RICHMOND, Va. – Prior to Wednesday's game, VCU Basketball Assistant Coach Will Wade was searching for the school's single-game record for three-pointers made in a game. He was convinced that junior Troy Daniels had a chance to break it against Georgia State because of the way he had been shooting it in practice.
It wouldn't have broken the record, but Daniels' sixth three-pointer of the game would have given the Rams a dramatic comeback victory over the red-hot Panthers, but his last-second attempt fell short, thus snapping VCU's eight-game winning streak in a 55-53 loss.
"I give a lot of credit to Coach Hunter and Georgia State. They played hard and battled us on every possession," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "I think we learned a valuable lesson tonight, but obviously it's a tough pill to swallow."
Despite shooting just 27.1% from the field (16-59), the Rams found themselves with the ball and a chance to either tie or win the game as time was winding down. Georgia State's Devonta White missed two free-throws with 24.2 seconds remaining and VCU drew up a play for Daniels, but his three-point attempt came up just short and after sophomore Juvonte Reddic corralled the offensive rebound, the Rams were unable to get another shot attempt off.
"There's going to a couple games a year that you just don't shoot it well. However, when you shoot 27 percent, you need to do a lot of other things right to win and we didn't do quite enough of those other things tonight to come out with a victory," Smart added.
The loss came on a night where VCU celebrated a 10th consecutive sellout at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center. The sellout extended the Rams' school record and broke UNCW's CAA record of nine straight, set during the 2002 campaign.
"This is a tremendous program and an unbelievable environment," Georgia State Head Coach Ron Hunter said. "I wish I could take this and send it back to Georgia State with us because this is what it's all about. This is a major league environment. What a great place for college basketball."
The Panthers showed they were ready to play from the start jumping out to a 12-5 cushion after James Vincent connected on a jumper with 11:13 remaining in the first half.
However, the Rams responded and looked primed to take over the game when they forced the Panthers into a couple quick turnovers and scored eight straight points, capped off by a tip-in by sophomore D.J. Haley that gave VCU a 14-13 lead with 7:51 left in the stanza.
That was the last and only time that the Rams would hold the lead as the Panthers responded thanks to 12 first-half points from Jihad Ali, who helped GSU head to the intermission with a 28-25 advantage.
After the break, it was much of the same with the Panthers controlling the tempo and pushing their lead to as many as nine before the Rams made a last minute rally.
With 2:06 remaining, VCU found themselves down nine, 53-44, when Daniels started his onslaught with a three-pointer off an assists from his classmate, Darius Theus.
A steal led to another Daniels three-pointer that cut the lead to three, but Josh Micheaux threw up a jumper that dropped and pushed the lead back to five, 55-50, with just under a minute to play. Senior Bradford Burgess would connect on his only field-goal of the game, a three-pointer, with 36 seconds remaining to bring the Rams within two and set up the final sequence of events.
"Every time I shoot it I think it's going in," Daniels said. "We got ourselves into the position that we wanted and got the look we wanted, it just didn't fall for us."
Defensively, the Rams registered double-digit steals for the 10th time this year and currently rank second in the nation with 10.4 steals per game.
VCU will now have a few days off before heading to Philadelphia for a Sunday night showdown with Drexel. Game time on Comcast SportsNet is set for 8 p.m.