Advertisement
Sports

College basketball: Gonzaga wins WCC title over Saint Mary’s; North Dakota State wins Summit

Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert (24) drives around Saint Mary’s Tommy Kuhse (12) in the first half of the West Coast Conference men’s tournament final on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert (24) drives around Saint Mary’s Tommy Kuhse (12) in the first half of the West Coast Conference men’s tournament final on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Drew Timme scored 17 points, Filip Petrusev had a double-double and No. 2 Gonzaga beat rival Saint Mary’s 84-66 to reclaim the West Coast Conference tournament title Tuesday night.

The top-seeded Zags (31-2) bounced back from a middling performance in the semifinals to win their eighth WCC tournament title in 10 years.

Playing in its 23rd straight WCC title game, Gonzaga raced away from the Gaels in a dominating second half — and all but guaranteeing itself a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Petrusev finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds to help the Zags outscore Saint Mary’s 48-22 in the paint. Joel Ayayi also had 17 points.

Advertisement

Saint Mary’s (26-8) upset Gonzaga in last year’s title game to earn the WCC’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid and kept pace with the Zags in an entertaining first half this time.

Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts combined to score Saint Mary’s first 34 points to keep the Gaels close, but Gonzaga tightened up defensively in the second half to pull away.

Ford finished with 27 points and Fitts 17 for the Gaels, who should be in decent shape to make the NCAA Tournament despite the loss.

The Zags and Gaels eked their way into their 11th title-game meeting.

Advertisement

Gonzaga struggled putting away San Francisco in an 81-77 and Saint Mary’s advanced in the second semifinal with a 51-50 victory over No. 14 BYU on Ford’s last-second shot.

The Zags won the two regular-season meetings between the rivals by a combined 40 points on their way to claiming an eighth-straight WCC regular-season title.

Petrusev did most of the damage in the final game of the regular season, scoring 27 points.

It was Timme’s time in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-10 freshman repeatedly got deep post position against the Gaels and took advantage, hitting 7 of 8 shots for 15 points in the first half.

Ford and Fitts carried nearly all the load for Saint Mary’s, combining to score but seven of the Gaels’ first-half points.

Gonzaga led 42-41 at halftime.

The Bulldogs locked in on Ford, Fitts and the rest of the Gaels to start the second half, forcing them to miss six of their first eight shots while building a 56-46 lead.

A short run later in the half pushed Gonzaga’s lead to 72-55 and the Zags onto the stage to accept another WCC tournament trophy.

Advertisement

Horizon League

Jalen Tate tied one piece of the net to his championship hat Tuesday and hung the rest around his neck after earning another NCAA Tournament bid.

They will be the newest additions to the family’s trophy case — and he hopes not the last.

On Tuesday, Tate scored all of his 14 points in the first half, spent the second half doing the dirty work on defense while leading Northern Kentucky past UIC 71-62 for its second straight Horizon League Tournament title.

“It feels good to be back in the (NCAA) tournament, man, and with these guys it feels great,” he told the crowd moments after being named the tourney MVP. “And we’re not done, either.”

Northern Kentucky (23-9) has now made the 68-team field for the third time in four years.

For Tate, this victory helps him pull even with his father, Jermaine, and his older brother, Jae’Sean, with two NCAA appearances each. His brother and father both played at Ohio State though his dad eventually transferred to Cincinnati.

Jalen Tate wound up picking the smaller school across the Ohio River, where he has thrived.

In fact, winning the MVP Award and this year’s conference defensive player of the year award might even give the redshirt junior family bragging rights.

Advertisement

“I don’t think I’ll get too far into it, looking back,” he said, referring to the family competition. “But getting beaten up, bloodied, upset when I couldn’t get my shot off at seven or eight or nine, really prepared me for this. I don’t back down from any challenge. It put the toughness in me that I have today.”

He made that perfectly clear in Indianapolis, with his father watching every move.

Yes, Tate needed help in the second half as he battled foul trouble and he got it from a reliable source — Tyler Sharpe, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half.

But when the second-seeded Norse needed a defensive stopper after UIC trimmed a 15-point deficit to 42-38 with 14:03 to play, Tate came through. He played a key role in forcing the Flames (18-17) to miss eight consecutive shots and commit three turnovers over the next seven minutes.

