Monarchs Crowned First Tournament Champs

March 31, 2009
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 31, 2009

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PEORIA, Ill. (AP)-- Frank Hassell, playing with a stress fracture in his right leg, had 18 points and a career high 15 rebounds to lead Old Dominion to a 66-62 win over Bradley for the title of the inaugural tournament on Tuesday night in front of 8,118 at Carver Arena. ODU finished the season 8-6 on the road.

Marsharee Neely added 16 points for Old Dominion (25-10), of the Colonial Athletic Association, which held off a late surge by Bradley (21-15). Gerald Lee had 13 points.

The Monarchs were ahead 48-37 midway through the second half when Bradley, of the Missouri Valley, fought back to 57-55 on Sam Singh's jumper with 1:25 left. But the Braves couldn't get closer.

"I feel kind of bad for Bradley. They played a great game," said Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor. "But we won it, and we ain't giving it back."

Old Dominion trailed by nine points in the first half before Hassell's eight points and 10 rebounds helped spark a comeback. The teams were tied at 28 at halftime.

"A lot of teams would have taken a knockout punch, the way we fell behind early on," Taylor said. "They had a great crowd here tonight and, boy, did they come ready to play. But I'm proud of this young bunch and how they played under pressure."

Chris Roberts led Bradley with 15 points. Sam Maniscalco had 12 points and Theron Wilson added 11 for the Braves.

Bradley coach Jim Les said he knew his young team was in for a tough game against a bigger, stronger opponent. Old Dominion outrebounded Bradley 42-35, with several key offensive rebounds late in the game.

"We respected who they are. They turned out to be just a little bit bigger and tougher and they came up with the second-half points when they needed them," Les said. "They really grabbed some boards and had some dead-on putbacks late in the game."

Taylor said Hassell's, the championship game's most valuable player, played much of the second half of the season with the stress fracture. He played Tuesday's game with a light cast on his lower calf and ankle.

"I'm just so glad we won," Hassell said. "It's the first tournament championship I've ever won. Ever. What a great team and what a great coach." Hassell got his third straight double-double tonight, his fourth of the season, and fifth of his career. Hassell hauled down nine offensive rebounds.

Joining Hassell on the all-tournament squad were fellow teammates Marsharee Neely and Gerald Lee.

The 16 points by Marsharee Neely was his second highest of this season. He scored 20 earlier this year against UNC Wilmington. Ben Finney, who ranks in the top five of the CAA in steals came up with two more along with two blocked shots.

The Monarchs finished the season winning 14 of their last 16 games. The win was the 25th of the year and the fourth time in five years a Blaine Taylor ODU squad has won 24 or more games.

ODU's lone senior Jonathan Adams played in his 135th career game which is a new ODU mark, breaking Brian Henderson's 134 of a year ago.