The stage is set. The field is down to two. Top seed VCU and second seed Dayton will square off for the A10 championship. The two last met in the A10 title game back in 2015. Back then VCU, coached by Shaka Smart, defeated Archie Miller’s Flyers at the same Barclays Center. The semifinals gave us two games, one close and one not too close, to decide who moved on.
VCU 90 Saint Louis 78
Offensive efficiency: VCU 122, SLU 105
Leading scorers: VCU- Jayden Nunn 18, SLU- Javon Pickett 18.
VCU took the lead with just over four minutes gone in the game and never looked back. The five point Ram lead expanded by virtue of a 23-5 run at the onset of the second half. VCU is now 7-0 in semifinal games since joining the A10 in 2012-13. Rams shot 55% from the floor including 47% (9-19) from three, placing five players in double figures. “Five guys got in double figures because everyone was passing the ball,” observed VCU coach Mike Rhoades. VCU also forced the Billikens into a 20% turnover rate, enjoying a 24-16 edge in points off turnovers. “When they are making threes like that and defending like that, and they defended at a high level, they’re tough to beat,” Saint Louis coach Travis Ford noted.
Dayton 78 Fordham 68
Offensive efficiency: Dayton 130, Fordham 113
Leading scorers: Dayton- Toumani Camara 28, Fordham- Khalid Moore 24.
A late 9-0 run gave Dayton separation as they advanced to the championship game. Camara shot an A10 Championship-best 12 of 13 (92%) from the field while adding seven rebounds. “Our guys showed unbelievable toughness,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “A level of grit you’ve got to have in March.” Fordham, picked eleventh in the conference preseason poll, was a third seed- their highest since joining the league. In a game with eight lead changes, the Rams were within one before Dayton’s late surge. “We gave everything that we could have given,” Fordham coach Keith Urgo said. (We know) very few teams have ever gone undefeated. You’ve got to learn from whatever it is that you go through.” Fordham led 38-28 in points in the paint. The Flyers however, shot 82% (23-28) from inside the arc.