Monarchs Reign Supreme Over CAA Tournament
March 7, 2011
RICHMOND, Va.- Frank Hassell scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Old Dominion withstood a furious second-half rally by Virginia Commonwealth on Monday night and defended its Colonial Athletic Association tournament title with a 70-65 victory. The victory was ODU's sixth overall CAA Tournament crown, two more than any other school in the league and the first back-to-back champion since UNC Wilmington did it in 2002 and 2003.
A sellout crowd of 11,200 were in attendance at the Richmond Coliseum.
Kent Bazemore added 14 points as the Monarchs (27-6) won their ninth straight and 13 of the last 14 to claim the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth.
Regular season champion George Mason is expected to receive an at-large invitation.
The Rams (23-11) trailed by 18 in the second half, but got within 55-54 with 4:26 left before the Monarchs scored on consecutive possessions, rebuilding the lead to five, and hung on.
Bradford Burgess led VCU with 19 points and Jamie Skeen had 18.
The Rams advanced to the finals after beating Drexel on a buzzer-beater and then handing top-seeded George Mason its first loss in 17 games, they came up short against their rival.
Trailing 46-28 with 16 1/2 minutes left, VCU went on a defense-led 26-9 run that had the crowd in its home city roaring at a deafening level, even after the Monarchs answered with their consecutive putbacks.
As Ben Finney stepped to the line with 15.3 seconds left and his team ahead 69-62, the smaller contingent of Monarchs fans chanted "O-D-U! O-D-U!" to celebrate the Monarchs' league-best sixth tournament title.
Old Dominion led 50-39 and had ended an 11-0 burst by VCU with consecutive baskets by Hassell, but the Rams rallied again.
Joey Rodriguez hit a 3-pointer, Skeen followed a free throw with a putback and then made a reverse layup and was fouled. The free throw pulled the Rams within 51-47. Hassell's basket pushed the lead back to 53-47, but Burgess hit a pair of free throws and then followed a miss with a tip-in, and it was 53-51 with 5 minutes left.
Chris Cooper's first field goal doubled the lead, but Burgess hit a 3-pointer from the left corner, cutting it to one before Cooper scored on a tip-in, and Bazemore followed with another. The Monarchs extended their advantage to seven in the closing minutes to win the season's third game between the state rivals.
Leading 39-26, the Monarchs opened the second half on a 7-2 run to open their largest lead at 46-28. But with their NCAA hopes fading fast, the Rams responded, sparked in part by their more urgent fullcourt defense.
Rob Brandenberg hit a jumper, Burgess followed with a putback and Skeen dunked off an inbound play. With the VCU defense getting nine consecutive stops, a 3-pointer by Brandon Rozzell and a putback by Burgess made it 46-39, capping an 11-0 spurt, and the crowd in VCU's home city grew deafening.
But a timeout seemed to settle Old Dominion, and two straight baskets by Hassell halted the Rams' momentum, rebuilt the lead to 50-39 and once again put VCU in position to have to succeed at both ends.
ODU who leads the nation in rebound margin again dominated the boards with a 38-23 rebound margin as Hassell hauled down a game high nine rebounds, followed by Bazemore and Ben Finney with six each.
ODU shot .585 (24-41) from the floor, while VCU was .397 (23-58). The Monarchs shot .636 in the first half.
ODU's seniors Ben Finney, Frank Hassell, Darius James and Keyon Carter have now won a school record 97 games during their careers which include beating VCU in the city of Richmond four times, twice in the Siegel Center and twice in the CAA Tournament home - The Richmond Coliseum.
Frank Hassell was named the Tournament MVP and was joined on the All Tournament squad by teammate Kent Bazemore along with Bradford Burgess of VCU, Charles Jenkins of Hofstra, Cam Long of Mason and Jamie Skeen of VCU.
Bazemore led ODU with six assists and also game up with three steals. Junior Trian Iliadis added 10 points off the bench and three steals as well. For Head coach Blaine Taylor, ODU's winningest men's basketball coach with 215 in 10 years gets his third CAA title and will be taking ODU to its fourth NCAA Tournament during his tenure.
|MONARCH NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY|
|2010||Round of 32||Defeated Notre Dame 51-50|
Lost to Baylor 76-68
|2007||Round of 64||Lost to Butler 57-46|
|2005||Round of 64||Lost to Michigan State 89-81|
|1997||Round of 64||Lost to New Mexico 59-55|
|1995||Round of 32||Defeated Villanova 89-81|
Lost to Tulsa 64-52
|1992||Round of 64||Lost to Kentucky 88-69|
|1986||Round of 32||Defeated West Virginia 72-64|
Lost to Duke 89-61
|1985||Round of 64||Lost to SMU 85-68|
|1982||Round of 48||Lost to Wake Froest 74-57|
|1980||Round of 48||Lost to UCLA 87-74|