The Colonial Athletic Association is preparing to send another team to the NCAA Tournament tonight, as the Drexel Dragons and Virginia Commonwealth Rams square off in the title game of the 30th annual CAA Tournament at Richmond Coliseum.
The darling of the CAA the last few years, VCU already has four titles from this event over the years, the latest coming in 2009 in a 71-50 victory over George Mason. The second-seeded Rams, losers to Old Dominion in last year's championship game (70-65), took care of Northeastern in the quarterfinals on Saturday, 75-65, and then topped third-seeded George Mason yesterday afternoon in a 74-64 final in order to advance.
As for the top-seeded Dragons, they are one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball with a staggering 19 straight wins, somewhat unusual given that the program started off 2011-12 with four defeats in six games and one of those setbacks was against Norfolk State. However, since losing to Georgia State on Jan. 2, the team has been perfect and in doing so has reached the title game in the CAA Tournament for the first time since 2003.
Drexel, which has never taken home the trophy in this event, defeated both UNCW and Old Dominion rather easily in the last two rounds, posting wins of 12 and 17 points, respectively.
Drexel won the only regular-season meeting between these two teams this season back in early January by a score of 64-58 at home, which means the all-time series now sits at 12-8 in favor of the Rams. VCU shot a mere 36.2 percent from the floor and 7-of-24 behind the three-point line in the contest, not to mention 9-of-20 at the free-throw line.
Bradford Burgess led four players in double figures as he tallied 20 points, shooting 5-of-10 behind the three-point line, in the double-digit win over George Mason yesterday. Troy Daniels also had the hot hand out on the perimeter as he connected on 4-of-7 three-point tries on his way to 17 points, followed by Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Defensively, the Rams held the opposition to only 4-of-14 shooting behind the three-point line and forced the Patriots into 17 turnovers. Despite shooting just 36.5 percent from the field heading into yesterday's meeting, Burgess is still the top scorer for the team with his 13.4 ppg, followed by Reddic (10.8 ppg) and Troy Daniels (10.2 ppg). Through the first 32 games of the campaign, the program has been able to hold the competition to only 59.5 ppg.
Drexel raced out to a 15-3 lead and never looked back versus the Monarchs yesterday, holding ODU to a mere seven total field goals in the first half and 2-of-9 shooting behind the three-point line in the period. The defense for the Dragons was all over ODU, limiting the squad to a mere 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and 3-of-18 out on the perimeter in the meeting. Four starters scored in double figures for the Dragons, led by Frantz Massenat with 20 points, followed by Damion Lee and Chris Fouch with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Samme Givens shook off five turnovers to deliver 12 points and a team-best 12 rebounds. Much like the Rams, Drexel relies heavily on defense as it holds the competition to just 55.3 ppg on 38.4 percent shooting from the floor and 28.3 percent beyond the arc. Massenat (13.6 ppg) leads four players in double figures, thanks to his 45.0 percent accuracy on the outside.