WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jeff Dowtin scored 18 points, Jared Terrell added 16 points and No. 25 Rhode Island survived a challenge from VCU 76-67 Friday in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship quarterfinals.
Top-seeded Rhode Island (24-6) snapped a two-game slide as it began its tournament defense.
Justin Tillman had 23 points and 15 rebounds for eighth-seeded VCU (18-15), which lost to Rhode Island in the conference tournament for the second consecutive season.
It wasn't an easy afternoon for Rhode Island, which won its first 13 Atlantic 10 games before dropping three of its last five regular-season contests. After building a 9-point lead in the first 11 minutes, Rhode Island held a 36-33 edge at the break.
VCU led 59-58 when Dowtin hit a 3-pointer to put Rhode Island ahead for good with more than five minutes to play. He added another basket and a vital rebound moments later to help keep VCU from reclaiming the lead.
Stanford Robinson's 3-pointer with 2:34 remaining pushed Rhode Island's advantage to 66-59. VCU never cut the margin to less than 5 the rest of the way.