NEW YORK (AP) — Defensive ace Briante Weber scored 18 points in 18 minutes, and No. 23 VCU routed crosstown rival Richmond 71-53 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Weber, who led the country in steals with 111 during the regular season, came in averaging 9.1 points. The two-time conference defensive player of the year shot 8 for 10 and pulled down five rebounds.
The second-seeded Rams (25-7) face George Washington or UMass in Saturday’s semifinals.
Aside from Weber, VCU’s best offense was its rebounding. The Rams had 20 offensive boards that turned into 22 second-chance points.
Freshman ShawnDre Jones led Richmond with 18 points.
The Rams swept all three meetings with their rivals this season. Last Thursday, though, the Spiders (16-16) led VCU at halftime at home before the Rams pulled out a 56-50 win. But this one got away early.
Seventh-seeded Richmond missed 8 of its first 9 shots and turned the ball over 10 times in the opening half against VCU’s pressing “Havoc” defense.
Weber, a 6-foot-2 junior, even made a 3-pointer after hitting just eight all season. His two steals were below his lofty standards – he averages 3.6. With VCU building a 20-point lead early in the second half, Weber was able to get plenty of rest.
Just like last year, VCU fans came out in force at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, and just like last year, their ranks included Spike Lee.
With top-seeded Saint Louis upset earlier Friday by St. Bonaventure, VCU becomes the tournament favorite after losing to the Billikens in last year’s final in the Rams’ first season in the conference.
Treveon Graham had 14 points and six rebounds for VCU, and Melvin Johnson, who hails from the Bronx, scored 13.
Richmond’s Kendall Anthony, who came in averaging 16.2 points, was held to seven on 2-of-15 shooting.