RICHMOND- Don’t let the final score fool you. That doesn’t even begin to describe the frustration.
VCU’s 72-67 loss to George Mason dropped the Rams to 17-7 on the season. That’s not what infuriated a sold out crowd at the Siegel Center or the players or even the coach.
Mason (14-10) came into the game 2-8 in A-10 Play and had lost 4 straight games. This loss gives the Patriots credibility and the Rams almost no more wiggle room.
To reach the NCAA tournament in March or even have a shot of achieving an at-large bid, the Rams almost certainly have to run the table and at least make a convincing run in the Atlantic-10 tournament that is to be held in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.
Following the stunning home loss, several fans including Kris Gordon could only muster a few words about this defeat.
“Really, Really, Bad”, Gordon said. “This team’s Achilles heel showed up in it’s spotty shooting”.
Spotty isn’t even the word, Pathetic is more appropriate. 23 makes on 58 shot attempts (39.7) and only 30% on 3-PT is not going to cut it for a team that is fighting for an at-large bid that might not be possible unless the season completely turns around in the next seven games.
Mason at one point had a 15 point lead on VCU that left the Black and Gold faithful stunned, considering how the Rams had dominated the Patriots up in Fairfax earlier in the season. Sophomore Justin Tall didn’t mince words following the loss.
“This was probably our most let down game of the season”, Tall said. “I felt like we went into the game thinking it was a free win and they took full opportunity of that”.
Going into the half, despite the struggles from their shooting, VCU’s defense was playing hard and the Rams led the game 33-30.
Once the second half began, the bleeding grew profusely thanks to a green and gold run led by Javon Greene’s intensive play and AJ Wilson who led the Patriots in scoring with 14. VCU’s De’Riante Jenkins had 16, but in vain.
Freshman Bones Hyland knocked down a couple of threes late in the second half to keep it close, but it was too little too late.
VCU forced more turnovers but was out-rebounded 48-27. That message was stuck in the locker room after the game by head coach Mike Rhoades to his players while coach Dave Paulsen of George Mason was showered in victory in the opposing locker room.
“I’ve never seen us get outplayed like that”, Jishnu Purihella said. “It looked like we didn’t put forth any effort, very deflating to watch”.
The players themselves were not happy about the loss, all agreeing that a lot was left out tonight and they didn’t play well for 40 minutes straight. The message was clear. “Very dissapointing”.
There is no time to mope as the tough stretch is just days ahead with a road game against Richmond, followed by a home game against a top-10 team in the nation with Dayton and then a road game against Saint Louis.
Coach Rhoades? He didn’t hold back in the press conference and his message was surely received by his players.
“I don’t feel sorry for us”, Rhoades said. “This was unacceptable and we better be ready to play on Saturday and if we don’t they (Richmond) will crush us”.
VCU tips off against Richmond on Saturday Night at the Robbins Center @ 4 pm on CBS Sports Network.