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But the shots rimming out, the big 3-pointer, Mack and rebounding woes were too much to overcome. Butler, headed to its second title game in as many years, outrebounded VCU, 48-32. That led to 19 second-chance points. VCU collected only six.

Rebounding has dogged VCU all season. The problem was camouflaged in the previous two games — wins over Florida State and Kansas — when those teams pulled down 25 more rebounds than VCU.

Sure, VCU made history as the third No. 11 seed to advance to the Final Four. That was little comfort when they arrived in the locker room to boxes of fried chicken and little bottles of Tabasco sauce and cans of Coke. Rodriguez didn’t touch the food.

“I don’t think it’s hit any of us yet,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t believe it’s my last game.”

A text message interrupted him. The unforgiving rims vanished. The message was from his father, Joe. He was proud of his son.