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VCU star Ace Baldwin hurt in Rams NCAA Tournament loss

Posted at 2:24 PM, Mar 17, 2023

ALBANY, New York -- The VCU Rams men's basketball team ran through the A-10 regular season and tournament without facing an opponent with the size and patience of St. Mary's.

The result was a 63-51 win for the fifth-seeded Gaels (27-7) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon in Albany, New York.

"Credit to them," VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said. "They're big and they're physical and they play that positional defense and they collapse hard on you."

St. Mary's had four players in double figures, led my Mitchell Saxen and Alex Ducas who had 17 points each.

"Our perimeter is usually pretty good as far as scoring and defensively," said St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett. "Most nights I feel like we're in a good place with our perimeter."

NCAA VCU Saint Marys Basketball
Virginia Commonwealth's Adrian Baldwin Jr., below, reacts after an apparent injury as head coach Mike Rhoades stands above him in the second half of a first-round college basketball game against St. Mary's in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 17, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Ace Baldwin was the lone VCU player in double figures with 13 points. But an awkward landing on a jump shot around the 14:30 mark injured his Achilles and groin.

"I really tried to get back out there," Baldwin explained. "I just couldn't run."

Baldwin did return to the game briefly and hit one last three pointer, but his effectiveness was not there and as the "head of our snake" as Rhoades describes him, losing his play was big.

"Things happen, injuries happen," Rhoades said. "You've still got to find a way to win. We got beat by a better team. They played better, longer."

VCU star Ace Baldwin hurt in Rams NCAA Tournament loss

The Rams shot only 22% from the field and were outrebounded 37-29 in their lowest scoring output of the season.

Jayden Nunn had 9 points and Brandon Johns Jr. and Jamir Watkins had 7 each as the Rams were held some 20 points below their season scoring average.

"We can't really make any excuses," Johns said. "That's a time for the next man to step up."

Jalen DeLoach had just 1 point in 19 minutes before fouling out. Even head coach Mike Rhoades earned an uncharacteristic technical foul as the Rams' frustration grew in the 2nd half.

"We had some great possessions where we got downhill and got to the rim but we just didn't finish," Rhoades said. "We've been really good playing downhill all year long. But just not good enough to beat St. Mary's."

"It would have been great to have Ace out there in the second half," Rhoades continued. "But that's how it goes. That's sports."

VCU finishes their season at 27-8.

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