Game #9-513: Saint Joseph`s Hawks vs. Virginia Commonwealth RamsMarch 15, 2013 6:30 pm
The A-10 tournament was into the evening session on the second day before the VCU Rams took to the court. While the Rams were idle up to that point, their fans were certainly not. Throughout the opening round, during which its team had a bye, VCU fans were frequently seen inside the Barclays Center and all around its general vicinity. By contrast, the fans of the other teams with an opening round bye (Saint Louis, Temple, and LaSalle) ended up representing their teams fairly well when they finally were in action, but those fans were very hard to find on the opening round Thursday. It was apparent that many of the VCU supporters were not only rabid followers of their own team, but generally avid fans of the game itself. Their fans were fun to interact with throughout the week, and I appreciated their love of both their team and Our Game.
The Rams faced the Saint Joseph's Hawks in their quarterfinal matchup. These teams had met relatively early in the conference season at VCU, and Saint Joseph's was on the verge of picking up a quality road win there before fading in the final minutes of regulation and the resulting overtime session. While they lost that game, you had to think that the Hawks would have some confidence in this rematch, especially with an experienced set of guards in Carl Jones, Chris Wilson, and Langston Galloway.
To the surprise of no one, the Rams jumped out to an early lead. Forcing the tempo to their liking from the opening tap, four of the five VCU starters had scored from the field within the first two minutes of the game. Melvin Johnson soon entered the game for VCU and added six quick points of his own to give the Rams an early 14-6 lead.
The Hawks had decided to utilize Halil Kanacevic as sort of a point forward when their guards were able to break the VCU Havoc press. Of their first four field goals, Kanacevic scored two of them on driving layups to the basket after the press was broken, and he assisted on the other two. The game was being officiated tightly, and fouls were mounting, especially for VCU. By the under 8:00 media timeout, Saint Joseph's had nearly offset VCU's initial surge, trailing only 19-17, and they were just one foul away from being in the double bonus for the rest of the half.
VCU cut back on the fouls for the remainder of the first half, but didn't have to sacrifice its defensive intensity. SJU went without a field goal for over five minutes as the half ended. On the three team fouls the Rams committed over the rest of the half, the Hawks were only able to convert on two of the six resulting free throws. Saint Joseph's went to the break trailing 33-23, and had to be thinking about some of the missed opportunities that would have made this a more competitive game.
In the second half, SJU continued to attack the press, and were much more efficient offensively than they were in the first half. However, VCU started to find the range from long distance, knocking down seven three-pointers within the first twelve minutes of the second half, four of which were converted by Troy Daniels. After Justin Tuoyo made the last of these superhoops, VCU had a commanding 64-47 lead.
Saint Joseph's continued to fight, but they couldn't make up much ground. A layup by Daniels with just over two minutes to go left the Rams with a 72-57 advantage. By this point, my attention span was seriously tested, as the row in front of me had been filled with some highly over-served local young men whose only interest in the game was to see if they'd win their bet on the "Over", which was set at 133.5 points. I know this because they counted it down throughout the entire second half, after basically having conceded defeat on their wager at halftime. At one point in the second half, one of them yelled to no one in particular, "If you're not gambling, why the hell are you here?" I didn't engage the conversation, but I wanted to grab the guy by the shoulders and tell him that I was here because I followed these teams all year long, that these players have worked their whole lives to get to this position and, that for Saint Joseph's, this was their last chance at fulfilling the dream that they've been chasing with every bit of energy that they could muster. That was why the hell I was here, and I was pissed off that other people didn't appreciate that. Instead, I eventually gathered my belongings and moved to an open seat in my section that was as far away from those guys as I could get. With about a minute and half to go, Galloway hit a three-pointer to cut VCU's lead to 72-63, and a huge roar went up in Section 107. I hung my head, muttered some profanely inappropriate remarks, and didn't even notice that Saint Joseph's eventually finished three points short of an amazing last minute comeback.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 82, SAINT JOSEPH`S 79
SAINT JOSEPH`S 18-13 (8-8) -- L. Galloway 8-12 4-4 25; C. Jones 8-16 10-13 29; H. Kanacevic 4-7 2-2 10; C. Wilson 0-3 1-4 1; R. Roberts 2-3 1-3 5; C. Aiken 1-2 3-4 5; D. Quarles 0-3 0-0 0; P. Ndao 1-1 1-3 4; E. Maschmeyer 0-0 0-0 0; T. Trevisan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-47 22-33 79.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 25-7 (12-4) -- T. Graham 6-11 2-2 17; D. Theus 5-5 1-2 12; T. Daniels 5-14 0-1 14; R. Brandenberg 5-10 2-2 13; J. Reddic 1-4 5-6 7; M. Johnson 5-11 1-2 12; B. Weber 2-4 0-0 4; J. Tuoyo 1-1 0-0 3; J. Guest 0-0 0-0 0; T. Okereafor 0-0 0-0 0; D. Hinton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-60 11-15 82.
Three-point goals: SJU 9-17 (C. Jones 3-5; H. Kanacevic 0-1; C. Aiken 0-1; L. Galloway 5-7; P. Ndao 1-1; C. Wilson 0-2), VCU 11-28 (T. Daniels 4-13; D. Theus 1-1; R. Brandenberg 1-4; T. Graham 3-5; J. Tuoyo 1-1; M. Johnson 1-4); Rebounds: SJU 29 (H. Kanacevic 8), VCU 28 (J. Reddic 8); Assists: SJU 12 (H. Kanacevic 7), VCU 17 (D. Theus 6); Total Fouls -- SJU 17, VCU 24; Fouled Out: SJU-None; VCU-None.
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