VCU specializes in tip-to-buzzer full-court pressure. Old Dominion essentially uses just seven players.
Given that combination, it seemed only a matter of time Sunday before VCU's smothering style would exact its toll.
That time came over the final 12:22, when VCU outscored Old Dominion 29-7 and sped off with a 69-48 victory Sunday at the Siegel Center.
"VCU's really good," Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones said. "They're relentless in their pressure and we don't have a lot of depth. They wear you down. They clearly wore us down."
The Monarchs (4-5) hung tough throughout a first half that ended with them trailing by just three, and actually took a brief second-half lead at 41-40 on an Aaron Bacote 3-pointer with 12:22 remaining. But the Monarchs went nearly seven minutes without another field goal until forward Richard Ross' layup with 5:29 left.
The Rams, meanwhile, regained the lead for good with 12:22 to go on a short jumper from freshman guard JeQuan Lewis.
That basket triggered a 13-0 VCU run; Old Dominion was 0 for 7 from the field with five turnovers over the same span.
"Once VCU smells blood, they're even more effective," Jones said.
While the Rams clearly finished strong, they got big production throughout the entire game from forward JuVonte Reddic, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
"When he plays with that activity and energy it really gives us a boost," Rams coach Shaka Smart said.
Reddic's rebounding was part of an all-out Rams assault on the boards that was just as critical as the VCU press at punishing Old Dominion. The Rams outrebounded the Monarchs 50-35 and had 27 offensive boards that led to 30 second-chance points.
The victory was the fourth straight for VCU (8-2). Old Dominion has lost four in a row after a 4-1 start.
Bacote and guard Keenan Palmore each scored 13 points for the Monarchs. But no Old Dominion reserve contributed to the scoring. VCU's edge in bench scoring was 22-0.
"Against a team like VCU (our starters) can't play the number of minutes they're playing and maintain effectiveness," Jones said. "The effort in the first half, for the most part, was tremendous. We were right there. But once we got tired ... they were bigger, stronger and faster. We just didn't have enough."
Palmore scored eight points as the Monarchs shot out to a 16-8 lead before Rams guard Treveon Graham and Reddic fueled a 20-4 VCU run. A 3-pointer by guard Rob Brandenburg with 9:54 left gave VCU its first lead at 21-18, and a Graham triple capped the spurt and extended the Rams' lead to 28-20.
The Monarchs answered by scoring eight of the next 10 points to get to within three, and ODU managed to keep it a one-possession game with the Rams ahead 34-31 at halftime.
Graham scored 13 first-half points and hit all three of his 3-pointers before the break while Reddic added 12 for the Rams. The duo combined to score VCU's first 18 points.
Palmore's eight points paced the Monarchs, who found success attacking VCU's pressure defense and scored 24 of their 31 points in the paint.
Notes: The game was played before the 40th consecutive sellout crowd at the Siegel Center, the fifth-longest active streak in Division I. ... The Rams improved to 13-2 against in-state opponents since the start of the 2011-12 season, a streak that includes four straight victories over Old Dominion. ... The Monarchs did not attempt a free throw until the 7:31 mark of the first half when F Richard Ross missed both attempts. Old Dominion finished the game three of seven from the line. ... The game was Old Dominion's first true road game after six home contests and two neutral-site affairs at the Cancun Challenge.