VCU goes cold late, loses 63-61 to Indiana
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)
Troy Daniels stayed crouched on the floor for minutes after the final horn. Towels were draped over hanging heads in a solemn locker room.
VCU was left to experience the same feelings the upstart Rams had created for so many others in the last two NCAA tournaments.
''I don't get over games like this. I didn't get over the Butler game last year,'' VCU coach Shaka Smart said. ''You've just got to move on. What's over is over.''
Will Sheehey made a 15-footer from the baseline with 12.7 seconds left after a shot was blocked right to him, and the fourth-seeded Hoosiers rallied to beat 12th-seeded VCU 63-61 in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
VCU was in prime position for a second straight trip to the round of 16 after making it to the Final Four a year ago. But the Rams managed just four points over the final 12 1/2 minutes, allowing Indiana to rally.
Christian Watford and Cody Zeller had 16 points apiece for the Hoosiers (27-8). Zeller also stepped up down the stretch, including his first field goal since midway through the first half with 2:55 remaining. He added two free throws that set up Victor Oladipo's driving three-point play that tied it at 61 with 46.5 seconds left.
After Troy Daniels missed a 3 for VCU, Oladipo raced the length of the court only to have his shot blocked by Darius Theus. The loose ball bounced directly to Sheehey, who decided to shoot instead of pulling it out for the final shot of regulation.
''At that time I thought the momentum was on our side. We had made a little comeback there,'' Sheehey said. ''And I'm comfortable shooting at that range. It was pretty open, so I decided to take it.''
VCU got one final chance and it was a good one. Theus aggressively drove into the lane and found Rob Brandenberg open for a potential winning 3. The shot bounced on the rim and fell off as the buzzer sounded and the Hoosier erupted in celebration.
''The guys really executed the plan in that play,'' Smart said. ''Rob got a wide open shot in front of our bench. I'll take that shot again every day of the week, it just didn't go.''
Bradford Burgess led VCU (29-7) with 15 points, but he had just three in the second half and missed a pair of free throws with a minute to go that could have given VCU a five-point lead. Brandenberg added 13 off the bench, and Daniels scored 10.
''It's tough man. That's how life works. You think you deserve it, you work so hard for it . Then it's over,'' Bradford said. ''We just let it slip away in the end. They did a good job and they're a great team and they're moving on and we're not.''
VCU got the frenetic and sloppy game it wanted. The Rams forced Indiana into a season-high 22 turnovers, and the Hoosiers shot just 36 percent in the final 20 minutes after a torrid 67 percent clip in the first half.
But the Rams' own offensive problems overshadowed it all. VCU took 30 3-point attempts, making nine. It was outrebounded 36-23 and too many times allowed Indiana to rally when holding leads.
VCU led 42-33 before Watford scored the final eight points of the first half. Then there was the shooting difficulties in the final minutes, which allowed Indiana to chip away at a 57-48 deficit.
''Everybody that played was playing with great intensity, on both sides, great intensity, great energy, great toughness. And we knew we were playing against a team that really cared about one another, and I think they'll see that they were playing against a team, in our group, that really cares about one another,'' Indiana coach Tom Crean said. ''And when you've got that kind of togetherness, a lot of amazing things can happen. That's what our year has been like and that's what this game was like.''
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