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Old Dominion captures CAA championship

Mar 8, 2011 - 3:10 AM Richmond, VA (Sports Network) - Frank Hassell scored 22 points, and Old Dominion needed every one of them after nearly squandering an 18-point second- half lead, as the Monarchs won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament with a 70-65 victory over Virginia Commonwealth.

And with the Monarchs' victory, teams on the bubble breathed a sigh of relief.

Old Dominion (27-6), already seen by many as an NCAA Tournament team, grabbed a 44-26 lead on the strength of a large rebounding edge, then saw VCU drain three after three and slice the deficit all of the way to one at 55-54.

On consecutive possessions the Monarchs relied on their strength, rebounding missed shots and putting them back home for a 59-54 lead. Jamie Skeen's layup got the deficit back to three, but the Rams never got closer.

Old Dominion will be making its seventh straight postseason appearance, including its fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament during that span.

Bradford Burgess scored 19 points and Skeen donated 18 for the Rams (23-11), who now must sit and see if they sneak into the 68-team field as an at-large bid.

Old Dominion took its first double-digit edge of the night, 21-11, on the heels of seven consecutive points capped by Keyon Carter's emphatic slam. Virginia Commonwealth got back within five, but the Monarchs continued to attack the rim and the backboards. Hassell's two free throws, a second chance coming off another offensive board, made the score 37-24, and the Monarchs held that margin at the half, 39-26.

The first five points of the second half went to the Monarchs, who widened their lead to 44-26. Another two misfires and two turnovers on their first four trips, the Rams finally scored nearly three minutes in on two Skeen free throws.

At the nowhere the floodgates opened for the upstart Rams as making shots became contagious. Brandon Rozzell drained a three and Burgess tipped in Rozzell's miss from in close for a 46-39 lead, capping a 13-2 stretch that saw the Monarchs commit five turnovers in a six-possession span.

Back-to-back buckets by Hassell restored some order for a 50-39 lead, but that small span didn't thwart the Rams' budding momentum. Skeen's three-point play with just over seven minutes to go sliced the deficit to four points, 51-47, and Burgess' tip-in with just under the five-minute mark made the score 53-51. He stepped outside for a trey less than a minute later, drawing the Rams within one.

However, the Monarchs went back to their well, as Darius James missed a jumper, Chris Cooper missed the first tip attempt but converted on the second then Bazemore cleaned up a James' miss with another tip for a five-point margin.

Skeen made a layup with just over 2 1/2 minutes to go, but after Cooper made 1-of-2 free throws, Joe Rodriguez, who struggled shooting on the night, missed a three and Bazemore's bucket a few moments later opened a 62-56 lead. Again, Rodriguez missed on the other end, and the Rams appeared to tire after using so much vigor to fight their way back.

Game Notes

Hassell also grabbed nine rebounds, as Old Dominion held a 38-23 edge on the glass...Rodriguez finished with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting to go along with seven assists...Bazemore totaled 14 points and Trian Iliadis added 10 points for the Monarchs...Old Dominion rebounded 42 percent of its misses on the season...The Monarchs made 58.5 percent of their shots compared to 39.7 for the Rams, who stayed in the game by draining twice as many three-pointers (10) as ODU.