Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
In the first half, it looked like smooth sailing for men’s basketball — shooting 56% from the field and 6-of-9 from deep.
Then, the wheels fell off in the second half for the Rams as they fell to Davidson 75-65 on the road. They shot a 39% clip from the field in the final 20 minutes, including 3-for-12 from beyond the arc.
“Guys started to do their own thing, thinking they’re going to be superheroes and look what happened, stuff don’t work,” junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva said. “Whatever the coaches say, it works. Just guys don’t want to buy in on that.”
Davidson caught fire in the second half, outscoring the black and gold by 12. The Wildcats logged a 47% clip in the final 20 minutes, including 5-for-8 shooting from three. VCU limited Davidson to 2-for-8 from deep in the first half.
“Second half, dudes didn’t want to guard and then we was giving [up] too many threes,” Santos-Silva said. “We didn’t run our offense, we was chucking too many threes, and we was fouling.”
The Rams sent Davidson to the free-throw line 25 times on the night, including 18 times in the second half. The Wildcats converted on 22 of the free throws, an 88% clip from the stripe.
“You can’t put a good foul-shooting team at home on the line,” coach Mike Rhoades said. “We had some away from the ball fouls that put them on the line early. That’s free points for the home team.”
In the Wildcats’ electric second half, they strung together two 10-0 runs that were minutes apart from each other. Those runs blew the doors off the game and sealed the Rams’ fate in the contest.
“We’ve got to play a full 40 minutes and we haven’t really done that this year,” Santos-Silva said.
As the regular season comes to a close, the Rams have turned the page and are focused on the Atlantic 10 tournament. They finished the season losing seven of their last eight games, falling below .500 in conference play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
“It’s win or go home,” Santos-Silva said. “If we’re not playing all the way hard, we’re going home and getting ready for next season. We’ve got to be all in. If we’re not all in, what’s the point of going over there?”
The loss locked the Rams into the No. 9 seed in the A-10 Tournament at the Barclays Center next week, forcing them to win four games in four days.
“We’ve got to win four games to play in the NCAA tournament,” Rhoades said. “It’s do or die.”
The Rams will play Massachusetts on March 12 at noon in the second round of the A-10 Tournament at the Barclays Center.