Rushed Reactions: #12 Stephen F.Austin 77, #5 VCU 75 (OT)Posted by Andrew Murawa on March 21st, 2014
Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion. Three Key Takeaways.
- Madness. With four minutes left, Stephen F. Austin was down 10 points, was having little success navigating VCU’s press, and looked to be wrapping up a nice but otherwise unmemorable season. And then a hard-earned late-clock layup from Thomas Walkup, followed by a forced turnover and a Jacob Parker three started a run. They still remained down four with 10 seconds left, sending VCU to the line for a pair of free throws, and all but left for dead. Two missed free throws later, a Desmond Haymon three dropped and he helped sucker an official into calling a foul on the shot. Following a timeout, he came back out and knocked in one of the most cold-blooded free throws you’ll ever see to force overtime. At that point, the Lumberjacks had the crowd fully on its side, dodged a last-second three from JeQuan Lewis that seemed to be dying to go through the rim, and improbably advanced to the round of 32. Oh, and like 10 other things that my disheveled brain can’t begin to process yet happened in the middle there too. Phenomenal.
- Who’s Stephen F. Austin? If you’ve looked for it, you’ve heard analysts from all over the college basketball world tell you since Sunday about the chances that Stephen F. Austin would have against VCU today. And you know what? Most of it was nonsense. How many people saw them play more than once or twice all season long? A handful? Well, we got to know this team quickly as a scrappy, undersized, hard-working bunch that features plenty of solid ball-handlers and good decision-makers — the type of team that could withstand VCU’s havoc and keep things close. In the first half, they quickly won over the Viejas Arena crowd and earned themselves a lot of fans, those same people who turned into assets late in regulation and in overtime. As we saw late in the game, this is also a team that has a little bit of magic on its side.
- Havoc. In the first half, Stephen F. Austin handled the VCU press about as well as could be hoped, turning it over just five times in 31 possessions. But things changed drastically in the second half as the Lumberjacks wilted under the Rams’ havoc. They turned it over nine times on their first 17 possessions and a 10-point lead early in the second half turned into an 11-point deficit after a 24-3 VCU run between the 18:42 and 8:23 marks of the second half. SFA’s nine turnovers turned into seven layups, two dunks and a three for VCU, but in the final 8:23 of regulation plus the five-minute overtime, the ‘Jacks only turned it over three more times.
Star of the Game. Desmond Haymon, Stephen F. Austin. Not only did Haymon knock in the big three with three seconds left; not only did he put on a fine acting job to draw the whistle to earn a shot at a game-tying free throw; not only did he then drill that free throw after having to spend three minutes in the huddle thinking about just such a prospect — but then Haymon came back in overtime and drilled the prettiest looking isolation stepback three to jump the ‘Jacks back over the Rams to a 74-73 lead that they would never relinquish. Onions, indeed. Seventeen points, seven boards and three assists does not begin to tell the story of Haymon’s game.
Sights & Sounds. The VCU Band. Just wow. This is the perfect band to accompany their team’s style. Big, brash, loud and fun. Viejas Arena is by no means a small place, but the VCU band’s sound did not have any problems filling it up. Coupled with a fun spirit squad and a vocal group of fans, VCU brought a ton of energy to the Friday evening crowd.
Quotable. “I just shot it with confidence. He kind of closed out on me kind of hard, I just stuck with my follow through and he knocked me down.” – Desmond Haymon on his game-saving four-point play.
What’s Next? Stephen F. Austin will move on as a lovable Cinderalla to face the winner of tonight’s UCLA vs. Tulsa game, while VCU’s season is over. For the Rams, talented center Juvonte Reddic and sharp-shooting guard Rob Brandenburg will graduate, but as always for Shaka Smart, it will be next man up.