VCU earns NCAA bid by beating Dayton in A-10 championship

NEW YORK — Jalen DeLoach had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and top-seeded VCU beat second-seeded Dayton, 68-56, on Sunday to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the first time in eight years.

Ace Baldwin added 16 points and seven assists, sending the Rams (27-7) to the NCAA Tournament with a nine-game winning streak and a title that often has eluded them during an otherwise impressive run of consistency.

VCU had played in the A-10 final six times from 2013-21, winning just once in 2015 when it beat Dayton.

DaRon Holmes II tried to carry the Flyers (22-12) to their first A-10 title since 2003 and first NCAA bid in six years. Holmes had 28 points and 16 rebounds but didn’t get enough help in the second half. The 6-foot-10 sophomore was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, averaging 22 points in three games at Barclays Center.

The Rams and Flyers split two regular-season games, decided by a total of three points. The rubber match was more of the same.

The Flyers bolted to a 10-point lead early in the second half, but Baldwin tied it at 47 with a 3 with 11:50 left in the second half and the Rams slowly edged away from there.

VCU converted three straight second-chance opportunities into seven points in the final 3 1/2 minutes, with DeLoach’s work on the offensive glass spurring the effort. Brandon Johns muscled in a layup that gave the Rams a 65-56 lead with 1:57 left.

A day after Dayton’s Toumani Camara went 12 for 13 from the floor in the semifinals against Fordham, he got into foul trouble and went scoreless in the first half against VCU. He fouled out with six points and six rebounds.

The 6-9 Mustapha Amzil stepped up to pair with Holmes to wear out the Rams inside. The two bigs combined to shoot 10 for 14 from the floor and score 29 points as Dayton took a 36-30 lead at halftime.

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