Down by four points with 10 minutes to play, Old Dominion had a chance to pull within one, but Marsharee Neely missed a 3-pointer.
Down six with 5 minutes left, Gerald Lee's hook shot bounced off the back of the rim.
It was a day of missed chances for the Monarchs, who made just six second-half field goals and shot 32 percent in a 61-53 loss to VCU in the semifinals of the CAA tournament Sunday.
Lee, a junior forward who scored a career-high 30 points in ODU's 52-51 quarterfinal win Saturday against Hofstra, was just 1-of-7 from the field and totaled five points, his second-lowest output of the season. The focus of constant double teams, Lee, playing with a stress fracture in his left foot, twisted his left ankle in the first half and was clearly hobbled in the second, when he took just one shot.
"I really believe we had enough talent on the rest of the roster, had we made a few plays — a couple of loose-ball rebounds, a couple of jump shots," ODU coach Blaine Taylor said. "We could have been right to the wire. We stayed close. We stayed in contact. It was just a kid here or there that could have made a play, and nobody feels worse than that kid here or there."
Frank Hassell led the Monarchs (21-10) with 14 points, but had just four in the second half. Keyon Carter was the only other Monarch in double digits with 12. Ben Finney, averaging 10.5 points per game, had seven, and sophomore point guard Darius James, averaging seven points, was held without a point or an assist for the first time all season.
ODU, which outrebounded VCU 20-12 in the first half, led by as many as 10 points early before Eric Maynor, VCU's senior guard and the CAA player of the year, got going after an 0-for-4 start. Maynor's deep 3 put the Rams (23-9), the three-time regular-season conference champions, up 25-24, but Neely's three-point play wrested the lead back for the Monarchs, who led 28-27 at the half.
"The first 15 minutes, our guys were challenged," VCU coach Anthony Grant said. "We were able to settle down, defend a lot better than we initially had to start the game, take the emotion out of it and focus on the things that we needed to do."
Hassell's baseline hook put ODU up 30-27 to open the second half, but those were two of the four points the Monarchs scored in the half's first eight minutes. VCU led by eight before Neely rebounded his own missed shot, put it back up and completed the three-point play to make it 40-35 with 12 minutes to play.
ODU wouldn't make another field goal until Jonathan Adams banked in a runner at the 4:10 mark. The Monarchs hung around from the free-throw line, but after Lee missed his only shot attempt of the second half with five minutes left, Maynor drilled a deep 3 from 24 feet to give VCU its largest lead at 53-44.
Maynor led all scorers with 23 points, while forward Larry Sanders added 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Rams.
"We just were out of sync," Hassell said. "We got a lot of shots that we wanted. We just had to knock them down."
The Monarchs pulled within 55-49 on Carter's three-point play, but VCU guard Joey Rodriguez, who was 1-for-8, made his only make a huge one, draining a 3 to push the Rams' lead back to nine with 3:23 left.
Sanders' highlight-reel slam off Maynor's alley-oop with 1:37 to play gave VCU its final points and a 12-point lead.
"Everybody kept their head up at halftime," Maynor said. "We were only down one point, (and) it's a 40-minute ball game."
VCU 61, OLD DOMINION 53
OLD DOMINION (21-10): Lee 1-7 3-4 5, Hassell 5-7 4-6 14, James 0-8 0-0 0, Neely 3-12 3-4 9, Finney 2-4 2-6 7, Cooper 0-0 0-0 0, De Lancey 0-0 0-0 0, Bazemore 0-1 4-4 4, Carter 4-8 4-5 12, Adams 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 16-50 20-29 53.
VCU (23-9): Sanders 5-10 2-4 12, Pishchalnikov 1-2 1-4 3, Maynor 7-13 7-9 23, Rodriguez 1-8 0-0 3, Burgess 2-6 2-2 7, Saintil 0-0 0-0 0, Rozzell 3-4 0-0 6, Gwynn 2-3 2-3 6, Nixon 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 21-46 15-24 61.
Halftime—Old Dominion 28-27. 3-point goals—Old Dominion 1-9 (Finney 1-1, Neely 0-1, Adams 0-1, James 0-3, Carter 0-3), VCU 4-13 (Maynor 2-3, Burgess 1-3, Rodriguez 1-6, Rozzell 0-1). Fouled out—Pishchalnikov. Rebounds—Old Dominion 37 (Bazemore 7), VCU 32 (Sanders 14). Assists—Old Dominion 8 (Adams 3), VCU 9 (Maynor 4). Total fouls—Old Dominion 18, VCU 23.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times