Rams advance to second round of NCAA Tournament
VCU defeated the Oregon State Beavers 75-67 on Friday afternoon to advance to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. The 10th seeded Rams shot poorly from beyond the arc, but were able to get 46 points in the paint.
The 7th seeded Beavers were led by guard Gary Payton II, who had 19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Guard Derrick Bruce had 15 points and forward Drew Eubanks had 13 points for Oregon State. The Beavers did a great job taking care of the basketball, committing just 6 turnovers, but shot 41.7% from the field and converted just 66.7% from the free throw line.
The Rams were led by guard JeQuan Lewis, who finished the game with 21 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. Forward Mo Alie-Cox also had a great performance for VCU, totaling 20 points and 8 rebounds.
“He played really well,” said senior guard Melvin Johnson on Lewis. “Coming into the game, I just told him I don’t have many of these left, and if he could do me a favor it would be for him to be aggressive, and he was extremely aggressive… He was really good for us and made some big-time plays and that’s what big-time players do.”
VCU shot 48.2% from the floor and 81% from the charity stripe. They also out-rebounded the Beavers 40-28 and forced numerous tough shots. “We sprinted out of the gate. Thought we did a nice job on the backboards,” said VCU coach Will Wade. “We had made a point all week, we wanted to win the glass by 10-plus, which we did.”
“They were the more physical team,” said Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle. “They got several offensive rebound and-ones that kind of took the steam out of us once we got back into the lead.”
The Rams will play Oklahoma on Sunday, at a time still to be determined. “We’ve spent all week on Oregon State. That’s the only thing we cared about. That’s the only thing we worked on,” said Wade post-game on the possibility of facing the two seed Oklahoma. “Half my team couldn’t even tell you who the other two teams are that we could play. This is all we’ve been zeroed in on at this point. We’ll figure it out tonight.”
The Rams did stay to take in the first half of the Oklahoma/Cal-State Bakersfield game from the stands. However, the Rams wouldn’t entertain too much talk on Buddy Hield. “You can’t necessarily worry about who you’re playing against, it’s more so nameless, faceless. Go out, execute your formula and see what happens,” said Melvin Johnson.
– Photos & Additional reporting by Elizabeth Harley