Preview: Colonials and Rams set for semifinal grudge match

WHO: No. 3 GW (24-7) vs. No. 2 VCU (25-7)

WHEN: Saturday, March 15 @ 4 p.m.

WHERE: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

It’s grudge match time.

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes against Massachusett's Chaz Williams in the first half of Saturday's A-10 Quarterfinals. | Photo Editor Sam Klein
Sophomore Joe McDonald goes against Massachusett’s Chaz Williams in the first half of Saturday’s A-10 Quarterfinals. | Photo Editor Sam Klein

After successfully defending their respective home courts in the regular season, the Colonials and Rams face each other for the third time with even more on the line: a trip to the Atlantic 10 Championship.

For GW, it’s a seemingly simple formula: make VCU pay for its “Havoc” press, by understanding that there will be turnovers and converting when they have the chance. It’s seemingly simple, but not many teams have been able to do so this season, especially of late – the Rams come into Saturday having won their last five games.

Likely with tired legs after a quick turnaround from Friday night’s win, swift, clean passes will be the key for GW to make up for its lack of ball handlers. Sophomore Joe McDonald will have his hands full in the backcourt, facing the nation’s No. 1 team and No. 1 player – Briante Webber (3.5) – in steals per game.

On offense, the Rams are led by senior forward Juvonte Reddic (12.2 pg, 8.4 rpg) and junior guard Treveon Graham (15.5 ppg, 7 rpg), who scored 25 points in VCU’s last win over GW.

Here’s what Lonergan and Armwood had to say about their impending matchup with the Rams following Friday’s win:

Q: Can you talk a little more in depth about facing the Rams and trying to get to the finals?

Armwood: It’s going to be a challenge, but we beat them on our home court, they beat us on their home court. It’s a neutral site now so we just got to handle that pressure. If we handle that pressure, stay out of foul trouble, I think we’ll be alright.

Q: What’s it going to take to beat VCU tomorrow?

Lonergan: We’re going to have to handle the ball better than we did tonight and the game there. What really helped us in the first game is Kethan Savage played and did a great job of handling the ball, taking some of the pressure off of Joe. Now, without Kethan, as you saw tonight under pressure, we don’t have a lot of ball handlers, so Kevin Larsen is going to have to help us out, Maurice is going to have to do a much better job – he had six turnovers tonight.

Lonergan: It’s going to have to be a team effort. It’s easier said than done, they’ve got a heck of a team and the defense is incredible. Not a lot of turnaround time, so it’s not an ideal matchup for us, but you know what, we’re excited about playing – we can play loose and hopefully stress shots, not turnovers.

Sean Hurd contributed reporting.

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