Rams’ magical run comes to an end
Watching VCU punch a ticket to the Final 4 after demoralizing top-seeded Kansas, amazing.
Learning Buick was going to fly me to Houston, put me up in a hotel, and give me a brand new Buick LaCrosse to drive around (a slight upgrade over my ’73 VW Super Beetle), unbelievable.
Walking through the tunnel of Reliant stadium and seeing a 94′ basketball court raised and centered among roughly 76,500 seats…the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
The Rams run may have ended in a 70-62 loss at the hands of last year’s national runner-up, Butler Bulldogs, but I, like many other Ram fans who have followed this team for god knows how long, will forever have have the memories of the madest March in VCU, CAA, and quite possibly NCAA history, etched into my brain.
The Bulldogs opened the game on a 5-0 run while VCU seemed to shake some nerves early, missing their first five attempts in the contest. But the Rams soon found the 3-point prowess that got them to this point, hitting their next three shots, all from long range, part of a 15-2 run.
Butler answered with an 8-0 run to tie the game, grabbing four offensive rebounds in roughly two and a half minutes, and hitting four free throws.
Both statistical categories would be a major theme in last night’s contest.
The Rams were badly beaten on the glass, as Butler grabbed 16 offensive boards and a 16 overall rebound advantage.
A large part of this was perhaps due in part to VCU’s bigs saddled with foul trouble, seeing DJ Haley, Juvonte Reddic, and Toby Veal pick up 8 total fouls in a combined 25 minutes of play.
The Rams finished the game with a -12 disadvantage at the free throw line, as VCU was whistled eight more times than the Bulldogs on the night.
Jamie Skeen picked up four fouls of his own, but posted a game high 27 points, his second consecutive 26+ point performance.
Skeen added six rebounds and three assists in the loss.
Bradford Burgess was the only other Ram in double digits, scoring 15 points, 12 of which came from long range.
Burgess lead all players with nine rebounds.
Unfortunately for VCU, Butler was able to do what they are known for inÂ shutting downÂ opposing guards.
No Ram outside of Skeen and Burgess could break the 4-point mark, as VCU’s senior guard trio of Joey Rodriguez, Ed Nixon, and Brandon Rozzell combined for just seven points in the loss, a season low for the experienced group, hitting just 3-of-18 shots in the game.
Joey Rodriguez lead all players withÂ eight assists, and added two steals in a game where VCU turned the Bulldogs over only nine times.
While unable to catch the 3-point magic that propelled them to the national semi’s, VCU’s eight makes from long range gave them the all-time record for tripples made in a tournament at 61.
Even in the loss, the Rams will head home from Houston heros, winning more NCAA tournament games (5) than any other team from the state of Virginia.
VCU will say goodbye to four seniors, Jamie Skeen, Joey Rodriguez, Ed Nixon, and Brandon Rozzell, one of the most succesful groups in VCU history, winning a 103 games over four season, making four postseason appearances including a CBI Championship and a 5-2 record in NCAA tournament games.
The loss was also Shaka Smart’s first ever post season L, coming just a game away from a national title shot.