NEW YORK -- The defense does not create the constant havoc it did under Shaka Smart but VCU still created chaos Friday, especially on the interior.
Melvin Johnson scored 19 points and VCU used a dominating inside game to pull away in the second half and beat Massachusetts 85-70 in the Atlantic 10 tournament quarterfinals.
The second-seeded Rams (23-9) scored 50 points in the paint, grabbed 20 of their 49 rebounds on the offensive end to compensate for a 1-of-16 showing from 3-point range. VCU's dominance inside helped them reach the semifinals for the fourth straight year to face the winner of Davidson-St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
"I think that's growth in our team and our program," Rams coach Will Wade said. "We've been pretty reliant on the 3 in the past. I think this year we've had some games like this. The Davidson game at home we were the exact same way. We just pounded that thing in the paint and were able to score. So that's just growth in our team."
The Rams held a 39-30 lead at halftime and put the game away early in the second half, turning missed shots and turnovers by UMass into frequent layups. They took a 52-32 lead with about 14 1/2 minutes left on a layup by Lewis and built a 26-point lead a few minutes later.
"I think in the last home game we won against Davidson also, we hit one 3 also," VCU forward Mo Alie-Cox. "We just try to keep attacking the paint, kill them on the glass."
The only concern for VCU was Johnson, who appeared to injure his ankle shooting a 3 in the final minute. Johnson had postgame treatment and Wade didn't think he would miss any time.
"They obviously won the game on the backboards with 20 offensive rebounds that turned into points," Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg said. "I thought that was the difference in the game"