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College basketball: Drexel, Cleveland State clinch NCAA tournament bids

Drexel celebrates after a win over Elon in the Colonial Athletic Association men's tournament championship.
Drexel celebrates after a win over Elon in the Colonial Athletic Association men’s tournament championship in Harrisonburg, Va. on Tuesday.
(Daniel Lin / Associated Press)

Mate Okros scored 14 points with four 3-pointers and sixth-seeded Drexel is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years after defeating eighth-seeded Elon 63-56 in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament on Tuesday night.

The Dragons, whose last NCAA appearance came in 1996 as a member of the America East Conference, were 10 of 17 from 3-point range and went 29 of 51 in their three wins.

Xavier Bell added 11 points, and was one of three players with two 3s for Drexel (12-7), which played four games at James Madison’s Atlantic Union Bank Center this season and only two at home due to COVID issues.

Hunter McIntosh scored 19 points for Elon (10-9), which had its seven-game winning streak end in a bid to be the first team to win four straight in the CAA tourney. Ikenna Ndugba added 16 points for the Phoenix, who have never been to the Division I Big Dance.

Elon beat top-seeded James Madison by one in the quarterfinals and defending champion Hofstra by 18 in the semifinals.

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Elon was within 57-53 following a McIntosh 3 with 1:02 to play but the Dragons went 6 for 6 from the foul line, making them 16 for 16 in the final minute of its last two games.

Drexel is now 8-7 against Elon but they didn’t play this season because of COVID issues.

Drexel took a 32-27 halftime lead, making 6 of 11 from 3-point range to 1 of 8 for the Phoenix. Okros hit 3 of 4 from distance and Zach Walton hit one from the left corner in the closing seconds for the Dragons.

Neither team shot a free throw in the first half but Drexel was 11 of 14 in the second when Elon was 2 of 3.

Horizon League

Torrey Patton had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Tre Gomillion added 16 points and 13 rebounds, and top-seeded Cleveland State beat Oakland 80-69 on Tuesday night in the Horizon League championship for the program’s third NCAA Tournament berth.

Cleveland State (19-7) snapped a string of four straight 20-loss seasons this year to win its first conference title since 2009 — when it upset No. 4 seed Wake Forest in the NCAAs. The Vikings also reached the Sweet Sixteen as a 14-seed in 1986, losing 71-70 to All-America center David Robinson and Navy.

D’Moi Hodge added 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for Cleveland State. Patton, who entered averaging 22 points, 13 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the tournament, was 9 of 16 from the field and also had four assists.

Cleveland State led by double figures for 19 minutes in the second half. Oakland was within 10 points with 2:35 to go, but Patton scored the next five points and Hodge dunked it for a 17-point lead at 1:03.

Jalen Moore scored 22 points with seven assists for third-seeded Oakland (12-18), which was seeking its fourth trip to the NCAAs — last going in 2011. Rashad Williams, a Cleveland State transfer, scored 14 points to become the fourth transfer to reach 1,000 career points as a Golden Grizzly. Zion Young added 14 points and Micah Parrish had 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Cleveland State needed three overtimes to beat Purdue Fort Wayne in the quarterfinals last Tuesday, winning 108-104 to overcome 16 3-pointers by the Mastodons. After a week off, the Vikings rallied from 11-points down in the second half to beat Milwaukee in the semifinals Monday.

Northeast Conference

Damian Chong Qui scored 21 points and Malik Jefferson scored 10 with 15 rebounds and Mount St. Mary’s stunned Bryant 73-68 on Tuesday night in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game and clinched an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

It’s Mount St. Mary’s (12-10) sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament. Bryant (15-6), which entered Tuesday’s game undefeated at home this season, has yet to make an appearance in the big dance.

The Mount was NEC’s No. 4 seed and Bryant was second seeded.

Chong Qui scored nine straight points, but despite that, Bryant cut into the Mountaineers lead and drew to within 54-53 on Charles Pride’s layup with 7:20 left. Mount St. Mary’s proceeded to go on an 11-2 run for a 10-point advantage with 3:27 left. Pride later buried consecutive 3-pointers, and his layup with 18 seconds left reduced Bryant’s deficit to 70-68. But Nana Opoku, a 45% foul shooter on the season, calmly sank a pair and sealed the Bulldog’s fate.

Opoku scored 18 points and Mezie Offurum 16 for the Mountaineers.

Pride scored a career-high 33 points and finished a point away from scoring half of Bryant’s 68 points. He made 8-of-12 3s but the rest of the team went 0 for 13 from beyond the arc. Peter Kiss scored 12 for Bryant.

The game marked Mount St. Mary’s eighth appearance in the NEC championship game since joining the league in 1989-90. Mount St. Mary’s won the championship game in 1995, 1999, 2008, 2014 and 2017.

Summit League

Max Abmas scored 23 points, Francis Lacis made a game-saving block and steal, and No. 4-seed Oral Roberts beat third-seeded North Dakota State 75-72 on Tuesday night in the Summit League tournament championship.

It’s the first tournament title for Oral Roberts since 2007-08 and the first league championship since Oakland’s in 2010-11 that doesn’t include South Dakota State or North Dakota State.

Rocky Kreuser’s layup capped a 14-4 run by the Bison that tied the game at 72 with 39 seconds to play. Abmas made the second of two free throws with 14.6 remaining. On the other end, Sam Griesel had possession in the corner and tried to drive the lane, but Lacis smothered his layup attempt with 2.2 seconds to go.

D’Mauria Jones added two free throws for Oral Roberts. The Bison heaved the ensuing inbound pass across midcourt to Kreuser, but it was deflected to Lacis.

Kevin Obanor, whose put-back at the buzzer beat top-seeded South Dakota State in a semifinal, had 21 points and nine rebounds for Oral Roberts (16-10). Kareem Thompson added 12 points.

Kreuser scored a career-high 34 points to lead North Dakota State (15-12). Tyree Eady had 15 points. Griesel finished with just six points on 1-of-12 shooting but had 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Oral Roberts built a 45-20 halftime lead and never trailed in the second half.


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