RAMS FALL IN NAILBITER TO WICHITA STATE, 53-51
Score: Wichita State 53, VCU 51
Record: VCU (1-1), Wichita State (2-0)
Location: Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center – Richmond, Va.
The Short Story: The gut-wrenching head-to-head battles with Wichita State continued on Tuesday night as part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon with the Shockers pulling out a 53-51 victory in front of the 20th consecutive sellout at the Siegel Center. Junior Juvonte Reddic posted his first double-double of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds on the night.
WICHITA STATE STARTERS: #2 Malcolm Armstead, #3 Evan Wessel, #21 Ehimen Orukpe, #22 Carl Hall, #31 Ron Baker
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The defenses would be the focal point all night long as both teams stifled each other's offensive game plans.
- VCU would grab its only lead of the first half on a jumper by senior Darius Theus with 13:29 left before halftime to give the Rams a 10-9 lead.
- Wichita State responded with a 9-3 run that gave them their largest lead of the contest at 18-13 with 8:40 left before intermission.
- The teams would trade baskets and eventually head into halftime with the Shockers ahead 28-24.
- VCU came out of the locker room on fire with three straight buckets from its big men (two by Reddic, one by Haley) and a three-pointer by Theus to take its largest lead of the game at 33-28 with 17:16 remaining.
- The rest of the half would be a back and forth battle with eight lead changes and six ties.
- Wichita State held a four-point lead with just over a minute to play, but Theus would hit three free-thows over the next 20 seconds to bring VCU within one.
- Cleanthony Early connected on a layup with 30 seconds left to push the lead back to three, but Theus would once again step up, hitting a huge three-pointer to tie the game at 51-51 with 27 seconds left.
- However, Malcolm Armstrong pulled up and drilled a jumper from just inside the arc with 3.8 seconds remaining to give Wichita State the 53-51 advantage.
- Coach Smart and staff drew up a play for Reddic to drive to the basket, which he did and drew the foul from Carl Hall, but the free-throws wouldn't go and the Rams came up just short.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:
- The game marked the 20th straight sellout at the Siegel Center, which ranks as the fifth-longest active streak in the country behind Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Gonzaga.
- The 22-point, 10-rebound effort from Reddic marked the seventh career double-double for the Winston-Salem, N.C. native. The last one game in a home win over George Mason on Feb. 25.
- The loss snaps a 10-game home winning streak for the Rams, the last loss at the Siegel Center for VCU came on Jan. 4 to Georgia State.
Head Coach Shaka Smart
- "You have to give Wichita State a lot of credit. They came in here and battled all night long. They did a good job of dealing with the crowd, handling the press and just the way we play so you certainly have to give Coach Marshall and his team a lot of credit. They were ready to go."
- "It's a disappointing game for us as coaches and our players because we just weren't on edge. We weren't at our best with the intangibles of the game that make us good. It's a valuable lesson to learn, but it's a tough loss learn when you lose in that way. Being so early in the year, I'm far from glad that we lost, but it's definitely a lesson that if we can heed it, then we'll certainly get better moving forward.
Senior Darius Theus
- "Bottom line, we just have to demand more out of each other. Everyone in that locker room has to demand more every time we step on the court, whether it be in practice, here at the Siegel Center or on the road. We have to hold each other more accountable in every aspect of the game."
COMING UP NEXT:
- VCU returns to action on Saturday afternoon when it hits the road for the first time this year for a showdown in Rock Hill, S.C. against the Eagles of Winthrop University.