Old Dominion Downs William & Mary For CAA Title, NCAA Tournament Automatic Bid

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CAA Championship: Old Dominion Is Off The Bubble Thanks To Win Over William & Mary

Old Dominion doesn't need to worry about the bubble any longer. The Monarchs defeated William & Mary, 60-53, to grab the CAA Tournament crown on Monday night in Richmond, punching a well-earned ticket to the NCAA Tournament. And from Gainesville to Seattle, teams hoping to secure one of the final at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament are celebrating their victory. 

Like so many of the games at this year's CAA Tournament, this contest was defined by runs. Hot shooting allowed the Monarchs to jump out to a 27-14 lead with under eight minutes left in the first half. However, the field goal percentages evened out as the opening period went on, so the Tribe were able to cut the lead to 31-24 by the break.

Things looked to be over early in the second, as the Monarchs hit their first four field goals of the period to build a 15-point advantage with 15:56 left in the half. For the next five minutes, Old Dominion only managed two Gerald Lee free throws, but the Tribe couldn't capitalize, as they could only cut the deficit to eight.

With a minute left, William & Mary got within five for the second time in the half, thanks to a Danny Sumner three. However, the Tribe missed five three-point attempts in the dying moments. In that same time, the Monarchs struggled to ice the game from the foul line, only converting four of eight free throws. Two from Frank Hassell with 29 seconds left and one from Lee with seven seconds remaining were enough in the end.

Lee claimed Tournament Most Valuable Player honors despite only managing nine points and four rebounds in the final. Darius James led the Monarchs with 12 points, as he went three-for-five from beyond the arc, starting the scoring in each half with a triple. Kent Bazemore added 10, while Ben Finney just missed a double-double, as he scored nine and grabbed eight boards.

The Tribe's Sumner led all scorers with 19, including two monstrous dunks in the middle of the second half and five threes. David Schneider, on the other hand, had an off night, as he was just two-for-11 from downtown. His problems reflected the team's issues, as William & Mary made only nine of 31 threes on the night.

The Monarchs project as a 10 to 12 seed in the NCAAs, where they will be a handful for their opponent, thanks to the presence of Gerald Lee. William & Mary is likely to head to the NIT, as early season wins at Wake Forest and Maryland were offset by losses to Iona, James Madison, UNC Wilmington and Towson.

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CAA Tournament Championship Game Preview: W&M Looks To Steal Tourney Bid

Preview via Sports Network. After the game, we’ll have post-game analysis right here from Chris Dobbertean, who is in Richmond, VA for the contest:

GAME NOTES: The William & Mary Tribe are one win away from claiming their first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title, but for that to happen they will have to get past the Old Dominion Monarchs this evening at the Richmond Coliseum.

The Tribe advanced to their second CAA title game in three years with a thrilling, 47-45 victory over Northeastern on Sunday. William & Mary opened the tournament with a first-round bye and then defeated James Madison, 70-65, in quarterfinal action.

As for the Monarchs, they captured the regular-season title and the top seed with an impressive 15-3 mark in CAA action. Old Dominion also received a first-round bye before taking care of business against Towson, 86-56, in the quarterfinals. ODU had a tough time Sunday against VCU, but the Monarchs were able to post a 73-69 overtime victory over the Rams, giving themselves a shot at a fifth CAA Tournament crown and first since 2005.

The Monarchs defeated William & Mary twice this season and overall Old Dominion has dominated the Tribe, winning 62 of the 77 all-time meetings.

It was not a buzzer-beating shot, but it definitely was a highlight basket for David Schneider, as the guard drilled a three-point basket with 37 seconds left in the second half to give the Tribe their eventual, 47-45 victory over the Northeastern Huskies in semifinal play of the CAA Tournament. Oddly enough, it was the only basket made by Schneider, who finished the game 1-of-9 from the field. Not one player finished in double figures for William & Mary, as the team shot just 37.0 percent from the floor. Danny Sumner led the way with eight points, while Marcus Kitts tallied seven, to go along with nine rebounds. Schneider only connected on one basket in the win, but the guard has been the most consistent player throughout the season for William & Mary and comes into this title game averaging 15.6 ppg, to go along with 6.0 rpg. Quinn McDowell is contributing 14.1 ppg on the season, while Sumner is netting 10.2 ppg.