That gave Northern Kentucky just enough time to score 11 straight points and rebuild a 53-40 lead. Fourth-seeded UIC never recovered.

“It was a high level game and it was a night some of our shots didn’t go down,” coach Steve McClain said. “Give NKU credit they played a great game.”

Tarkus Ferguson led UIC with 15 points and Michael Diggins.

Now, as for Tate, he and his teammates have even bigger plans.

“Nobody expects us to get this far and not finish it out,” Tate said.

Northeast Conference

Robert Morris used a second half surge to defeat league-rival Saint Francis, 77-67, Tuesday night in the Northeast Conference tournament championship.

With the victory, the Colonials have qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.

Dante Treacy, AJ Bramah, Josh Williams and Yannis Mendy all scored in double-figures as the top-seeded Colonials (20-14) extended a nine-point halftime lead to as much as 19 in the second half en route to a convincing win in front of an electric home crowd on Peoples Court at the UPMC Events Center.

Treacy finished with a career-high 18 points on 72% shooting (8 for 11), connecting on two of his four 3-point attempts and dishing five assists. The sophomore also added three rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes of play.

Williams ended with 17 points, while Bramah and Mendy each added 11. The Colonials shot 48% percent as a team, outrebounded Saint Francis 35-30 tallied 36 points in the paint. The Red Flash (22-10) shot a lowly 17% (3 of 17) from deep. The loss was just their second over the last 12 games - both coming against Robert Morris - within the last two weeks.

Robert Morris entered the NEC tournament as the No. 1 seed and is now NCAA tournament bound for the second time during Andy Toole’s 10-year tenure as head coach. The Red Flash entered the post-season tourney as the second seed.

CAA

Senior guard Eli Pemberton scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half and Hofstra came from behind to beat Northeastern 70-61 Tuesday night to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.

The top-seeded Pride (26-8) clinched the CAA’s automatic bid and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in program history. It’s Hofstra’s first CAA title.

Coach Joe Mihalich’s is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007, when he was at Niagara. Players sprayed Mihalich with water on stage after receiving the CAA trophy.

Senior Desure Buie scored a game-high 20 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Jalen Ray scored 17 points, and Isaac Kante grabbed 15 rebounds.

Hofstra trailed at halftime and used a 17-4 run to pull away. The Pride held conference leading scorer Jordan Roland to just 11 points.

Maxime Boursiquot led Northeastern with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Hofstra was nearly unstoppable during tournament play and delivered an 18-point drubbing of Drexel in the quarterfinals. The Pride scored another double-digit victory against Delaware in the semifinals when they didn’t miss a shot for the game’s first five minutes.

Summit League

Top-seeded North Dakota State led from start to finish and overwhelmed No. 6 North Dakota 89-53 in the Summit League Tournament championship game on Tuesday night and secured the automatic NCAA Tournament bid.

NDSU’s leading scorer, Vinnie Shahid, led the Bison with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Shahid entered the game averaging 18.2 points per game, but he blew by that early in the second half. Tyson Ward scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half for the Bison.

NDSU (25-8) raced to a 13-0 lead and had North Dakota down 21-2 in the first eight minutes of the game. The Bison continued to pour it on in the first half, building the lead to as many as 27 points at the break.

North Dakota State was never threatened the rest of the way and continued to build on the lead in the second half, pushing the margin to as many as 39 when Shahid scored to make it 86-47 with three minutes to play. NDSU shot 55% from the field.

The Bison used a solid defensive effort in the first half to create the big separation that North Dakota was never able to overcome. Down 26-7 with nine minutes to play, the Fighting Hawks were just 2 of 14 from the floor.

North Dakota’s Marlon Stewart entered the game as the league’s top scorer at 18.6 points per game, but struggled against the stingy NDSU defense in the early going. Stewart was just 2 of 8 from the floor with six points at halftime. He finished with 12 points and was never a factor. De’Sean Allen-Likens led the Fighting Hawks with 17 points.

NCAA bids

Teams that have clinched tournament berths:

Belmont, Ohio Valley

Bradley, Missouri Valley

East Tennessee State, Southern

Hofstra, Colonial

Liberty, Atlantic Sun

Northern Kentucky, Horizon

Robert Morris, Northeast

Utah State, Mountain West

Winthrop, Big South

North Dakota State, Summit

Gonzaga, West Coast


Newsletter
Go beyond the scoreboard

Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Advertisement