Virginia Fails to Execute Down Stretch in Loss to VCU

By Joe Atmonavage

It appeared as if the Virginia Cavaliers were going to come away with a huge home win against the No. 14 ranked VCU Rams tonight. They were controlling the tempo of the game late and playing their lockdown defense that they are known for. However, they failed to execute for the entire 40 minutes and the Rams used a late run to top the Cavaliers 59-56 in Charlottesville, Va. tonight.

After a Darion Atkins-made jumper with 2:55 remaining, Virginia led VCU 55-49. In a game where scoring was not coming easy to say the least, it seemed as if Virginia might hold on. Except VCU came out and attacked them and Virginia could not execute offensively. Virginia did not score another point until 10 seconds was left in the game off a Malcolm Brogdon foul shot. His foul shot tied up the game after a quick 7-0 run by VCU.

Virginia’s last few possessions were disastrous. After a Juvonte Reddic dunk for VCU, Joe Harris drove out of control along baseline early into the shot clock right into an easy offensive foul. VCU then came down and nailed a three to come within one. The Cavaliers never got a good shot the rest of the game. Harris air-balled a three that was a desperation heave to beat the shot clock on one of the critical possessions late in this one. Brogdon even was bailed out on a questionable call when he got to the line to tie the game with 10 seconds to go and even then he did not execute missing one of the free throws to take the lead.

So, what was Virginia’s problem down the stretch? A lot of it was VCU turning up the tempo and really making Virginia uncomfortable. Without a proven point guard on their roster, Virginia had no one to be that steady influence late in this game. Brogdon and freshman London Perrantes handled the daunting task of playing point guard against the Rams decently through 37 minutes. But playing in crunch time against it is a whole other league and was a big part of why Virginia was unable to execute down the stretch and improve to 2-0 on the season. Brogdon also made a huge defensive mistake coming off Treveon Graham, who hit the game-winning three for VCU on their final possession.

If Virginia puts together one or two solid possessions and gets a score or two down the stretch, Tony Bennett and his ball club would have had a marquee win on their resume very early in the college basketball season. However, they just did not execute down the stretch and the team that did, VCU, got the win tonight.

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