BROOKLYN, New York -- The British rock bank Dire Straights had a song that was successfully covered by country star Mary Chapin Carpenter that went "...sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug."
In the A-10 semifinals against Davidson, the VCU Rams were the windshield, but against St. Joseph's in the title game, they became the bug. The Hawks shot 65 percent from the field for the game in building a 21 point second half lead en route to a convincing 87-74 win that gives them their second A-10 title in the past three years.
"They hit us in the mouth" acknowledged VCU head coach Will Wade. "We needed to be able to establish our inside game to counter it, and we couldn't establish it until later in the game."
"We have to do a better job of blowing up ball screens so we don't have to help as much" said junior forward Mo Alie-Cox. "They [St Joe's] were just more aggressive."
The Hawks got a game high 30 points from A-10 Player of the Year DeAndre Bembry and another 26 from forward Isaiah Miles. Miles had 15 points in the first half, several from shots in the middle of the VCU defense.
"We didn't rotate like we were supposed to," Wade explained. "That's partly their scheme and partly us. We need to do a better job of that."
The Rams trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half, before getting an emotional lift from an unlikely place. St Joe's forward Papa Ndao was called for a second half foul, and then received two technical fouls for arguing the call. The Rams hit five of the ensuing six free throws and began a comeback that stalled when they were still down seven points.
"We needed to get it [the deficit] to single digits a little earlier," said Wade. "You need to be under 10 points [down] at the under 12 minute media time out, then within 5 points by the under 8 minute time out and you can make it a game from there."
"You have to spend so much energy to do that. We didn't need to be in that position."
The Rams were led by Korey Billbury and JeQuan Lewis who each had 19 points, and will learn their NCAA fate later Sunday evening. They are expected to make their sixth straight NCAA tournament, which is the longest such streak in school history.
"Our guys have squeezed just about every bit of the juice out of the orange that we can squeeze" Wade said. "That's to their credit. They've done a very good job. We'll get whatever last couple of drops we can get this next couple of weeks, but our guys have put it out there."
"Wherever they [NCAA] sends us, we'll be excited about it and ready to go."