RICHMOND ——Every day wasn't going to be like Saturday. Shots falling. Marginal resistance. Competitive sunshine and rainbows and winning lottery tickets.
Not in the CAA tournament semifinals, not against the regular season champs with the coach whose nickname personifies his team's approach.
Old Dominion saw the scheduled portion of its season conclude Sunday amid a flurry of missed shots and opportunities, as top-seeded Drexel bounced the Monarchs 68-51 at the Richmond Coliseum.
"We had our moments, we had our chances," ODU coach Blaine Taylor said. "But compliments to Drexel, the season they've had, the run they've been on. I know that they're looking forward to (Monday) and it'll be interesting to see what happens."
Drexel (27-5) won its 19th consecutive game by stifling an ODU attack that produced a season-high 88 points in Saturday's quarterfinal win against Delaware. Just eight days earlier, the Monarchs managed 72 points in a one-point loss to the Dragons in the regular season finale.
That day, Monarchs' senior Kent Bazemore went for a career-high 37 points and was all but unguardable. On Sunday, he managed just 12 points, shooting 6-for-20 from the field with as many turnovers as field goals.
"They did the same thing every team pretty much did — just made me work," Bazemore said. "My shot didn't fall today. That's pretty much what happened. I think I took the same amount of shots (Saturday). They all felt good, they just didn't go in. It's one of those days. As a basketball player, you live and you die by your craft, and I obviously died by it today."
The Dragons did their best work inside, outrebounding the Monarchs 40-37. In the previous meeting, ODU had a 12-rebound edge, which it turned into a dozen second-chance points that helped keep the game close.
"We didn't do a bad job defending them last week," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "We just didn't get (any) rebounds against them. Today, we sort of — sort of — in big parts of the game we kept them off the backboards and from getting second shots.
"We did a better job on Bazemore today, making him work," Flint continued. "We just kept them off the glass, kept them off the glass for long periods of time."
Point guard Frantz Massenat (20 points) led four Drexel players in double figures, in addition to drawing defensive duties on Bazemore as the game unfolded. Bazemore exploited Drexel freshman Damion Lee in Norfolk and tried to do so again Sunday. But after Lee picked up two fouls in the first half, the 6-4 Massenat checked him much of the remainder of the game.
"I just wanted to contest his shots," Massenat said. "He had 37 against us the last time. Me guarding him, I didn't want him to have that many against me. The guys wouldn't let me enjoy it. All I was trying to do was stay in front and contest them. The coaches told me to 'wall up' and use my length against him. Today, he just missed a couple of shots that he made last week."
The Monarchs (20-13) started cold and never quite recovered. Drexel jumped out to a 15-3 lead as ODU missed 10 of its first 11 shots, and the Dragons continually turned back challenges.
Two critical sequences: The Monarchs were within 30-23 early in the second half, but Drexel scored on four consecutive possessions — stickbacks on the first two, three Massenat free throws when Bazemore fouled him at the end of the shot clock, and a Lee 3-pointer made it 41-25.
The Monarchs were within 46-38, but Drexel responded with a Samme Givens pass to a cutting Lee for a layup and after an ODU miss, Massenat hit a tough, leaning, opposite-handed drive to the basket for a 50-38 lead.
"There were a few pivotal possessions as I look back at it, where we gave ourselves a fighting chance," Taylor said. "You'd like to not had maybe quite as deep a hole, but we could see some light at the end of the tunnel. … It seemed like every time we'd kind of start seeing a glimmer of light, something would happen to stem the tide."
Drexel now plays for its first CAA tournament championship in just its second finals appearance. The only other time the Dragons advanced to the title game was 2003, the school's second year in the conference.
"They're a very good team," Bazemore said. "I hope they pull it out. I won't feel so bad tomorrow if I lose to the champion of this tournament."