Fordham nearly caught Virginia Commonwealth napping, but VCU woke up in time to survive a sluggish first half and overcome Fordham 85-66 on Thursday in New York.
Virginia Commonwealth (21-7, 9-4 Atlantic 10) plays first-place St. Louis on Saturday, and said all the right things this week about not looking ahead. But when the game started, last-place Fordham gave VCU all it could handle, and it took a late rally for VCU to lead 34-32 at halftime.
Whatever Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart said to his team at intermission worked. VCU began the second half on a 21-6 run to take control.
Forward Juvonte Reddic had a double-double for the visitors, with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Guard Rob Brandenberg finished with 16 points and went 4-for-4 from 3-point range. New York native and VCU guard Melvin Johnson ended up with 14 points.
Fordham (9-17, 2-11) had three players in double figures, with guards Mandell Thomas and Jon Severe each scoring 14. Fordham gave VCU fits inside, blocking 11 VCU shots, including four by reserve center Ryan Canty. But VCU stepped outside and went 10-for-22 from 3-point range, which proved to be the difference.
VCU remains in a tie with Massachusetts for third place in the Atlantic 10, one game ahead of George Washington and Richmond. The top four teams receive first-round byes in the conference tournament.
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