The Washington Times - March 6, 2011, 02:15PM

RICHMOND – George Mason had won 16 straight and earned an outright CAA championship. It entered its conference tournament with little doubt of its chances of reaching the NCAA’s field of 68.

With everything going right, one thing went terribly wrong – the Patriots had to deal with Virginia Commonwealth a few miles from the Rams’ campus.

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Top-seeded Mason found a familiar end at the Richmond Coliseum, absorbing a 79-63 loss to VCU in the CAA semifinals Sunday. It was the fifth time in eight years the Patriots (26-6) fell to the Rams (23-10) in the conference tournament.

Jamie Skeen scored 21 points for fourth-seeded VCU, which will meet Old Dominion or Hofstra in Monday’s conference final.

Mason suffered its largest margin of defeat of the season. It trailed by 14 at halftime, cut the deficit in half in the opening minutes of the second half, then faded the rest of the way.

– Patrick Stevens