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A-10 Men’s Basketball: Shockers finally top Rams at end

ARMSTEAD’S JUMPER PROPELS

WICHITA STATE OVER

NEW NEMESIS VCU

BY NATHAN WARTERS

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

RICHMOND—VCU and Wichita State added another thriller to their budding rivalry Tuesday night.

The Shockers shocked Shaka Smart’s bunch with a grind-it-out 53–51 win at the Siegel Center, finally giving them something to show for three tight games against the Rams the last three seasons.

“It’s not a rivalry until we win one, so maybe it’s something we can continue,” said Shockers coach Gregg Marshall, who saw his team lose its previous two games against the Rams by a total of four points.

Wichita State guard Malcolm Armstead, who finished with 11 points, six assists and four steals, sank the game-winning jumper from the top of the key with 3.8 seconds left. VCU (1–1) had a chance to tie it, but junior forward Juvonte Reddic missed a pair of free throws with five-tenths of a second remaining.

Smart said the Rams’ final possession was close to perfect, save for Reddic missing the layup. Guard Treveon Graham lobbed a long pass to Reddic, who drove to his right and drew contact before putting up his shot. The whistle was blown, and VCU’s fans screamed, to no avail, for a goaltending call.

Reddic stepped to the line, crouched down into his shooting stance and missed the first free throw off the rim. He intentionally missed the second shot, but it failed to hit the rim, giving Wichita State (2–0) possession to run out the clock.

“I’ve got confidence in myself that I’m going to make the shot,” Reddic said. “It was just one of those times it didn’t go. It’s one of those things you can’t control. Gotta move on now.”

For the most part, the Shockers were able to handle the Rams’ pressure defense. Wichita State showed signs of frustration early in the game—it turned the ball over nine times before the break—but settled down in the second half.

The Shockers were at their best in the final minutes. They connected on their final six field goal attempts after making only four of 23 shots to start the second half (17.4 percent) and turned the ball over only four times in the final 20 minutes.

“You can’t come into a game overconfident. Wichita State is a really good team. You can’t take anybody lightly,” Rams guard Darius Theus said. “We’ve just got to have that mindset that we’ve got to come out and be on edge like coach wants us to and be focused. I think we were a little light on that tonight.”

The Rams came back from a four-point deficit in the final minute and tied it 51–51 on Theus’ 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 26 seconds left.

But Wichita State drew up a play for Armstead on the other end that worked flawlessly in the final seconds. Marshall said he calls it the “See Play.”

“Everybody get out of the way and see what he can get us,” Marshall said. “He wanted it, and I was smart enough to listen to him.”

Reddic couldn’t convert his free throws at the end, but he still ended up with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his first double–double of the season. Still, Smart said Reddic wasn’t as alert as he wanted him to be, just like the rest of the team.

“We weren’t on edge. We weren’t at our best in terms of the intangibles of the game that make us good,” Smart said. “It’s a valuable lesson to learn, but it’s a tough lesson to learn any time you lose a game that way.

“Being so early in the year, I’m far from glad that we lost, but it’s definitely a lesson that if we can heed the lesson, then we’ll get better.”

The Rams lost senior guard Troy Daniels to an apparent right ankle injury in the waning minutes. He did not return to the game, but Theus said afterward that he expects Daniels to be OK.

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2012/11/14/a-10-mens-basketball-shockers-finally-top-rams-at-end/

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