NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Frank Hassell scored 22 points and second-seeded Old Dominion earned the right to defend its Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship with a 77-69 victory against Hofstra in the semifinals on Sunday.
Darius James added 16 points — his season-high in CAA games this season — and Kent Bazemore had 11 as the Monarchs (26-6) shot 57 percent in winning their eighth in a row.
Hofstra (21-11), playing beyond the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, got 16 points from two-time CAA player of the year Charles Jenkins and 12 from Mike Moore, but couldn’t slow the bigger, more physical Monarchs near the basket.
Old Dominion outscored the Pride 38-20 in the paint and outrebounded them 34-27.
The Monarchs will face fourth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University, which upset top-seeded George Mason 79-63 in Sunday’s first semifinal, for the championship.
Old Dominion shot better than 58 percent in the first half and led 41-34 at the break.
Hofstra trailed by 11 in the second half before Jenkins made 3-pointers 1:48 apart — the second with 12:01 left, ending a 7-2 spurt — to pull the Pride within 56-50. But they had no answer for the Monarchs’ inside game. Hassell answered Jenkins’ second 3 with a pair of free throws, and Bazemore scored on a drive, pushing Old Dominion’s lead to 60-50 with 9:01 to go.
The Pride got as close as seven thereafter, but after Moore’s layup made it 66-59 with 5:03 to play, Trian Iliadis penetrated on the left baseline for a layup for Old Dominion, Jenkins was stripped at the other end and James’ layup boosted the lead to 70-59.
The Pride never threatened again, and will likely be left hoping for a call from the National Invitation Tournament when the postseason fields are set next Sunday night.
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