RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – Senior guard Eric Maynor (Raeford, N.C.) led all scorers with 25 points and added eight assists, and sophomore forward Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) set a tournament game record with 20 rebounds and tied another with seven blocks as top-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University defeated No. 2 George Mason University 71-50 in the Championship Game of the 2009 Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in front of a sellout crowd of 11,200 at the Richmond Coliseum.
The Rams (24-9) won their second CAA title in the past three seasons and earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Patriots dropped to 22-10.
Maynor, named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, hit nine of 19 shots from the floor, two from behind the arc, and 5 of 6 from the free throw line to account for his 25. Sanders added 18 points, including 12 in the second half. Sanders also set a record with 40 rebounds in the entire tournament, passing David Robinson’s total of 39 in 1986. The single-game rebounding record of 19 had been held by Robinson, Kenny Sanders (twice), Robinson and Harding Nana. Sanders tied Robinson for the block record.
VCU jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first four minutes by hitting four of its first five shots, while Mason missed seven of its first eight attempts. The Patriots pulled to within two at 9-7 before a 21-10 Ram run pushed the lead to 30-17 with just under three minutes remaining in the half. Maynor had 14 points for VCU during the run. Freshman forward Ryan Pearson (Far Rockaway, N.Y.) hit a five-footer with 52 seconds left to make it 30-19 at the half. VCU shot 52% (13-25) from the floor in the first half, including 4-11 from behind the arc. The Patriots shot 29% (8-27) from the floor. Maynor finished the half with 14 points and four assists, while Sanders had six points and 12 boards. Senior guard Dre Smith (Houston, Texas) had five points in the first 20 minutes for Mason.
The Rams started the second half on a 13-1 run to take a 43-20 lead with 14:17 left in the contest. Mason didn’t hit its first field goal of the second half until seven minutes in, going 0-7 from the floor and committing six turnovers. After trailing 47-25, Mason used a 7-0 run to make it 47-32 with 8:30 left. VCU went scoreless for 3:30 before Maynor hit a floater and four free throws to give the Rams a 53-37 advantage with six minutes left. Smith hit a pair of three-pointers to pull Mason to within 12 at 56-44 with 5:15 left before a 9-0 run by the Rams pushed the lead to 21 at 65-44 with 3:45 remaining before recording the 71-50 victory.
VCU shot 49% from the floor (26-53) and held Mason to 30% shooting (18-59).
Smith paced the Patriots with 23 points. He was 8-14 from the floor and 5-10 from behind the arc.
CAA All-Tournament Team: Junior Hairston, Towson; Gerald Lee, Old Dominion; Cam Long, George Mason; Eric Maynor, VCU; Larry Sanders, VCU; Dre Smith, George Mason
Most Outstanding Player: Eric Maynor, VCU