Down by as many as 16 points to the Va. Commonwealth Rams, the Drexel Dragons, winners of 19 straight coming into the game, made a furious comeback in the second half, fueled by some inspired play by freshman Damion Lee. After being hounded relentlessly in the first half by VCU's "havoc" defense, Drexel and Lee got their confidence back and brought the game to within one point in the final minute, but it wasn't enough. The Rams finally started making their free throws, and they held on to win, 59-56, clinching the Colonial Athletic Association championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Here's the chaotic final sequence:
The key cog for the Rams all night was Darius Theus. He was the ultimate catalyst for head coach Shaka Smart's terrifying defense, and he finished with 16 points, five assists and five steals on the night. The Rams overcame a so-so performance from Bradford Burgess, the lone returning starter from last year's Final Four team. He was 2-9 from the floor for just six points, but was key on defense in stymying Drexel's Samme Givens, who had just three points.
The man who led Drexel's second-half comeback was Lee, however, especially in the final 10 minutes. He finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and you can see how important he was in this little montage:
Ultimately, it was turnovers that did in the Dragons. They had 17 in the game, 12 in the first half, and struggled with VCU's pressure all night long. The Rams had a ridiculous 10 steals as a team. VCU receives the conference's automatic bid, but it's hard to imagine the Dragons being left out of the tournament. They should be receiving an at-large bid.