College basketball tournaments roundup: Duke beats FSU for ACC title; Vermont denies UMBC repeat; Iowa State romps past Kansas
Zion Williamson had 21 points to cap a dominating three-game show at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, helping fifth-ranked Duke beat No. 12 Florida State 73-63 on Saturday night in the championship game.
RJ Barrett added 17 points and nine rebounds and the Blue Devils (29-5) took control after halftime to add to their conference-record total with their 21st tournament title.
And point guard Tre Jones had his own strong outing, part of Duke’s closing act that showed the Blue Devils — with Williamson healthy after missing nearly six full games with a knee sprain — are ready for their NCAA Tournament push.
Duke shot 58 percent after the break, turning a 36-all score into a 14-point lead by midway through the half and then holding on.
Mfiondu Kabengele scored 14 points for the Seminoles (27-7). They upset No. 2 Virginia in Friday’s semifinals but couldn’t recover after falling behind big.
America East: Vermont 66, UMBC 49: Anthony Lamb scored 28 points, and Vermont beat Maryland-Baltimore County 66-49 on Saturday to win the America East Tournament championship and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
It was the seventh conference title overall and second in three years for the Catamounts (27-6), who lost to UMBC in last year’s championship game. They got their revenge on the anniversary of 16th-seeded UMBC’s shocking upset of top-seeded Virginia in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
Lamb, the America East player of the year, was named the tournament’s Most Oustanding Player. He went 8 for 16 from the field and had nine rebounds, and he led a strong defensive effort from the Catamounts, who held the Retrievers to 34-percent shooting.
Stef Smith added 17 points for Vermont and Ben Shungu scored nine, all in the second half. K.J. Jackson led UMBC (21-13) with 15 points, and Arkel Lamar had eight points and 11 rebounds.
Lamb hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half to start an 11-0 run that put Vermont ahead 39-22.
Both teams got off to slow starts. UMBC missed its first six field-goal attempts and hit only five of its first 16, while Vermont was 7 for 21, missing its first six 3-point attempts. Lamb scored 12 of Vermont’s first 18 points and had 19 by halftime, when the Catamounts led 28-20.
Big 12: Iowa State 78, Kansas 66: Something about the Big 12 Tournament brings out the best in Iowa State.
The fifth-seeded Cyclones raced to a big early lead against No. 17 Kansas, then leaned on some balanced scoring and enough stops down the stretch to beat the Jayhawks 78-66 on Saturday night and remain unbeaten in five championship game appearances.
Lindell Wigginton had 17 points, Marial Shayok had 15 and Michael Jacobson 14 for the Cyclones (23-11). They became the lowest-seeded team ever to win the conference tournament and improved to 2-0 against Kansas (25-9) in the finals.
Dedric Lawson had 18 points and Devon Dotson added 17 for the third-seeded Jayhawks, whose last chance to win some hardware will be the NCAA Tournament. Their run of 14 consecutive regular-season crowns ended last weekend, and they failed to defend their Big 12 Tournament title.
Big East: Villanova 74, Seton Hall 72: Villanova became the first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournaments, beating Seton Hall 74-72 on Saturday night behind seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth and key contributions from freshman Saddiq Bey.
Seton Hall star Myles Powell, guarded closely by Booth, missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that could have won it. Booth was called for traveling as he tried to corral the rebound, however, and the Pirates got one more chance with 0.4 seconds left. Anthony Nelson’s long inbounds pass bounced off the backboard and was slapped away by the Wildcats, who got to party on the Madison Square Garden floor yet again.
The 25th-ranked and top-seeded Wildcats (25-9) were in the Big East final for a fifth straight year, and have won four of the last five championships. The only loss during that span was to Seton Hall in 2016, and Powell and the third-seeded Pirates (20-13) gave Villanova all it could handle once again.
Powell scored 25 points to cap a spectacular three days at Madison Square Garden for the high-scoring guard.
Paschall had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Booth scored 16 points and was selected most outstanding player of the tournament. Bey, who Villanova fans hope will lead the next wave of championship teams, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Big Sky: Montana 68, Eastern Washington 62: Sayeed Pridgett scored 18 points and Montana overcame a 12-point deficit to beat Eastern Washington 68-62 on Saturday night for its second straight Big Sky Tournament title and NCAA bid.