The Monarchs showed that they are a fighting team, as Old Dominion clawed its way back from a 12-point deficit against VCU on Sunday. Old Dominion never gave up against the Rams and eventually forced the game into overtime where the Monarchs proceeded to go flawless from the floor, connecting on all four of their field goal attempts and both of their free throws. Gerald Lee tied a career-high with 26 points, while Ben Finney and Marsharee Neely posted 11 points apiece. Old Dominion shot a respectable 49.2 percent from the floor, and dominated play on the glass by outrebounding VCU by a 44-27 margin. Lee has been the only consistent scoring threat on the season for ODU, as the guard is netting 14.8 ppg, to go along with 5.0 rpg. However, what has made the Monarchs so dangerous has been their play defensively, as Old Dominion has held the opposition to just 57.3 ppg.

The Tribe have done well by making it to this point of the tournament, but everything is stacked against them in this matchup. Old Dominion is stronger defensively, and has dominated William & Mary throughout the all-time series. Barring any unforeseen problems, the Monarchs should have no problems winning their fifth CAA title.

GAME NOTES: The William & Mary Tribe are one win away from claiming their first-ever Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title, but for that to happen they will have to get past the Old Dominion Monarchs this evening at the Richmond Coliseum.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Richmond Coliseum (11,200) — Richmond, Virginia. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: William & Mary 10-3, ODU 15-0. Away Record: William & Mary 10-6, ODU 8-6. Neutral Record: William & Mary 2-0, ODU 2-2. Conference Record: William & Mary 12-6, ODU 15-3. Series Record: Old Dominion leads, 62-15.

Monday, March 8th, 7:00 p.m. (et)

Old Dominion 62, William & Mary 50

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Semifinal No. 2: William & Mary Holds Off Northeastern, 47-45

The first CAA Tournament semifinal, featuring top-seeded Old Dominion and fifth-seeded VCU, was an instant classic. The second game, No. 3 William & Mary's 47-45 victory over second-seeded Northeastern was just as exciting, but not for the same reasons.

The fans who remained after game one saw William & Mary build a 31-17 halftime lead. The Tribe made four of their first eight from outside, before cooling off, as they ended the half five for 13 from beyond the arc. That was mostly due to David Schneider missing all four of his three-point attempts. 

Northeastern's struggles against the Tribe's defensive sets meant they only shot 24 percent for the half, with Matt Janning only scoring four in the period, going one-for-six from the field and missing all four of his three attempts. Nkem Ojougboh couldn't do much inside either, as he went 0-for-three from the floor in the first 20 minutes.

Schneider didn't score for William & Mary until he nailed a three with 35.9 left to put the Tribe up for good. Northeastern missed seven opportunities to tie or win it in the final half minute. That meant the Huskies, who outscored the Tribe 28-16 in a second half they dominated, fell one basket short. 

Danny Sumner was the leading scorer for William & Mary on the night. He managed eight points, while Marcus Kitts scored seven and grabbed nine boards. Manny Adako was the leading scorer on the night, as he had 14 and seven rebounds. Janning managed 12 on a miserable shooting night. The senior was four-for-14 from the field and missed five threes. The Huskies as a team were only two of 13 from beyond the arc, while the Tribe shot early and often from downtown. They went seven-for-24 from outside.

William & Mary next faces top-seeded Old Dominion in Monday night's championship game (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). The winner goes dancing, though the Monarchs have a decent shot at an at-large bid if they fall.

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Semifinal No. 1: Old Dominion Wins Instant Classic Over VCU, 73-69 In OT

If you were unaware that it's both the month of March and one week from Selection Sunday, Sunday's first CAA Tournament semifinal between top-seeded Old Dominion and their archrival, fifth-seeded VCU, provided all the reminder anyone would ever need.

In front of a VCU-friendly near-capacity crowd at Richmond Coliseum, the regular season champions moved on to the final with a 73-69 overtime victory.

In its early moments, this game didn't look like it was going to be quite so great. Even though there was intense end-to-end action early, both teams had trouble finishing. That changed by the time halftime rolled around, when Old Dominion held a 32-29 lead thanks to 12 points from star forward Gerald Lee, who made four of his six shots from the field in the period.

The Monarchs were 12 points down with 12 minutes in the second half. Lee and company, not known for their ability to mount a comeback, did just that to force an extra session.

It looked like Old Dominion would have a shot to win it at the end of the second, as VCU's Bradford Burgess stepped on the end line after rebounding a miss by the Monarchs' Darius James. After Old Dominion took back possession, Lee made the mistake of handling the ball near the perimeter and was called for a travel when attempting to drive to the net. 

