Battle 4 Atlantis
Score: VCU 75, St. John's 69
Location: Paradise Island, Bahamas (Imperial Arena)
Records: VCU 4-1, St. John's 2-3

The short story: Junior point guard Jonathan Williams scored a career-high 22 points and handed out 6 assists to lift VCU past St. John's Thursday at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
  • St. John's hit its first seven shots of the game and led 18-5 early, but VCU rebounded behind Williams, who scored 12 of his points in the second half alone.
  • Williams hit on 8-of-15 attempts from the field and knocked down 6-of-7 free throws, including both attempts of a critical 1-and-1 with 2:02 remaining, to give the Rams a four-point lead. Williams committed just one turnover.
  • VCU also got 15 points each from seniors Mo Alie-Cox and JeQuan Lewis, as well as 7 points and 13 rebounds by junior Justin Tillman.
  • Shamorie Ponds led St. John's with 18 points, and Bashir Ahmed added 13.
  • Williams twice snapped late ties, first with 5:31 left with a short jumper, then with a layup with 3:59 remaining to push the Rams in front for good at 67-65. Ponds drew the Red Storm within 69-67 a short time later with two free throws, but Williams knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1 with 2:02 left. Lewis and Alie-Cox secured the win with a pair of free throws in the final minute.
  • The Rams opened the second half on a 17-4 run that included four 3-pointers, to grab a 56-45 lead with 13:56 remaining. A 9-2 burst by St. John's, sparked by four Marcus Lovett points, drew the teams even at 62-62 with 6:49 showing on the clock.
  • St. John's was on fire early, hitting its first seven attempts from the field. It wasn't until the 13:03 mark that the Red Storm finally missed a shot. From there, VCU's defense was stout. St. John's shot .327 (16-of-49) the rest of the day, and the Rams held the Red Storm to just 28 second-half points.
  • Despite the early deficit, VCU trailed just 41-39 at the half following a steal and layup by Williams before the first-half buzzer sounded.
  • VCU outscored St. John's 32-22 in the paint and 14-7 off turnovers.
  • The Rams committed a season-low 9 turnovers and knocked down 7-of-15 from 3-point range.
  • "This was a good win for us, a good bounce-back for our guys. We put a lot into that game yesterday against Baylor. We'd been preparing for that for a while. We put a ton into that game, so it was a little bit of a gut-punch when we had the lead in the second half and couldn't close it out, so, I'm really proud of the way our guys responded today. We stuck to our formula, we didn't turn the ball over, we pounded the ball in the paint and these two guards (Williams and Lewis) made some big-time plays."
  • "I'm really proud of Johnny. He's one of our hardest workers, if not our hardest worker, and to see all that rewarded today [is nice]. When I leave the office late at night, he's in their shooting free throws and he stepped up there and banged in that 1-and-1." – VCU Head Coach Will Wade
VCU will face the winner of Thursday's LSU-Old Dominion game Friday at 7 p.m. AXS TV will televise that match-up.
December 27, 2016 RAMS BLAST HOWARD 85-51