee and junior guard Trey Lewis.

Graham’s three-point play at the 16:51 mark brought VCU’s five-point halftime lead to double digits, 40-30. The Rams led by as many as 18 midway through the second half before the Vikings made a late charge to bring the final margin to single digits.

VCU (10-3) started the game on fire, hitting its first four field goals, while the Vikings missed their first six field-goal attempts, which accounted for the Rams’ 12-0 start.

Senior guard Charlie Lee finally got Cleveland State on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer at the 15:02 mark, and the Vikings drew closer as the half continued.

Lee’s jumper at the 8:32 mark brought the Vikings to within a point, 19-18, and junior forward Anton Grady tied the game at 22 by splitting a pair of free throws two minutes later.

VCU regrouped, however, and took a five-point lead into the break following freshman guard Terry Larrier’s 3-pointer with 41 seconds left in the first half.

The Rams will open Atlantic 10 Conference play on Sunday at Fordham. The Vikings begin Horizon League play on Friday, hosting Milwaukee.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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