RICHMOND -- Guard Treveon Graham had 17 points and guard Briante Weber contributed 13 points and four steals as Virginia Commonwealth used its swarming defense to topple Saint Louis, 67-56, on Saturday. In avenging a loss two weeks ago at Saint Louis, the Rams (22-7, 10-4 in the Atlantic 10) forced 17 turnovers and held the Billikens to their season low in points. The Rams took the lead in the opening minutes on a fast-break dunk by Graham, hiked it to 15 points in the first half and never led by fewer than seven points in the second half. It was the second straight loss and first on the road this season for Saint Louis (25-4, 12-2), which got 18 points from point guard Jordair Jett. The Billikens still can capture their second straight A-10 regular season title with a victory Wednesday over Dayton or on Sunday at Massachusetts. Every time the Billikens had a chance to get close on Saturday, they were thwarted by the defense of the Rams. Their last opportunity came with less than two minutes left when they had the ball and trailed by eight points. But Weber stripped the ball from Jett in mid-dribble and fed streaking guard Melvin Johnson for a layup. After another Saint Louis turnover, Graham passed to Juvonte Reddic for a dunk and a 64-52 lead with 1:05 left. Saint Louis appeared rattled early by the raucous atmosphere at Siegel Center. On the Billikens' first two possessions, Jett scored on driving layups. But Saint Louis turned it over on its next three trips, with one of the errors paving the way for a dunk Graham, which gave Virginia Commonwealth a lead it would hold the rest of the way. Throughout the half, the Rams' full-court pressure discombobulated the Saint Louis offense. But the Billikens stayed in the game by hitting 4-of-6 3-point shots, including two by senior guard Mike McCall Jr., and by defending the three-point line. In the half, Virginia Commonwealth made only 1-of-9 shots from beyond the arc. Mo Alie-Cox, a 6-6, 250-pound freshman, helped the Rams to their biggest lead of the half, 38-23, when he hit a layup, blocked a shot by Jett, and followed with two free throws at the end of a 10-0 run. Cox had four blocked shots in the half as the Rams established their dominance inside. They also had a 21-12 edge on the boards in the half. Saint Louis guard Austin McBroom halted the string with a 3-pointer and senior forward Jake Barnett added a breakaway layup as the Billikens whittled the halftime lead to 38-28. NOTES: Saturday was Virginia Commonwealth's 49th consecutive sellout, the fifth-longest active streak in the NCAA behind Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Gonzaga. ... The first two meetings between Saint Louis and Virginia Commonwealth came in the 2010 CBI finals, with the Rams capturing the best-of-three series, 2-0. ... Up next for Virginia Commonwealth is crosstown rival Richmond. The Rams won the first meeting, 81-70, at home on Feb. 1. ... Saint Louis will host Dayton on Wednesday night. The Billikens won at Dayton, 67-59, on Jan. 11.
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