|Date of game: 3/5/2012
Recap: Drexel vs. VA Commonwealth
Richmond, VA (Sports Network) - Darius Theus had 16 points five assists, five steals and four rebounds as VCU held off Drexel to win the Colonial Athletic Association Championship with a 59-56 decision at Richmond Coliseum.
Treveon Graham added 13 points and Troy Daniels finished with 11 as the Rams (28-6) earned their 10th overall NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth in the past six seasons.
"It was a great championship game," VCU head coach Shaka Smart said. "I am so proud of our guys. It took a whole team effort to do what we did tonight. Drexel is a phenomenal team."
Damion Lee had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat netted 15 and 14 points, respectively, for Drexel (27-6), which had its school record 19-game win streak snapped.
Drexel trailed 35-19 at the half behind a stifling defensive effort by the Rams, but the Dragons rallied in the second half to make a charge.
VCU maintained its double-digit lead through the first seven minutes of the second half until a 7-1 run by the Dragons cut their deficit to 41-32 with 13 minutes left in the game.
Bradford Burgess put an end to the spurt by splitting the Drexel defense and finishing with a driving layup, and the teams traded baskets over the next eight minutes until Lee's three-pointer sparked a 10-2 swing by the Dragons to make it a 54-51 game with a little over a minute left.
Graham then made 1-of-2 free throws at the other end and after Lee missed a couple of shots on the Rams' ensuing possession, Massenat was fouled while stealing the ball from Juvonte Reddic and connected on a pair of free throws to get the Rams within 55-53 with 21 seconds on the clock.
Daniels made a pair of free throws before Massenat's open trey from the right wing with 12.7 left made it a 57-56 contest.
Daniels again connected on two foul shots to give VCU a three-point cushion, but Massenat's three-point attempt from the top of the key was too strong and Theus grabbed the rebound as time expired to seal the victory for VCU.
"I wanted to take that shot," Massenat said. "I thought it was going in, but just missed it."
After Theus opened the game with a layup, Drexel recorded the next five points to take the lead on Lee's three-pointer.
VCU, though, answered with a 6-0 spurt to retake the lead on Daniels' four- point play.
The Rams maintained a one-possession lead until they reeled off an 8-2 run that included a span of five-plus minutes in which neither team recorded a basket from the floor to jump out to a 16-9 advantage with nine minutes left in the first half.
Fouch stopped the run with a driving layup that was followed by a Massenat jumper to close the gap to three, but the Rams outscored Drexel by a mark of 19-6 for the remainder of the half as their defense continued to smother the Dragons.
Drexel was held to just 26.9 percent shooting and turned the ball over 12 times in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 35-19 deficit at the break.Game Notes
VCU improved to 4-3 in their last seven championship game appearances...The Rams' 28 wins on the season ties a school record shared by the 2006-07 and 2010-11 squads...VCU is 10-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament...Drexel has not been invited to the NCAA Tournament since the 1995-96 season...The Dragons finished the game shooting 35.3 percent.