Given another chance, the Rams couldn't even get a shot off before the end of regulation.

While both teams were red hot over the final 20 minutes of regulation, as VCU went 13 of 24 from the field and ODU shot 50 percent, the Monarchs were simply perfect in the extra session. They went four-for-four from the field, one-for-one from three and two-from-two from the charity stripe. The two free throws were the ones Lee hit with seven-tenths of a second left on the clock to grow the ODU lead to four, icing the victory.

Lee was the game's leading scorer, as he managed 26 points, after shooting 10 of 13 from the floor. Ben Finney and Marsharee Neely had 11 apiece and Kent Bazemore scored nine, with six of those coming on three spectacular dunks.

The guards led the way for VCU on this afternoon. Ed Nixon was the Rams' top scorer with 14, while Joey Rodriguez and Bradford Burgess had 13 each. Their star forward, Larry Sanders, only managed six points and six rebounds. Old Dominion ended up topping VCU on the boards, 44 to 27.

The Monarchs now move on to Monday night's championship game (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) where they will take on the winner of this evening's second semifinal between second-seeded Northeastern and No. 3 William & Mary.

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Quarterfinal No. 4: William & Mary Rallies Against James Madison, 70-65

The CAA Tournament semifinals are now set for Sunday, as third-seeded William & Mary defeated No. 11 James Madison, 70-65, Saturday night in Richmond. 

It truly was a game of two halves. Early on, it looked like both teams would put on an offensive show, as the Tribe and Dukes opened the game by putting on a shooting clinic for the first four minutes. James Madison stayed hot, hitting 54.2 percent of their shots in the opening period, while William & Mary only managed to hit 32 percent. Considering the Tribe is known as a streaky three-point shooting team, the fact they only managed 22 percent from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes meant they found themselves down nine at the break.

Unfortunately for the Dukes, the Tribe hit a hot streak, capped by a stunning three by David Schneider to beat the shot clock buzzer with 3:26 left in the game. That put William & Mary up four. 

By the time the night was over, the Tribe had shot 36 threes, connecting on 11. The Dukes shot over 52 percent from the floor, but only hit five triples on the evening. That was the difference in the ball game. 

Schneider scored 23 for William & Mary, hitting six of his nine three-point attempts, while Danny Sumner scored 22. James Madison's Denzel Bowles scored 17. He was seven of eight from the field.

The Tribe will meet second-seeded Northeastern in the semifinals. William & Mary won the only meeting between the two this season, 53-52, in Williamsburg.

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Quarterfinal #3: Northeastern Needs Two OTs To Defeat Hofstra, 74-71

Northeastern should have expected a game like this, considering they fell to Hofstra by a 73-62 score at home on February 23, but the Huskies survived another challenge from the Pride to advance to Sunday's semifinal round at the CAA Tournament. After 10 extra minutes, but Northeastern prevailed, 74-71.

In terms of energy level, the game and the building were mirror images for much of the night. Early on the building was quiet and both teams were sluggish and not shooting well from the field. (The Huskies shot 33.3 percent in the first half and the Pride made only 29.6 percent of their attempts in that time.) But both turned it on as the crowd started to file in for the second all-Virginia quarterfinal of the day, pitting William & Mary against James Madison.

By the time overtime began, both teams heated up, with each shooting in the neighborhood of 57 to 58 percent from the floor. But the attrition of personal fouls caught up to Hofstra, as their three of their biggest shooting threats, Charles Jenkins, Chaz Williams and Cornelius Vines, all fouled out.

Vines hit a three with 14 seconds left in the first overtime to force the second. He finished with 11 on the night, as did Greg Washington, who had a potential tying three of his own blocked with 28 seconds left in the second overtime. 

The two teams' stars didn't disappoint, particularly in the second. Jenkins had 24 for the Pride, which could have been more had he not fouled out. Northeastern's Matt Janning led all scorers with 26, including the trey that broke a 67-all tie with 45 seconds left in overtime number two. After Manny Adako blocked Washington's attempt to answer at the other end of the court, it was pretty much over.

The Huskies move on to Sunday's semifinals where they will face the William & Mary-James Madison winner.

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Quarterfinal No. 2: VCU Pulls Away From George Mason Late, 75-60

Saturday's second CAA quarterfinal between fourth-seeded George Mason and fifth-seeded VCU had all of the appearances of an instant classic, as two closely matched teams were playing for their postseason lives in an electric atmosphere that was a true example of why March is so unique. 