Donaven Dorsey and Michael Oguine each added 12 points for Montana (26-8). The Grizzlies also beat the Eagles (16-18) last year in the final.
Jesse Hunt led Eastern Washington with 17 points, and Kim Aiken Jr. had 14.
Playing with a smaller lineup of five guards, Montana took its first lead midway through the second half.
Conference USA: Old Dominion 62, Western Kentucky 56: Xavier Green scored 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half to lead Old Dominion to a 62-56 victory over Western Kentucky in the Conference USA Tournament championship game on Saturday night.
Top-seeded Old Dominion (26-8), the eighth-stingiest scoring defense in the latest NCAA statistics (61.2 points per game), won three tournament games by a total of nine points to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011. Western Kentucky (20-14) was the second seed.
With ODU trailing 37-34, Green made a traditional three-point play to tie the game and added two 3-pointers for the lead.
WKU came back to tie the game at 47-47 before C-USA Player of the Year B.J. Stith scored to break the tie. Green added another 3-pointer for a 54-48 lead and the Hilltoppers didn’t move within four points after that.
Stith scored 13 points and teammate Ahmad Caver had 10 to go with nine assists. Charles Bassey led WKU with 12 points, Josh Anderson scored 11 and Jared Savage had 10.
Mid-American Conference: Buffalo 87, Bowling Green 73: Jeremy Harris scored 31 points, C.J. Massinburg added 17 and No. 18 Buffalo won its fourth Mid-American Conference title in five years — and further stamped itself as a team to fear in the NCAA Tournament — by beating Bowling Green 87-73 on Saturday night.
The top-seeded Bulls (31-3), who dominated the MAC during the regular season, withstood a strong effort by the Falcons (22-12), one of three teams to beat Buffalo during the regular season.
But the Bulls showed their championship poise down the stretch and completed a three-day sweep at Quicken Loans Arena, a friendly home away from home for the past few years.
Buffalo’s five-year run atop the league is unprecedented in MAC history, and the title only boosts a resume that should make the Bulls the highest ever seeded MAC team when the NCAA brackets are unveiled Sunday.
Harris, a silky smooth left-hander, went 13 of 20 and was named the tournament’s MVP.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: North Carolina Central 50, Norfolk State 47: Zacarry Douglas scored all 10 of his points during a 25-6 second-half run and North Carolina Central won its third consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament with a 50-47 victory against top-seeded Norfolk State on Saturday.
The Eagles (18-15) earned another trip to the NCAA Tournament despite missing nine of their last 10 shots and not scoring for the final 4:03.
Mastadi Pitt scored 14 points and C.J. Kelly 13 for Norfolk State (21-13). The Spartans had a last chance to tie, but after taking a timeout with 8.8 seconds left, they had to settle for a heavily contested desperation heave by Pitt at the buzzer.
The Spartans closed the first half on a 20-8 run and led 32-22 at the break. It was 34-22 after Alex Long’s jumper to open second-half scoring, but Jordan Perkins’ 3-pointer started the 25-6 spurt. Perkins had seven points in the run that gave the Eagles a 47-38 lead with 8:18 to play.
The Spartans trailed 50-42 after Jibri Blount’s basket for the Eagles with 4:03 left, but got only a driving basket by Steven Whitley and three free throws by Jordan Butler the rest of the way as they missed seven of their last eight shots.
Mountain West: Utah State 64, San Diego State 57: Sam Merrill scored 24 points, Neemias Queta had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Utah State won its first Mountain West Conference championship with a 64-57 victory over San Diego State on Saturday.
Utah State (28-6) scored the first 13 points of the second half to pull away after leading 34-32 at halftime. The Aggies, who joined the conference in 2013-14, were the No. 2 seeds after sharing the regular-season title with No. 14 Nevada.
Merrill, who went 11 of 12 from the free throw line, was the tournament’s MVP. Abel Porter had 10 points for the Aggies, who have won 10 straight and 17 of their last 18 games.
Fourth-seeded San Diego State got no closer than five points on two occasions after Utah State’s run, cutting it to 60-55 in the final minute. But Merrill responded by hitting two free throws with 43 seconds left to seal it.
Devin Watson scored 18 points in a game the Aztecs (21-13) in all likelihood needed to win to make the NCAA Tournament.
