Jenkins leads Rams to win over Golden Bears

De’Riante Jenkins of Virginia Commonwealth soars toward the hoop as California’s Justice Sueing defends during the second half of the Rams’ 83-69 win over the Golden Bears on Tuesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

De’Riante Jenkins of Virginia Commonwealth soars toward the hoop as California’s Justice Sueing defends during the second half of the Rams’ 83-69 win over the Golden Bears on Tuesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — Virginia Commonwealth saw its Maui Jim Maui Invitational consolation game on Tuesday as a chance to make a statement.

From the jump, the Rams did precisely that.

VCU scored the first seven points of the contest, led by 17 less than eight minutes into the game and had built a 26-point advantage by halftime before cruising to an 83-69 win over California at the Lahaina Civic Center.

The Rams (3-2) will play Michigan for fifth place today. Cal (2-3) gets Chaminade in the seventh-place game.

“Really proud of our guys’ response from yesterday,” said VCU coach Mike Rhoades, whose team lost to Marquette in the first round. “Told these guys last night, today the team that gets over yesterday’s game will give themselves a better chance, and I’m really proud of our guys. They did a good job of focusing on what we had to do.”

Part of that mission was improvement on defense — after allowing the Golden Eagles to shoot 51.5 percent from the field, the Rams limited the Golden Bears to 43.3 percent, and forced 18 turn­overs. VCU also had a 39-34 rebounding advantage.

“I thought our defense was much better today,” Rhoades said. “I thought we rebounded. Our guards got really involved on the glass in the game and set the tone. That really helped us.”

Rams sophomore De’Riante Jenkins scored a career-high 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including 5-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. The 6-foot-5 guard also had a team-high 11 rebounds.

Jenkins knew he needed to take on a bigger role due to the absence of fellow guard Xavier Jackson, who left the game against Marquette after two minutes with an injury.

“He’s a big part of the team, so I had to step up and help with scoring, on the defensive end and rebounding,” Jenkins said.

Jonathan Williams, Justin Tillman and Sean Mobley each added nine points for the Rams, and Williams also had eight assists.

“We all knew we had to pick it up,” Tillman said. “Coach was telling us before the game we have to put our first punch in.”

The Bears got 21 points from Don Coleman, while Marcus Lee had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

“Tomorrow’s a must-win for us,” said Cal coach Wyking Jones. “You don’t come to a tournament like this and go home 0-3. I’m expecting our guys to come out with a fight. Expecting them to come out ready to play tomorrow, no matter who we have to play. Hopefully that happens. Can’t go home 0-3.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

VCU (83)

Tillman 4-10 1-1 9, Lane 2-4 3-4 7, Williams 3-6 3-5 9, Jenkins 11-15 0-0 27, Crowfield 3-8 0-0 8, Santos-Silva 0-1 0-0 0, Mobley 3-5 0-0 9, Djonkam 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Maye 2-4 2-3 7, Simms 3-7 0-0 7. Totals 31-62 9-13 83.

CALIFORNIA (69)

Lee 5-12 1-2 11, Sueing 2-5 6-8 11, Okoroh 3-7 0-0 6, McNeill 4-6 0-0 10, Coleman 8-16 4-6 21, Davis 1-2 1-2 3, Anticevich 0-1 0-0 0, McCullough 0-1 0-0 0, Harris-Dyson 1-4 1-2 3, Hamilton 2-3 0-0 4, Winston 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 13-20 69.

Halftime–VCU 55-29. 3-Point Goals–VCU 12-29 (Jenkins 5-8, Mobley 3-5, Crowfield 2-7, Maye 1-2, Simms 1-4, Williams 0-1, Tillman 0-1, Lane 0-1), California 4-15 (McNeill 2-4, Sueing 1-3, Coleman 1-4, McCullough 0-1, Harris-Dyson 0-1, Winston 0-1, Anticevich 0-1). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–VCU 34 (Jenkins 11), California 32 (Lee 12). Assists–VCU 14 (Williams 8), California 9 (Sueing, Okoroh, McNeill, Anticevich 2). Total Fouls–VCU 20, California 15. A–2,400 (2,400).

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