Cold shooting handcuffs VCU in NCAA tournament loss

The Rams battled, but ice-cold shooting on the night ultimately put an end to VCU's 2019 campaign, falling to Central Florida 73-58 in the first round of this year's NCAA tournament.

After a grinding 15-plus minutes to start the game that saw the teams notched up at 24 points a piece, a pair of threes gave the Knights some breathing room and a six-point lead they would turn into a 10-point halftime advantage. It was a shot of momentum they'd only build on to start the second.

UCF slowly turned that lead into a 21-point second half advantage thanks to a frigid opening to the second stanza from VCU, the Rams going without a point for almost six minutes to start the half and went without a made field goal until 13:14 was left in the game.

Still, VCU battled back, finally catching a second half hot streak to trim UCF's lead to seven points with under five minutes to play.

But the Knights seemed to have an answer for every VCU bucket from that point on, extending their lead back to double-digits thanks to a BJ Taylor corner three. The three was one of nine makes from deep on the night for UCF, shooting a blistering 64.3% from downtown against a VCU team that ranked third nationally in three-point defense heading into tonight's contest.

Malik Crowfield came off the bench to help spark the Rams comeback attempt, finishing with a team-high 11 points on the night and hitting three of his four three-point attempts on the evening.

South Carolina native, De'Riante Jenkins, added 10 points in his home state in front of a large crowd of Jenkins fans among the several hundred Ram fans that made the trip.

No Ram has more than two assists on a night VCU combined for just six total.

The Rams 58 points were their fewest scored since a 57-point night in a loss at Davidson on January 12.

Although a tough two-game losing streak to end the season, it was a successful year overall for the black and gold. Picked to finish seventh in this year's A-10 preseason poll, the Rams shocked the conference by winning the league outright with a 16-2 conference record as a part of a 25-8 overall finish on a team that featured just two seniors.


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Mat Shelton-Eide
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