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College basketball: Spartans end 16-year tournament drought

College basketball: Spartans end 16-year tournament drought
East Tennessee State forward David Burrell (2), UNC-Greensboro forward Jordy Kuiper (32) and East Tennessee State guard Desonta Bradford (1) scramble for control of the ball in the second half on March 5, 2018, in Asheville, N.C. (Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press)

Jordy Kuiper and Demetrius Troy each scored 13 points Monday night and North Carolina Greensboro pulled away for a 62-47 victory over East Tennessee State at Asheville, N.C., to win the Southern Conference championship and earn its first NCAA tournament berth since 2001.

James Dickey III dominated the paint in the second half and finished with nine points, eight rebounds and five blocks for the top-seeded Spartans, who avenged last year’s championship game loss to ETSU.

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UNCG (27-7) prevailed despite a poor shooting night from leading scorer and tournament most valuable player Francis Alonso, who was held to six points on two-of-11 shooting.

Jalan McLoud led ETSU (25-9) with 15 points and eight rebounds.

UNC Greensboro came in with the No. 1 defense in the Southern Conference and showed why, holding ETSU to 30.6% shooting. The Buccaneers made only three of 16 three-point shots.

Iona 83, Fairfield 71: Roland Griffin scored a career-high 29 points at Albany, N.Y., Zach Lewis added 20 and the Gaels won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament championship for the third year in a row, earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The fourth-seeded Gaels (20-13) extended their conference record to 11 tournament titles. Sixth-seeded Fairfield (17-16) had won seven consecutive games and was seeking its fourth title.

Iona’s path to its sixth consecutive MAAC championship game was made much easier when the top three seeded teams — Rider, Canisius and Niagara — were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

It was the first time since 2002 that the top three failed to make the semifinals, and the Gaels took advantage.

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