RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Darius James scored 12 points and Kent Basemore had 10 as top-seeded Old Dominion beat William & Mary 60-53 in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship Monday night to earn the league's automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
Old Dominion (26-8) won the league's guaranteed bid for the first time since 2005, and may have ended William & Mary's hopes of qualifying for the tournament for the first time.
William & Mary (22-10) is one of five original Division I schools, along with Army, The Citadel, Northwestern and St. Francis, N.Y., never to have been included in an NCAA field.
Danny Sumner led William & Mary with 19 points, but the Monarchs extended their defense to hamper the Tribe's 3-point shooting. The Tribe, making their second championship appearance — both in the past three years — was just 9 for 31 on 3-pointers.
The loss left William & Mary hoping a resume that includes road victories at Wake Forest and Maryland of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Richmond of the Atlantic 10 will impresses the selection committee. Otherwise, they seem assured of a berth in the NIT, which would also be somewhat historic for the program; only in 1982 has the Tribe played in a postseason tournament.
Trailing throughout, William & Mary pulled within five with 5 minutes left on Sumner's fifth 3-pointer and two free throws by Quinn McDowell, but Gerald Lee hit a 10-foot baby hook from the right baseline with 4:46 to go to end the run and William & Mary never got closer.
The Tribe's problem all night was playing catchup. They trailed 31-24 at halftime and the margin grew to 15 when the Monarchs opened the second half on a 10-2 spurt. It started with a 3-pointer by James and finished with one by Ben Finney, giving them their largest lead.
The Tribe responded with seven points in a row, the last five on a dunk and 3-pointer by Sumner, and pulled to within 47-40 when Finney made his second 3 to stop the burst.
It was one of the few big shots the Monarchs had to hit to stay comfortably ahead.
Old Dominion led 31-24 at halftime, mostly on the strength of a 14-3 run midway through the half that extended a 13-11 lead to 27-14. Basemore and James each scored five in the burst, while the Tribe were 1 for 6 from the field and turned the ball over four times.
But the Monarchs scored just four more points in the half, while 3-pointers by David Schneider, JohnMark Ludwick and Sumner closed the Tribe within seven at the break.