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College basketball: Holy Cross (14-19) wins NCAA berth

College basketball: Holy Cross (14-19) wins NCAA berth

Lehigh forward guard Austin Price, center, attempts to grab a rebound as he fights off Holy Cross forward Malachi Alexander during the first half of the Patriot League Championship game on Wednesday.

(Rich Schultz / AP)

Malachi Alexander scored 26 points and Holy Cross (14-19) capped its stunning run to the Patriot League title and an NCAA tournament berth with a 59-56 victory over Lehigh on Wednesday night at Bethlehem, Pa.

The Crusaders failed to win a conference road game during the regular season. Once the tournament started, the Crusaders won at Navy and American, then knocked off second-seeded Lehigh (17-15) to reach the NCAAs for the first time since 2007.

Alexander made six of seven three-pointers, more than enough for the ninth-seeded Crusaders to end Lehigh’s school record-tying 11-game winning streak.

Holy Cross is the 20th team since 1985 to make the NCAA tournament with a losing record, per STATS LLC.

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Also:

Nevada Las Vegas 108, Air Force 102 (3OT): Senior Ike Nwamu scored a career-high 38 points and Patrick McCaw added 27 with 14 rebounds to help the Rebels (18-14) advance to the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas. Jacob Van scored a career-high 37 points for the Falcons, who had five players foul out.

No. 19 Duke 92, N.C. State 89: A bloodied Marshall Plumlee’s tiebreaking three-point play with 1:14 left helped the Blue Devils overcome a second-half deficit against the Wolfpack for the third time in three meetings in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament at Washington. The defending NCAA champions (23-9) face defending ACC tournament champion Notre Dame in the quarterfinals.

Pittsburgh 72, Syracuse 71: Cameron Johnson scored a career-high 24 points off the bench as the Panthers (21-10) strengthened their NCAA resume by fending off a late run by the Orange in the ACC tournament. Johnson and Ryan Luther helped Pitt’s bench outscore Syracuse’s 39-10 to finish a season sweep and deal a significant blow to the tournament hopes of the Orange (19-13).

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