Darius Theus had a career-high 16 points and five steals and Troy Daniels made four huge free throws in the final 19 seconds, allowing VCU to hang on and beat top-seeded Drexel on Monday, 59-56, in the championship of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in Richmond, Va.
VCU (28-6) was the biggest story of last year’s NCAA Tournament, when coach Shaka Smart’s team reached the Final Four after being one of the last teams picked for the field. The Rams won’t have to wait for an at-large bid this season, but Drexel made it interesting after falling behind by 16 at halftime.
The Dragons (27-6), who had won a school-record 19 in a row and not lost since Jan. 2, got to within a point on Chris Fouch’s 3-pointer with 12.7 seconds to play.
MAAC final - Erik Etherly had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead Loyola-Maryland (24-8) back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994 with a 48-44 win over Fairfield in Springfield. Boston College transfer Rakim Sanders scored 12 points for Fairfield (19-14), which upset the tournament’s top seed, Iona.
Southern final - Clint Mann’s dunk with 1:04 left in double overtime put Davidson (26-7) ahead to stay and the Wildcats defeated Western Carolina, 93-91, in Asheville, N.C., to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
West Coast final - Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points to lead Saint Mary’s (27-5) to a 78-74 overtime victory against No. 24 Gonzaga to claim its second automatic NCAA bid in three years. Elias Harris led Gonzaga (25-6) with 22 points, including a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left to force the extra period.
Atlantic 10 final - Justine Raterman scored 13 points and Dayton rebounded after blowing a 22-point lead to beat No. 16 St. Bonaventure, 56-53, in Philadelphia. The Flyers (23-6) dominated early and didn’t trail until the final minutes. The Bonnies (29-3) had their 18-game winning streak snapped and must wait for an at-large bid for the program’s first spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Big East semifinals - Stefanie Dolson scored 23 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 22 to help fourth-ranked Connecticut rout No. 13 St. John’s, 74-43, in Hartford. Connecticut (28-4) had a 99-game home winning streak snapped by St. John’s (22-9) when the teams played Feb. 18 . . . Natalie Novosel scored 18 points and Kayla McBride added 15 to help third-ranked Notre Dame beat No. 25 West Virginia, 73-45. Notre Dame will be looking for its first Big East tournament championship; the Irish have faced Connecticut in the Big East final four times previous. Notre Dame (30-2) got a measure of revenge on the Mountaineers (23-9), who ended the Irish’s 21-game winning streak on Feb. 12 by beating them, 65-63.
MAAC final - Tournament MVP Corielle Yarde scored 16 points to help Marist (25-7) beat Fairfield, 61-35, in Springfield to win the conference tournament for the seventh straight year and clinch a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Fairfield (24-8) was seeking its first trip to the NCAAs since 1998.
Patriot semifinals - Amy Lepley scored a career-high 24 points and Holy Cross never trailed, upsetting top-seeded American, 67-52, in Washington. Lepley, who added 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 4 steals, was the only player in double figures for the fifth-seeded Crusaders (18-13). American (23-7) fell behind, 32-15, at halftime. Holy Cross will travel to Annapolis, Md., on Saturday to face No. 3 seed and defending champion Navy (17-13), which beat Lehigh, 64-59.
Southern final - Jazmine Powers had 14 points and seven rebounds as Samford (20-12) defeated Appalachian State in Asheville, N.C., 54-43, earning a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Appalachian State (25-6) had swept the regular-season series.
West Coast final - Dani Peterson scored 18 points to help Brigham Young (26-6) beat three-time defending champion Gonzaga, 78-66, in Las Vegas. The Cougars won their first WCC tournament after 12 years in the Mountain West Conference, and are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. Haiden Palmer led Gonzaga (26-5) with 28 points.