VCU's Brandon Rozzell made sure that wasn't the case, however. He hit a trio of threes in a less than two minute span, with the first coming when the score was deadlocked 53, to push the Rams past fourth-seeded George Mason in Saturday afternoon's second CAA quarterfinal. The final score: VCU 75, George Mason 60.

The Patriots led by three at halftime, and it looked like this one was going to go right down to the wire. However, George Mason cooled off late, only managing two field goals in the final 5:31, and one of those was a Sherrod Wright dunk in garbage time.

VCU took advantage, outscoring George Mason 22 to seven over the final six and a half minutes.

Larry Sanders had another monster game for the Rams, scoring 17 and grabbing 12 rebounds. Rodriguez also had 17, while dishing out five assists.  Rozzell ended up with 12, as he went four-for-eight from beyond the arc.

Ryan Pearson's 10-for-12, 22 point performance went for naught, as George Mason misses the semifinals for the first time since 2005. 

Sunday's semifinal between VCU and top-seeded Old Dominion is a rematch of the same round from last season. In 2009, the team's positions were reversed and the Rams were the regular season champs and prohibitive favorites. They prevailed on their way to the tournament championship and an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, Old Dominion and VCU met twice, with each winning on their own floor. The rubber match is Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

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Quarterfinal No. 1: Old Dominion Crushes Towson, 86-56

Saturday's first quarterfinal at the CAA Tournament was never in much doubt.

Regular season champion Old Dominion improved to 24-8 on the season with an emphatic 86-56 victory over eighth-seeded Towson. The Monarchs will next face the winner of the 4/5 quarterfinal between George Mason and VCU in Sunday's first semifinal.

Gerald Lee led the four Monarchs who reached double figures on the afternoon with 17, while Keyon Carter scored 16. Frank Hassell ended up with a double-double, scoring 11 and grabbing 11 boards. The Tigers' Josh Thornton led all scorers with 18 points despite a cold five for 18 performance from the field. 

Towson's inability to make shots, especially from the perimeter, did them in. The Tigers only shot 32 percent from the field for the game, making only four of 21 from beyond the arc (19 percent).

Given the Monarchs' size advantage, that wasn't quite what the Tigers needed. Towson simply had no answer for Old Dominion's inside game. The Monarchs scored 44 points in the paint, compared 20 for the Tigers. ODU also more than doubled up Towson on the boards, grabbing 60, compared to the Tigers' 26, which meant the top seed ended up with plenty of second chance points, 16, but surprisingly few transition baskets. Old Dominion scored 14 points off 12 Towson turnovers, but none of those came on fast breaks.

The Monarchs asserted their dominance late in the first half. Towson was within four with 9:31 to go, but ODU went on a 20-6 run over the second half of the period to take a 39-21 lead going into the break. 

The ease of the win means Old Dominion head coach Blaine Taylor got to use his regulars sparingly. Lee and Hassell racked up their numbers in only 20 minutes, while Darius James (5 points) led all Monarchs by playing for 26 minutes on the afternoon.

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Favorites Dominate Opening Round In Richmond; Only JMU Manages Upset

On Friday. the CAA Tournament began in Richmond with the fifth through 12th seeds battling for places in Saturday's quarterfinals. Three of the four higher seeds were successful.

The afternoon session featured two mismatches decided by 17 points each.

No. 8 Towson blasted ninth-seeded UNC Wilmington, 91-74, thanks to 20 points from RaShawn Polk and 18 from Troy Franklin. The Tigers will take on the top seed Old Dominion Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

Fifth-seeded VCU, the defending champion, grabbed a relatively easy win over 12th seed Delaware, 66-49. Larry Sanders scored 15 for the Rams, while grabbing 13 boards. VCU, playing not far from their campus, faces the four seed, George Mason, Saturday at around 2:30 p.m. ET.

The evening session was a bit more exciting.

Seventh-seeded Hofstra survived a scare from 10th-seeded Georgia State, prevailing 68-67. Charles Jenkins, the Pride's star, scored 24, and they needed every single one of those points to advance to Saturday's quarterfinal against the two seed Northeastern (6 p.m. ET). Keep in mind that the Pride just defeated the Huskies at Matthews Arena on February 23.

