NORFOLK, Va. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ SeniorÃ‚Â Eric Maynor (Raeford, N.C.)Ã‚Â scored 22 points and sophomore Larry Sanders booked a double-double, but Virginia Commonwealth University had Old Dominion slip through its fingers in a 69-65 loss before 8,424 Saturday at the Constant Convocation Center.
The MonarchsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Gerald Lee scored nine of his 18 points during a critical stretch late in the second half. His final jumper gave ODU (16-9, 9-6 CAA) a 59-57 it would not relinquish with 2:25 remaining. Following a pair of Darius JamesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ free throws that extended the margin to four, Lee drove and lane and kicked to Ben Finney in the corner for a 3-pointer with 1:25 on the clock. The Rams (18-8, 11-4 CAA) would never recover.
Finney added 16 points and five rebounds, while Frank Hassell chipped in with 10 points and six boards for Old Dominion.
Sanders finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots for VCU. FreshmanBradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.)Ã‚Â scored 16 points and hit 4-of-5 3-point attempts.
The Monarchs out rebounded the Rams, 43-37, and outscored VCU, 35-20, in the paint. ODU grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told the guys after the game, our first shot defense was very good, our second shot defense cost us the game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Commented VCU Head Coach Anthony Grant.
The Rams opened the second half with a 14-0 blitz, sparked by a Burgess 3-pointer and capped by a three-point play by juniorÃ‚Â T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.), to pull ahead, 42-37.
However, Lee dropped back-to-back layups for ODU during a 7-0 burst to tie the score at 42-42 with 12:52 remaining.
VCU returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 18 when it hosts Delaware at the Alltel Pavilion at the Stuart C. Siegel Center at 7 p.m.