Rams Fight Back, but Fall to Oklahoma



VCU saw its season come to an end on Sunday afternoon, as they lost to the Oklahoma Sooners 85-81 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Sooners were led by senior guard Buddy Hield, who finished the game with 36 points on 11-of-20shooting, including 6-of-14 from beyond the arc.

“Every time they needed a big basket, he answered the bell. He’s just a phenomenal player. Best player I’ve seen in college basketball,” said VCU coach Will Wade of Hield’s performance.

The Sooners also got major contributions from guards Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins, who finished with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Senior Ryan Spangler also gave Oklahoma a boost on the boards, collecting nine rebounds to go along with six points.

“Ryan kept the ball alive on the offensive boards. Tapped out two or three misses and we got an extra shot on, an extra possession,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said.

“They know it’s going to be Ryan every day, and it didn’t surprise anyone that he did that today. It was much needed,” he added.

The Rams were led by senior guard Melvin Johnson, who had 23 points, and junior guard JeQuan Lewis, who finished with 22 points and nine assists. The Rams shot 45.5% from the floor and 35.5% from 3 (11-of-31). They were able to hold Oklahoma to 30.8% from beyond the arc, about 11 points lower than their season average.

The Rams also got a big boost from their bench, which out-scored the Sooners’ bench 20-3. Sophomore forward Michael Gilmore was the catalyst, totaling 12 points and 8 rebounds, including two huge 3-pointers in the second half.

“He’s been through a lot. He started for us for the first part of the year, and then went from starting to not playing. He deserves something good to happen for him, so I’m really proud of him,” said Wade. “We need to build off this in the off-season. I’m thrilled for him. He really rose to the occasion today,” he said.

The Rams head into the off-season with everyone except for two starters back next season. Those two starters, however, are Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury. Johnson leads VCU in career 3-pointers made, and Billbury was among the most consistent offensive players for the Rams.

“We’re going to take a few days off and we’re just going to get ready to move on and get ready for next season,” said Lewis.

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