That was a very depressed locker room. In its previous three games, VCU had built double-digit leads, given it away, but then came away to win. Indiana, just did not let them do that.
The Rams dominated the Hoosiers for the middle 30 minutes of their third round NCAA Tournament game Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland. But, the last 5 minutes are the most important, and that's when VCU flopped. They went through a 10 minute stretch with just one field goal. Then Bradford Burgess (of all players) missed two free throws with one minute to go. On the game's final possession, the Rams ran the perfect play, and Rob Brandenberg had the perfect look, but, as so many of the players said tonight, "It just didn't go in".
There were plenty of looks that just didn't go in for the Rams in the second half. The Rams went 4-16 from three after halftime, and more than half of their field goals were three point attempts (30 of 57). They went 6-13 from the free throw stripe (an ailment that plagued them in the CAA Tournament). They forced 22 turnovers, and kept Indiana to just 22 second half points, but could not hold on to a one point halftime lead.
If a team ever let a game slip out of their fingers, it was this one, on this day.
That being said, there's no reason to dwell on this loss. I hope that as many fans that showed up to cheer VCU as they arrived back from Houston last year, will be there to cheer them back this year. Winning the CAA Tournament and then knocking off a talented Wichita State team to advance to the round of 32 is an incredible feat.
And Bradford Burgess will see his jersey in the rafters at VCU one day. The winningest player in school history ends his career with 6 tournament victories, a number that even a lot of Duke, Indiana and UCLA players can't boast.
So, we'll forget about those free throws, and so will he. I just may take a little while.