by Matt Lincoln
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VCU played the first half of the CAA Championship Game like the team that lost 5 of their last 7 regular season games. But they played the second half like the team that had knocked off the top team in the conference the day before. But it was too little, too late.
Thanks to a 26-9 second half run, VCU almost erased an 18 point lead, only to fall 70-65 to Old Dominion Monday night at the Richmond Coliseum.
Frank Hassell scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds as ODU defended its CAA tournament title. Kent Bazemore added 14 points as the Monarchs (27-6) won their ninth straight - and the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth, likely depriving the CAA of its first three-team contingent in the field of 68.
Regular season champion George Mason is expected to receive an at-large invitation, while the Rams will now have to wait for a call from the NIT.
The Rams (23-11) trailed by 18 in the second half, but got within 55-54 with 4:26 left before the Monarchs scored on consecutive possessions, rebuilding the lead to five, and hung on.
Bradford Burgess led VCU with 19 points and Jamie Skeen had 18.