The nightcap saw the only upset of the round, as 11th-seeded James Madison knocked off Drexel, the six seed, 77-65. The Dukes will face third-seeded William & Mary in tomorrow's final game (8:30 p.m. ET).

I will be on site for the remainder of the tournament, so expect postgame updates all the way through the final on Monday night. You can also follow along via my Twitter account @BracketDobber.

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CAA Tournament: A Loaded Field Attempts To Chase Down Old Dominion

What: The Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament

At Stake: An automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament

Where: Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia

When: The tournament begins with four Opening Round games on Friday, March 5 at 12 p.m. ET and ends Monday, March 8, when the two survivors will play for a chance to dance.

The Favorite: Old Dominion. The Monarchs have a chance at grabbing an at-large, thanks to a win at Georgetown in December, but they'd honestly be in better shape had they done a bit better a few weeks earlier, as losses to Missouri and Mississippi State in the South Padre Island Invitational and the  setback at Richmond that followed can be seen as missed opportunities. ODU's three conference losses all came on the road, as they lost at two seed Northeastern and, more worryingly, against their two most likely quarterfinal opponents, George Mason and VCU. Blaine Taylor's squad is a stout defensive unit with good size. 6-10 Gerald Lee and 6-8 Frank Hassell and are the main offensive threats inside, while another 6-8 junior, Keyon Carter, is just as effective knocking down threes.

Other contenders: Don't expect the Monarchs to have an easy road to the title, as for the first time ever, seven CAA members won 10 conference games. Third-seeded William & Mary gained the most notoriety early in the season, as they won at both Maryland and Wake Forest. However, later losses to Iona, James Madison, UNC Wilmington and Towson really damaged their at-large hopes.

On the other hand, second seeded Northeastern finished strongly, as they dug themselves out of a 2-7 mark hole that included losses to St. Mary's, Rhode Island and Boston College. A home BracketBuster loss to Louisiana Tech ended the Huskies' slim at-large hopes. Northeastern does feature one of the CAA's biggest stars, senior swingman Matt Janning, who's looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament before graduating.

Fourth seeded George Mason has struggled of late, as they've dropped six of their last eight, with four of the losses coming by four points or less. The young Patriots' luck (Jim Larranaga regularly plays four freshmen and three sophomores) will have to improve if they are to make the NCAAs for the third time in five years.

Fifth-seeded VCU, the defending champion, has all the talent -- 6-11 junior forward Larry Sanders, junior point guard Joey Rodriguez, sharpshooters Bradford Burgess, Ed Nixon and Brandon Rozzell -- to make a run at another crown not far from campus, but playing the extra game may impact them negatively.

The Darkhorse: Seventh-seeded Hofstra (18-13, 10-8 CAA) is the hottest team in the league. The Pride won six straight and nine of their last 10 to close the season. Their only loss in that span was a 20-point home defeat to Northeastern, but the Pride did beat the Huskies at Matthews Arena on February 23.

Schedule

Friday's Opening Round
Game 1: No. 8 Towson (10-20, 6-12 CAA) defeated No. 9 UNC Wilmington (9-21, 5-13 CAA), 91-74
Game 2: No. 5 VCU (21-8, 11-7 CAA) defeated No. 12 Delaware (7-24, 3-15 CAA)66-49
Game 3: No. 7 Hofstra (19-13, 10-8 CAA) defeated  No. 10 Georgia State (12-20, 5-13 CAA), 68-67
Game 4: No. 11 James Madison (13-19, 4-14 CAA) defeated No. 6 Drexel (16-16, 11-7 CAA), 77-65

Saturday's Quarterfinals
Game 5: No. 1 Old Dominion (24-8, 15-3 CAA) defeated No. 8 Towson, 86-56
Game 6: No. 5 VCU defeated No. 4 George Mason (17-13, 12-6 CAA), 75-60
Game 7: No. 2 Northeastern (19-11, 14-4 CAA) defeated No. 7 Hofstra, 74-71
Game 8: No. 3 William & Mary (20-9, 12-6 CAA) defeated No. 11 James Madison, 70-65

Sunday's Semifinals (both games on CSN New England/Comcast Network/CSS/Full Court)
Game 9: No. 1 Old Dominion defeated No. 5 VCU, 73-69 (OT)
Game 10: No. 2 Northeastern vs. No. 3 William & Mary, 5:30 p.m. ET

Monday's Final (ESPN)
Game 11: No. 1 Old Dominion vs. TBD, 7 p.m. ET

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