The Monarchs (25-8) trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, but a late surge lifted to the regular-season champions to the CAA title game for the first time since 2005. ODU plays at 7 p.m. on Monday against the winner of second semifinal between Northeastern and William & Mary. The Rams drop to 22-9 with the loss.
Lee shot 10-of-13 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe while junior guard Ben Finney (Portsmouth, Va.) and senior guard Marsharee Neely (Greensboro, N.C.) each chipped in 11 points.
VCU had five players score in double figures, led by junior guard Ed Nixon (St. Petersburg, Fla.) with a team-high 14 points. Guard Joey Rodriguez (Oviedeo, Fla.) and forward Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) both tallied 13 points, while junior forward Jamie Skeen (Charlotte, N.C.) and junior guard Brandon Rozzell notched 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Both teams shot the ball well, with the Monarchs hitting 49% from the floor, including a perfect 4-for-4 in overtime, and the Rams shooting 44%, including 40% (8-20) from three-point range.
Down 22-19 with 5:45 left in the first half, the Monarchs went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:59 to take a 29-24 lead. ODU took a 32-29 advantage into halftime.
The Rams surged out of the locker room with 10 straight points in the first 3:18 to move ahead 39-32. VCU senior T.J. Gwynn's dunk off a Rodriguez steal gave the Rams their largest lead of the game, 52-40, with 12 minutes remaining.
Trailing 55-44 with 9:28 left, Old Dominion went on an 8-0 run capped off by a Kent Bazemore (Kelford, N.C.) layup that cut the lead to 55-52 with 5:18 remaining.
Neely tied the contest at 60-60 with 2:46 left by scoring off an offensive rebound. The game remained tied at 62-62 after jumpers by Rodriguez and Lee, setting the stage for the final seconds. ODU attempted to hold for the final shot of the game, but turned the ball over with 6.5 seconds to go. VCU was unable to get off a potential game-winning shot before the end of regulation.
A Bazemore dunk gave ODU a 68-66 lead in overtime and Ben Finney drained a 3-pointer with 1:08 to go that put the Monarchs on top, 71-66. VCU responded quickly, however, as Rozzell buried a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left that cut the margin back to two. ODU was unable to get the ball inbounds on the ensuing possession giving the Rams a chance to tie or take the lead, but Nixon was unable to connect on a runner with five seconds to go. Lee sealed the win by hitting a pair of free throws.
The Monarchs become the 16th top seed in the last 18 years to reach the CAA championship game.