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Virginia Commonwealth 71, Massachusetts 62

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Troy Daniels scored 20 points to lead Virginia Commonwealth to a 71-62 win over Massachusetts on Saturday and a trip to the Atlantic 10 tournament final in the Rams' first season in the conference.

Juvonte Reddic added 18 points, including 13 in the second half, for second-seeded VCU in the semifinal win over the sixth-seeded Minutemen at the Barclays Center.

No. 25 VCU (26-7) will play top-seeded St. Louis in the tournament final at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Daniels had six 3-pointers for the Rams, who struggled from the field but used their frenzied pressing defense to wear down the Minutemen. UMass was playing its third game in three days.

Chaz Williams, the Brooklyn native who scored 28 points in Friday's upset win over second-seeded Temple, had 18 points to lead UMass (21-11). Senior Terrell Vinson, who had 15 points and a big 3-pointer late against Temple, was limited to two points and fouled out late in the second half.

The Rams were boosted by a strong showing from their vocal fan base, which heavily dotted the arena with black and yellow.

UMass hung tight until the final minutes, closing within 65-61 on Maxie Esho's free throw with 1:56 left.

But Rob Bradenberg hit a 3-pointer for VCU as the shot clock expired on the Rams' next possession to give them a 68-61 lead with 1:21 left, all but ending the comeback bid for UMass.

Down 10 midway through the second half, the Minutemen went on a 12-4 run to pull within 58-56 on Williams' drive with 5:23 left.

But VCU reeled off the next six points to boost the lead back to eight. Briante Weber scored on a 3-point play, hitting a foul shot to go with his layup, before stealing the ball on the Minutemen's next possession and feeding Daniels for his sixth 3-pointer of the game and a 64-56 lead with 4:18 remaining.

Up one at halftime, the Rams opened a 10-point lead with a 10-2 run midway through the second half.

Reddic scored six points during the stretch, which was capped by a layup from Melvin Johnson after a steal by Treveon Graham to make it 54-44 with 10:06 left.

VCU entered halftime with a 35-34 lead despite trailing for most of the half, including a nine-point deficit midway through.

But Daniels hit three straight 3-pointers to give the Rams a 24-23 lead with 4:11 left in the half and the teams stayed tight to the intermission.

Cady LaLanne led UMass with 10 points and five rebounds in the first half, scoring six straight points for the Minutemen in one stretch.

NOTES: VCU's boisterous crowd showed its support early, even hijacking the Butler pep band by chanting "V-C-U!" as the Bulldogs played St. Louis in the earlier game. ... The Rams dropped a road loss to the Billikens 76-62 on Feb. 19.

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