RICHMOND, Va. (March 7, 2011) – Second-seeded Old Dominion held off a furious second-half rally and earned a 70-65 victory over fourth-seeded VCU to capture the 2011 Virginia 529 College Savings Plan CAA Men's Basketball Championship before a sellout crowd of 11,200 at the Richmond Coliseum.
It was the ninth straight victory for the Monarchs (27-6), who became the first team to win back-to-back CAA titles since UNC Wilmington in 2002 and 2003. ODU will be making its seventh-straight post-season appearance, including its fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last seven years.
VCU, which reached the CAA championship game for the third time in the last five years, dropped to 23-11 with the loss, but is expected to receive a post-season tournament berth.
ODU senior forward Frank Hassell was named the championship's Most Outstanding Player after finishing with team highs of 22 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Kent Bazemore contributed 11 points and a team-high six assists and joined Hassell on the all-tournament team.
Junior Bradford Burgess led the Rams with 19 points and eight rebounds and senior Jamie Skeen added 18 points and five boards. Both were honored on the all-tournament squad.
Old Dominion took control of the game early, jumping out to a 21-11 lead at the 11:04 mark behind a 14-4 run in which Hassell netted five of his 14 first-half points. Freshman Rob Brandenberg ended the Monarchs’ run with a three-pointer, which sparked an eight-point spurt for the Rams and trimmed the lead to two, 21-19, with 7:46 in the period.
ODU responded with a 14-2 run over the next four minutes, capped by a Keyon Carter three-pointer that pushed the Monarchs’ advantage to 35-21 with 3:11 left. Senior Ben Finney sliced through the Rams’ defense for a layup in the final minute to give ODU a 39-26 edge at half.
ODU took its largest lead of the game, 46-28, on a Hassell layup with 16:35 remaining, but VCU was able to rally. The Rams went on an 11-0 run over the next five minutes and closed to within 46-39 on a tip-in by Burgess with 11:52 to go.
Back-to-back buckets by Hassell pushed the ODU margin back to 50-39 with just under 10 minutes to play, but VCU took off on another 15-5 run. Burgess converted a pair of throws, had a tip-in and then drained a three-pointer that brought the Rams to within 55-54 with 4:27 remaining.
The Monarchs, who lead the nation in rebound margin, regained control by recording consecutive buckets on offensive boards by Chris Cooper and Bazemore that made it 59-54 with 3:12 left. Skeen followed with a layup for VCU with 2:43 to go that made it a one-possession game, but the Monarchs kept the Rams scoreless until the final minute and put the contest away.
The CAA championship is the sixth for Old Dominion, which is the most of any league member.
ODU shot 58.5 percent from the field, including 63.6 percent in the opening half. VCU shot just 39.7 percent, but drained 10 three-pointers. The Monarchs dominated on the boards by a 38-23 margin and outrebounded the Rams 20-6 in the opening half.
The sellout crowd allowed the CAA to set a new tournament attendance record of 46,544.
CAA ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Kent Bazemore, Old Dominion
Bradford Burgess, VCU
Frank Hassell, Old Dominion
Charles Jenkins, Hofstra
Cam Long, George Mason
Jamie Skeen, VCU
Championship Most Outstanding Player: Frank Hassell, Old Dominion