Even though the Aggies led for 12 minutes, 15 seconds of the first half, there were 10 lead changes and seven ties in the session. Neither team could build more than Utah State’s five-point advantage.
Southland: Abilene Christian 77, New Orleans 60: Jaren Lewis had 20 points and six rebounds, Jaylen Franklin added 16 points and six assists and Abilene Christian beat New Orleans 77-60 on Saturday night in the Southland Conference championship game for its first NCAA Tournament berth.
Lewis shot 10 of 17 from the field. Hayden Farquhar had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Joe Pleasant scored 14 points for Abilene Christian (27-6). The Wildcats won their sixth straight, shooting 56 percent.
The Wildcat have been in Division I for six years and were making their first appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament. They last won a conference championship in 1987, taking the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference championship.
Bryson Robinson scored 14 points, and Scott Plaisance added 13 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans (19-13). The Privateers were looking for their second NCAA Tournament berth in three years and sixth overall after advancing to the tournament in 2017. New Orleans shot 40 percent and committed 20 turnovers.
SWAC: Prairie A&M 92, Texas Southern 86: Gary Blackston and Dennis Jones scored 17 points apiece to lead six Prairie View A&M players in double figures and the Panthers beat Texas Southern 92-86 on Saturday night in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
Prairie View earned its second NCAA Tournament berth and first since 1998.
Gerard Andrus had 12 points, Taishaun Johnson and Darius Williams scored 11 apiece and Devonte Patterson added 10 for the top-seeded Panthers (22-12), who have won 11 games in a row.
Patterson made 1 of 2 free throws and Jones added a layup to put Prairie View in front 83-81, the last of 15 lead changes, with 2:11 left. Trayvon Reed’s layup with 38 seconds to go made it 85-all but the Panthers went 7 of 8 from the foul line, and TSU committed two turnovers, from there to seal it.
Jalyn Patterson led Texas Southern (21-13) with 24 points, including 18 in the second half. Devocio Butler scored 18, Tyrik Armstrong added 16 and Jeremy Combs had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Combs, the SWAC player of the year, fouled out on the offensive end with two minutes remaining.
TSU had won the last two, and four of the last five, SWAC Tournaments.
WAC: New Mexico State 89, Grand Canyon State 57: Trevelin Queen scored 27 points and New Mexico State beat Grand Canyon 89-57 on Saturday night for its third straight Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth.
New Mexico State improved to 30-4 with its 19th straight victory, extending its program record for wins in a season. The Aggies have won seven of the last eight titles and nine overall, also beating Grand Canyon in the championship game last season.
Ivan Aurrecoechea scored 16 points and Clayton Henry added 14. The Aggies made 33 of 65 field goals, going 17 of 39 from 3-point range.
New Mexico improved to 13-2 against the Antelopes (20-13), the Phoenix school in its sixth year at the Division I level, and second being eligible to play for a berth into the NCAA Tournament. Alessandro Lever led Grand Canyon with 17 points, and Damari Milstead added 11.
After opening with just one field goal in the first five minutes, and falling behind 10-2, New Mexico State responded with a flurry of 3-pointers, hitting four during a 24-11 run — including three from Queen.
After hitting eight of their first 15 field goal attempts, the Lopes closed the half missing 12 of 15. They finished the first half shooting 36.7, including 6 of 18 from beyond the 3-point arc.
NCAA Automatic Bids
Abilene Christian, Southland Conference
Bradley, Missouri Valley Conference
Buffalo, Mid-American Conference
Colgate, Patriot League
Duke, Atlantic Coast Conference
Fairleigh Dickinson, Northeast Conference
Gardner-Webb, Big South Conference
Iona, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Iowa State, Big 12 Conference
Liberty, Atlantic Sun Conference
Montana, Big Sky Conference
Murray State, Ohio Valley Conference
N.C. Central, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
New Mexico State, Western Athletic Conference
North Dakota State, Summit League
Northeastern, Colonial Athletic Association
Northern Kentucky, Horizon League
Old Dominion, Conference USA
Oregon, Pacific-12 Conference
Prairie View A&M, Southwestern Athletic Conference
Saint Mary’s, West Coast Conference
Utah State, Mountain West Conference
Vermont, America East Conference
Villanova, Big East Conference
Wofford, Southern Conference
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