JeQuan Lewis scored 30 points and led the Rams on a comeback in the 2nd half, but 7th-seeded Saint Mary’s proved to be too resilient, defeating VCU 85-77 to advance to the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.
VCU jumped ahead of the Gaels early with a 7-2 lead, but Saint Mary’s surged ahead with a 13-2 run midway through the first half, shooting 64% and eventually outscoring the Rams 46-31 at halftime.
In the 2nd half, JeQuan Lewis pushed VCU through an 18-4 run with a 3 point play at the 16:06 mark, and shortly after nailing a corner 3. Johnny Williams hit a pair of FTs to put VCU within 2 at the 10:42 mark, but Saint Mary’s responded with a 7-2 run, hitting open looks from 3, allowing VCU no closer than 5 points through the rest of the game.
VCU forward Ahmed Hamdy came off the bench to score 12 points, but eventually fouled out, along with two other VCU players (Doug Brooks, Samir Doughty), in what was a heavily whistled game in favor of Saint Mary’s (32 VCU fouls to 20 Saint Mary’s).
Despite the loss, this is now VCU’s 7th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, an all time record for VCU, and quite the accomplishment for VCU’s senior class who won a total of 103 games over 4 years.
The Rams will enjoy the offseason until returning to the Siegel Center in the fall for what will be VCU’s 100th consecutive sellout.