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BROOKLYN, NY (WTVR) — The VCU Rams again fell short in the A-10 title game, this year losing to St Joseph’s 65-61. It is the second straight year the Rams have made it to the A-10’s championship game only to come up short.
The Rams fell behind early as the Hawks jumped out to an 11-4 lead behind the play of tournament MVP Kalil Kanacevic who finished the game with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
But VCU rallied to close the gap to just four points at halftime, despite not getting any points from their leading scorere, Treveon Graham.
‘They (St Joseph’s) had a good game plan” said senior guard Rob Brandenberg. “They made us hold the ball a little bit. When we were aggressive, I thought we were getting anything we wanted.”
Graham wasted no time scoring in the second half, getting his first basket just 24 seconds in. He and Brandenberg combined to score 17 of the Rams first 19 points of the second half. The Rams took their first lead of the game with 12:38 to play on a Graham 3 pointer. He finished with 15 points total.
But St Joseph’s relied on their starters, who played all but 7 minutes in the game to withstand VCU’s Havoc defense. Kanacevic scored 11 points and hauled in 14 rebounds, while Ronald Roberts added 15, and Galloway a game high 19 including 5 3 pointers, some coming deep in the shot clock.
“We were right there in the press several times” said VCU head coach Shaka Smart. “They were just able to make those plays to get the ball out of those traps. We’ve gotta be a half-step better in those situations.”
Brandenberg picked up most of the slack for the injured Melvin Johnson, leading the Rams with 18 points. And while VCU will play again later this week in the NCAA tournament, this loss was particularly tough to take.
After losing last year to St. Louis, the long offseason, preseason, then the season is long” said Brandenberg. “We worked so hard just to get to this moment. To come up short is heartbreaking”
“To their credit, our guys really want to win bad” said Smart, who is now 1-3 in conference title games at VCU. “You’d rather have guys like that, then to have guys who blow it off, and turn the page and say it’s no big deal.”