Because of their unexpected run last season, the Rams were expected to give the Shockers trouble. Even President Barack Obama picked them to advance.
Ragland finished with 15 points after getting off to a slow start.
“They obviously pressured the ball and the first half we didn’t handle it as well as we should have,” Ragland said. “The second half we handled it pretty well and had a chance to win the game.”
Wichita State was ranked No. 18 in the final The Associated Press poll. The Shockers won the regular-season title in the Missouri Valley Conference, but lost to Illinois State in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
It was the first NCAA tournament appearance for Wichita State since 2006, when it advanced to the regional semifinals.
There were lots of missed shots on both sides early, but Rob Brandenberg hit a 3-pointer to put VCU in front 17-13 midway through the first half.
Wichita State put together an 11-0 run to make it 24-21 with 5:27 left. Carl Hall capped the surge with a layup.
Treveon Graham broke the VCU scoring drought with a jumper and Burgess added a 3-pointer, sparking a 13-1 run that lifted the Rams to a 34-25 lead at the break.
Burgess scored 13 points during a dominating first half, except for an errant 3-pointer that fell far short of the basket.
Virginia Commonwealth stretched the lead to 41-29 after Brandenberg’s layup. His jumper a short time later gave the Rams a 46-33 lead, but Ben Smith had a layup before David Kyles scored five quick points to trimVCU’s lead to 46-40.
“They came at us with kind of a dose of our own medicine and pressed us,” Smart said. “I thought it gave us troubles for part of the second half but we hung in there and made all the big plays in the end.”