VCU returns to dance

March 6, 2012 12:00 am

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Darius Theus had a career-high 16 points and five steals and Troy Daniels made four huge free throws in the final 19 seconds, allowing VCU to hang on and beat top-seeded Drexel, 59-56, in the championship of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in Richmond, Va.

VCU (28-6) was the biggest story of last year's NCAA tournament, when coach Shaka Smart's team reached the Final Four after being one of the last teams picked for the field.

The Rams won't have to wait for an at-large bid this season, but Drexel made it interesting after falling behind by 16 at halftime.

The Dragons (27-6), who had won a school-record 19 in a row and not lost since Jan. 2, got to within a point on Chris Fouch's 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds to play.

Daniels made a pair from the line with 18.9 seconds left and two more with 11.9 seconds to go, and Frantz Massenat's 3-point try just before the buzzer was off the mark, leaving Drexel hoping for an at-large invitation into the field of 68.

Treveon Graham added 13 points and Daniel 11 for the Rams. Freshman Damion Lee led Drexel with 20 points. Fouch had 15 pints and Massenat 14.

The Dragons rallied gradually throughout the second half and pulled within 54-51 with 1:14 to play with the help of four missed free throws in a row by VCU.

The Rams, who blitzed George Mason in the semifinals, taking a 32-4 lead in the first nine minutes, took a little longer to get going against the Dragons, but once they did, their intensity combined with the strain of three games in as many days seemed to take a toll on Drexel.

The Dragons, who came in averaging just over 11 turnovers, had 12 by halftime, and VCU had turned them into 16 points.

Other men's tournaments

• Metro Atlantic: Erik Etherly had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead Loyola-Maryland (24-8) back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994 with a 48-44 win against Fairfield (19-14) in the championship game in Springfield, Mass. The second-seeded Greyhounds trailed by four at halftime but opened the second half on an 11-1 run. Loyola held Fairfield without a point for almost 8 minutes and then held on for its fifth win in six games.

First Published 2012-03-05 23:27:49

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