Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Men’s Basketball fell to No. 4 Virginia 49-57 on the road in Charlottesville Sunday afternoon.
Virginia went on a 9-0 run — including an unconventional five-point play — late in the second half to take control of the game and allowed the crowd to get loud.
Junior guard Ty Jerome hit a long three for the Cavaliers as a questionable VCU foul was called off the ball, sending junior guard Kyle Guy to the line. He hit both, and Virginia took a four-point lead with four minutes to go.
“I’m not sure they made the right call,” said Guy, who finished 6-7 from the free throw line.
“[Virginia] did a great job down the stretch at finding a way to win,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “I thought we beat ourselves down the stretch. [We] fouled too much [and] put them to the line and didn’t execute down the stretch.”
The five-point play made the difference for the Cavaliers, reanimating their crowd back into the game down the stretch.
“I think the weather was to our advantage,” Rhoades said. “I don’t think [the crowd] bothered our guys. I think we hurt ourselves by fighting the game at the end. I thought we took two bad shots in a row. [We’ve] got to execute down the stretch.”
The winter storm that hit central Virginia kept attendance low, with only 13,648 fans cheering the teams on. John Paul Jones Arena holds 14,593 fans at full capacity.
Junior guard De’Riante Jenkins hit a long 3-pointer to settle down the crowd in Charlottesville, and pulled the Rams within five with less than two minutes to play.
The Rams held an early four-point lead to start the game, but the Cavaliers stormed back to take a three-point lead at the second media timeout of the first half.
Redshirt-senior forward Michael Gilmore hit a crowd-silencing three midway through the first half to pull the Rams within one.
Freshman guard Kihei Clark hit an acrobatic layup late in the first half to get the Cavalier fans on their feet, giving Virginia a six-point lead.
Redshirt-junior guard Marcus Evans quieted the crowd with a long three as the shot clock expired, cutting the lead to three for the Cavaliers.
VCU held Virginia to a shooting percentage of 34.8 in the first half, but only shot 37 percent.
The Rams returned in the second half with their foot on the gas, as sophomore forward Marcus Santos-Silva made a quick bucket and redshirt-junior forward Isaac Vann made a layup to take a one-point lead.
Santos-Silva finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and one steal for the Rams. Rhoades said Santos-Silva has “definitely taken a huge step” as a player.
“Every game, he’s getting better and better and he’s done a good job at being coachable,” Rhoades said. “I’m proud of him.”
Jenkins hit a long 3-pointer seconds later, forcing Virginia to call a timeout and giving VCU a two-point lead.
As both teams entered the timeout, the Black and Gold faithful were on their feet and “VCU, VCU” echoed around the arena.
The Cavaliers started to get chippy and gave up an offensive foul with seven minutes to play, handing the ball back to the Rams. Freshman forward Vince Williams scored on a layup to extend the VCU lead to five.
Jenkins hit a layup to take a one-point lead and silenced the U.Va. crowd and the “VCU, VCU” chant grew louder throughout the arena.
The Cavaliers pulled away — and the many missed Rams 3-pointers in the final minute put the nail in the coffin for VCU.
The two teams’ defenses ranked in the top 12 nationally entering the game and it was made noticeable during the game.
Both teams’ top-12 defensive national rankings were made noticeable during the game, as each shot 29.5 percent from the field — a season-low for Virginia.
Virginia went a season-high 26-30 from the free throw line, while VCU was 7-11 from the line.
“I think we can go on the road and be road warriors,” Rhoades said. “I’m glad to see our guys really mad and upset because we came in here wanting to win the game and expecting to win the game.”