RICHMOND, Va. -- Jesse Pellot-Rosa scored 16 points and hit all four of his 3-point shots Sunday, leading Virginia Commonwealth to a 63-56 victory against Drexel and into the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
The Rams (26-6) tied their school record for victories in a season and advanced to Monday night's title game against George Mason.Drexel (23-8) trailed 34-24 at halftime and by as many as 18 in the second half, but rallied to within 54-49 with 2:14 to play before the top-seeded Rams closed it out.Michael Anderson also scored 16 for VCU and B.A. Walker had 14.Frank Elegar led the Dragons with 15 points and Bashir Mason had 12.Pellot-Rosa's 3-pointers 39 seconds apart capped a 14-3 run for VCU early in the second half that gave them a 48-30 lead and made a surprising blowout seem imminent.But Rams coach Anthony Grant gave most of his starters a long breather with the big lead, and Drexel tightened its defensive pressure and went on a 12-0 run. The Rams were 0-for-4 from the field during 7 1/2 scoreless minutes and turned it over five times.But when the starters came back, Walker broke the dry spell with a layup with 7:39 remaining and Wil Fameni hit two free throws with 4:32 to go, building the lead to 10.The Dragons got as close as five, but no closer thereafter.The teams met only once in the regular season, with VCU winning 75-68 in Philadelphia on Jan. 27. Elegar sat out that game serving a one-game suspension mandated by the conference for unsportsmanlike conduct during a previous game.Elegar was dominant inside, making 7 of 9 shots, but the rest of the Dragons were just 15-for-39 from the field and Drexel was 3-for-16 on 3s. VCU was 7-for-11.Both teams had more turnovers than baskets in a frenetic first half, which the Rams closed with a 16-4 run to lead 34-24 at the break. VCU's 13 turnovers in the half easily exceeded their 11.1 per-game average, and the Dragons gave it away 12 times.Two of the Rams' turnovers in the first 3 1/2 minutes came on offensive fouls against point guard Eric Maynor, who went to the bench and watched the final 16:28.Dominick Mejia was 0-for-8 from the field in the half for Drexel.