Maynor, Rams down Patriots; win CAA tourney
Richmond, VA (Sports Network) - Eric Maynor scored 20 points, including nine straight down the stretch, as the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth captured an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament with a 65-59 win over last year's Cinderella George Mason in the title game of the 25th annual Colonial Athletic Association Tournament from Richmond Coliseum.
Wil Fameni scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Rams (27-6), who won the most recent of their two championships in 2004. Calvin Roland added 12 points and Ba Walker netted 10 for VCU, which dismissed ninth seed Georgia State rather easily in the quarterfinals on Saturday, 73-60, and then held on to defeat Drexel, 63-56, Sunday afternoon.
Dre Smith scored 12 points for the Patriots (18-15), who shocked the college basketball community last year. Will Thomas and Gabe Norwood both scored 10 points for this year's sixth seed in the tourney, which had to battle through a first-round 73-62 victory over James Madison, a stunning 64-61 triumph against third seed Hofstra in the quarters and then a dominating 79-63 thrashing of second seed Old Dominion on Sunday to make it to the title game.
The Patriots were in search of their fourth crown and the first since 2001.
By picking the pockets of Smith and Norwood, Maynor broke free for a layup twice in a row, the former of which he converted into a three-point play, to tie the score at 57 with 1:44 remaining. After Folarin Campbell missed on a three-point attempt, Maynor highlighted his nine straight points on a leaner with 46.4 seconds on the clock.
Campbell then cut hard around the right wing, but Wil Fameni swatted the ball about four rows into the crowd with 30.5 seconds left. Smith then missed on a three-point attempt and Maynor got the rebound, on which Darryl Monroe got called for a flagrant foul. Maynor converted both free throws for a 61-57 Rams lead with 19.1 seconds.
Walker then hit a pair of free throws with 17.1 seconds remaining, and Norwood answered on a quick jumper with 8.3 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, 65-59. Walker next hit another pair of free throws with 7.7 seconds on the clock, as VCU sealed its bid to the tourney.
Mason came away from a back-and-forth first half with a 31-27 halftime lead.
The Rams set a CAA record with 16 league wins in the regular season...With respect to the all- time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Rams now hold a 25-14 advantage over George Mason after sweeping the regular- season series this year. On January 24 VCU posted a 75-62 triumph on GMU's floor then repeated the feat at home with a 63-49 triumph just two weeks later.GMASON VCU