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Sharp shooting leads VCU past Saint Joseph's

Jan 11, 2015 - 6:58 AM Richmond, VA ( - Melvin Johnson and Treveon Graham led a torrid display from 3-point range that carried No. 20 VCU to an 89-74 victory over Saint Joseph's in an Atlantic 10 clash.

Johnson knocked down 6-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc in a 20-point performance, while Graham went 4-of-6 en route to 19 points to help the Rams avenge their loss to the Hawks in last year's A-10 Championship Game.

As a team VCU (13-3, 3-0 A-10) made good on 12-of-23 3-pointers to extend its current win streak to eight games.

DeAndre Bembry finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Saint Joseph's (6-8, 0-3). Aaron Brown added 14 points and Isaiah Miles had 12 in the loss, the Hawks' fourth straight.

"I believe the game is always numerical. And here is the number: We had 20 turnovers," said Hawks head coach Phil Martelli. "They (VCU) were better. They were better in preparation. They were better in all five spots."

VCU was on the mark from the perimeter right from the outset, burying three consecutive treys as part of an 11-2 game-opening run. A 3-pointer from Johnson near the midway stage of the first half extended the lead to 20-10, though Saint Joseph's countered with an 11-2 spurt sparked by Miles and Chris Wilson.

The Rams then ripped off the next 10 points, with Doug Brooks' triple and Terry Larrier's 3-point play igniting the surge, to claim a 32-21 advantage with five minutes left in the half.

Graham and Johnson closed out the period with two more threes in the final minute to put VCU up 46-30 at the break, capping a first half in which the Rams hit on 8-of-14 tries from long distance.

VCU continued to pad its margin after the intermission on the strength of its outside shooting, as back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnson increased the lead to 57-33 early in the second half.

"If he's knocking down shots, (our opponents) have to pick their poison," said Graham of Johnson.

The Rams were ahead by as many as 27 points and were up 80-56 with seven minutes left before Bembry made two threes to lead the Hawks on a 10-0 run.

Game Notes

The win was the 150th for VCU head coach Shaka Smart, making him only one of six Division I coaches to reach the milestone in their first six seasons ... Rams guard Briante Weber recorded five steals to move into sole possession of fourth place in DI history in that category (358) ... The Rams have trailed for a total of only 36 seconds during their eight-game streak ... Saint Joseph's 0-3 start in A-10 play is the program's worst since it dropped the first eight games of the 2010-11 season.