RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The VCU Rams run in this year’s NCAA tournament is over after just one game, a 77-75 loss in overtime to Stephen F. Austin in San Diego.
The Rams and Lumberjacks traded the lead back and forth until VCU went on an 11-0 run midway through the second half to push the lead to 10 with under four minutes to play. Then SFA came back behind Jacob Parker’s 22 points to get within four points with under 10 seconds to play.
That’s when the drama really started.
Benedictine’s Jordan Burgess (14 points) missed two free throws, and the Lumberjacks got the ball to Desmond Haymon on the wing. He put up a 3-point shot that was good, and he was fouled on the play by Rams guard JeQuan Lewis who was trying to block the shot.
“He (Lewis) made a lot of great plays,” said VCU head coach Shaka Smart. “Obviously he’d like to have that foul back. All of us on our team, we have to own what happened, and I think when you own it you can get better from it.”
“I thought I had jumped to the side,” Lewis said. “But the ref called the foul.”
“In that situation, you just have to lay off the guy. You can’t even make it close. For a freshman, that’s a valuable lesson to learn,” Smart added. “You don’t want to learn it that way, but we did [tonight].”
Haymon’s ensuing foul shot tied the game at 67 sending it to overtime. In OT, Haymon (17 points) hit another three pointer to give the Lumberjacks the lead. Lewis had one last shot to win it for VCU, but his last second three pointer was just long, and SFA extended their winning streak to 29 straight games.
“Well, miracles truly do happen,” SFA coach Brad Underwood said.
“It was right there” Lewis said. “We just couldn’t finish”
The Virginia Cavaliers, meanwhile had a scare of their own in the first half of their game with Coastal Carolina. UVA's first #1 seed since 1983 threatened to produce the first ever #16 victory in the tournament after the Chanticleers shot 70% from the floor in the first half on their way to a 5-point lead at the break.
"I told them, `Now you have to come together in a way that you haven't all year because of what's at stake," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said of his halftime message. "I said, `They're capable of beating you. Stop being afraid. If you lose, you lose.' I said, `Play. Play as hard as you can."
But the Cavs found their groove in the second half, shooting 65 percent (13 for 20) after halftime -- including 6 for 10 from 3-point range -- while holding Coastal Carolina to just 32 percent (8 for 25).
Evan Nolte came off the bench and hit two huge 3-pointers to help Virginia finally push away from the Big South champion Chanticleers, who were in the tournament for the first time in 21 years. The game was tied at 47 before Nolte's three pointers powered a 23-7 spurt that finally put the game away.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 10 of his 14 points after halftime, while freshman London Perrantes added 12 points and six assists with no turnovers. Nolte added 8 for the Cavaliers who now face Memphis in the Round of 32 in a game that is scheduled to tip off just before 9 Sunday night in Raleigh.