VCU Puts Away Dayton to Win Its First A-10 Title | Zagsblog
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Wednesday / March 22.
  • VCU Puts Away Dayton to Win Its First A-10 Title

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    NEW YORK— With both teams confident of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, No. 5-seeded VCU and No. 2 Dayton battled one last time at Barclays Center in an attempt to impress the selection committee on Selection Sunday.

    With little energy left to give, it was VCU that held on to win 71-65, bringing home their first Atlantic 10 Tournament championship.

    “I never wear hats but they gave us one for winning the Championship,” said Rams head coach Shaka Smart. “Just really, really proud of our guys.”

    Tournament MVP Treveon Graham scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and JeQuan Lewis, who finished with 15 points, made two clutch free-throws in the closing seconds that put Dayton’s comeback hopes out of reach.

    “They were a really, really tough opponent today,” Smart said. “Really neither team deserved to lose. We were just fortunate that we were able to make a couple more plays at the end. But they are a championship-caliber team.”

    Making conference tournament finals has been a ritual for Rams and the VCU (26-9) faithful. Sunday marked their fifth consecutive finals appearance.

    The Rams started the season 17-3 before lead guard Briante Weber suffered a season-ending knee injury. In his absence, the Rams struggled mightily in the month of February, going 4-4. The conference tournament proved that Smart’s squad is starting to play up to their potential and are starting to wreak havoc on their opponents.

    With only six scholarship players on their roster, one could say that depth is an issue for Dayton (25-8).  Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Flyers were looking for their first A-10 title since 2003.  As the game wore down to the final minutes, there was simply no gas left in the tank.

    Guard Scoochie Smith led the Flyers in scoring with 16 points and also grabbed 5 rebounds.  Dyshawn Pierre posted a double-double, scoring 14 points and tallying 11 rebounds. Go-to guard Jordan Sibert struggled to find his niche. He finished with 14 points, shooting 7-for-9 from the charity stripe.

    As far as Selection Sunday goes, both are considered to be in the middle of the bracket, which is an eighth or ninth seed.

    “I’m really excited to see what the Atlantic 10 is going to do here in the NCAA Tournament,” said Smart. “Because obviously the league has a great history of success and there are some very dangerous teams in our conference.”

    Photo: RamsReview

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.