Loss to Dayton Flyers damages VCU’s NCAA tournament hopes

Rams have lost three straight games for first time since 2015

The Dayton Flyers dealt a likely fatal blow to Virginia Commonwealth's chances of earning an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament with a 66-61 victory Tuesday at the Siegel Center.

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A team that finished 16-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season and was picked to finish first this season and slipped into a tie for sixth place with Davidson and Saint Louis. VCU (17-9, 7-6) has lost three straight games for the first time since December 2015.

“Great college game,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “They made enough plays to get out of here with a win, and they’re a very good team, very disciplined team and well coached. I thought our guys did some great things today, especially after the last two games. We stuck to the plan. We just had some wide-open shots we didn’t make, and we needed to get a couple stops there without fouling, and we didn’t do that. That was the difference in the game.”

VCU has played in the NCAA tournament eight times in the last nine seasons. In Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket update on ESPN, before Tuesday’s game, VCU was listed among the first four teams out of the tournament.

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VCU played without senior guard Marcus Evans for the second straight game. He’s their third-leading scorer (10.9 points per game) and leads the team with 3.0 assists per game. He has been sidelined with a knee injury.

"He was going to try to give it a go today,” Rhoades said. “But in warm-ups, he said he felt really, really weak and sore."

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Freshman Nah’Shon Hylan led the Rams with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Sophomore Vince Williams, of Toledo, scored 13.

“I thought our young guys were great today,” Rhoades said. “In that environment, our young guys stepped up and gave us great energy, but you’ve got to finish against a really good team. You can’t put them on the line late in the game. You’ve got to get stops. We have to be a little more disciplined. The last couple days, we were down in the valley. I told them the only way you get out of it is fight, stick together. It was a good step. Now we’ve got to grow from today. Still not good enough because we didn’t win.”

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