ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Kevin Anderson capped a tournament MVP performance with 23 points and Richmond finished the job this season, winning its first Atlantic 10 title with a 67-54 victory over Dayton on Sunday.
Justin Harper added 18 points as the third-seeded Spiders (27-7) won their seventh straight game and earned consecutive NCAA tournament berths for the second time in school history.
It also gave them a feeling much different than a year ago when they lost the title game to Temple in a heartbreaker, giving the Owls their third straight championship in this casino resort.
The Spiders, who went to the NCAAs in 1990 and 1991. brought down the boardwalk empire on Saturday with a 58-54 win over Temple.
They also all but ended ninth-seeded Dayton's hopes for an NCAA bid. Despite upsetting top-seeded Xavier in the quarterfinals, the defending NIT champion Flyers (22-13) probably needed to win the tournament to get in the NCAA field.
Kevin Smith added 12 points and Darrius Garrett came off the bench when Harper got in foul trouble early in the second half and grabbed nine rebounds. The Spiders also came up big from long range, hitting 10 of 21.
Chris Johnson had 11 points for Dayton, which got off to a terrible start, fell behind by 15 and never could get over the hump. Paul Williams and Chris Wright, who carried the Flyers in the early rounds, were limited to eight points apiece, taking only a combined 13 shots.
The story of the game and the tournament was Anderson, the league's 2010 player of the year.
The senior point guard was 6 of 15 from the field, but every shot he hit seemed to be a big one. He scored 11 points in the first 15 minutes allowing the Spiders to build a 29-14 lead.
Dayton made its only serious run in the final 5 minutes of the first half and the opening few minutes of the second, drawing within 34-29 on a three-point play by Johnson.
However, Anderson nailed a 3-pointer shortly after Harper left with his third foul and Smith hit three free throws and a layup off a nice assist by fifth-year senior Dan Geriot to push the lead to 42-29.
The closest the Flyers got after that was 44-38 when Williams ended a personal six-point run with a jumper with 11:33 to go.
Of course, Anderson responded with a jumper and Smith hit a layup off a nice feed by Harper and the Spiders were pretty much home free with their 14th win in 16 games.
Anderson, who said after the win on Saturday that the tournament would not be complete without a title, helped put the game away with five free throws in the final 2 minutes. He walked off the court into a huge hug from coach Chris Mooney with 30.4 seconds to go as the fans in the half empty Boardwalk Hall — capacity 10,000 — chanted M-V-P.
This was Richmond's third shot at the league crown in its 10 years in the Atlantic 10. It lost in 2002 to Xavier and came up just short last season.
The third time was a charm.
Dayton, which last went to the NCAA tournament in 2009, won its only league title in 2003. It lost the title game in 2004 to Xavier.
If Dayton did anything wrong, it settled for jumpers in the opening 15 minutes and didn't get going until it started attacking the rim.