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.