Saturday, March 14, 2015

UC Irvine: 2014-15 Big West Men's Basketball Champions


ANAHEIM, Calif. >> The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors could not close the deal on UC Irvine and the Big West Conference tournament.
UH led for the whole first half and was even with the Anteaters through 30 minutes of play but third-seeded UCI pulled away late to defeat UH 67-58 on Saturday night at the Honda Center.
Now the Rainbows (22-13) wait to hear if they will play in a postseason tournament like the NIT or CIT, or if their season is over.
The Honda crowd of about 3,000 was comprised about two-thirds of UCI fans, but UH had vocal support as well.
Guard Luke Nelson led the second-half Anteater comeback with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
For UH, forward Aaron Valdes scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half. Garrett Nevels scored 14 on 6-for-12 shooting.
UH was swept by UCI home-and-home during the regular season, and the Anteaters did it without their 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye, the tallest player in college basketball. This time Ndiaye was an imposing presence in the paint.
An early 13-point lead dwindled to two in the final minute of the first half. UH settled for a four-point halftime advantage -- which disappeared immediately to start the second period.
The teams battled evenly through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Irvine claimed its first lead, 42-40, on a short hook shot by Ioannis Dimakopoulos.
Point guard Roderick Bobbitt picked UCI's pocket in the open court -- his 100th steal of the season -- and took it in for a layup to tie it back up. Isaac Fleming followed with a strong take as recaptured the lead, 45-43.
Mike Thomas sank a 17-footer from the baseline for a 47-44 UH advantage. But the Anteaters then rolled off eight straight points to take a 52-47 lead.
Valdes ended the run with a deep 3-pointer from the wing to cut it to 52-50 with three minutes left. But it was just about all UCI from there.
UH scorched the nets for the first seven minutes of the game, jumping out to a 20-7 start by hitting on four of five 3-pointers, similar to what the Rainbows did in their semifinal win over top-seeded UC Davis.
Alex Young sank a pull-up jumper to cut it to 31-29.
Valdes hit a tough runner to make it 33-29 and Jankovic stripped Will Davis II at the other end to preserve the four-point halftime lead.
Valdes had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting and five rebounds in the period. 

New Mexico State: 2014-15 Western Athletic Men's Basketball Champions

The New Mexico State Aggies lived up to their billing as the best team in the Western Athletic Conference, beating the Seattle Redhawks 80-61 in the 2015 WAC Tournament Final at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, earning an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
It is the fourth consecutive NCAA bid for New Mexico State and fifth tourney trip in the last six years, all under head coach Marvin Menzies.
New Mexico State started the game on a 9-0 run, led by as many as 13 points in the first half and never looked back.
Senior forward Remi Barry paced New Mexico State with 21 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. Tshilidzi Nephawe had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Aggies, who shot 52.5 percent on the night and outrebounded the Redhawks, 26-20.
Seattle senior guard Isiah Umipig, who tied a conference tournament record with eight three-pointers in the Redhawks' semifinal win over Missouri-Kansas City in the semifinal round on Friday, was held to 13 points on just 2-of-7 shooting on Saturday.
William Powell led Seattle (16-15) with 14 points and eight rebounds in defeat before fouling out with 3:17 to play.
The Aggies rolled through the regular season at 13-1 in the WAC, with their only conference loss coming Jan. 17 at Seattle. But that was the last loss for New Mexico State (23-10), which enters the tournament on a 13-game winning streak.

Arizona: 2014-15 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Champions


LAS VEGAS — Arizona men’s basketball beat Oregon 80-52 to win its first conference tournament championship since 2002.
The top seeded Wildcats won their 11th game in a row to win the Pac-12 Tournament Championship on Saturday.
UA forward Brandon forward Ashley, forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, point guard T.J. McConnell and forward Stanley Johnson were on the all-tournament team. Ashley was named the tourney’s most valuable player.
Ashley scored 20 points and had five rebounds on Saturday. Johnson scored 14 points and grabbed three rebounds.

Stephen F. Austin: 2014-15 Southland Men's Basketball Champions



































































































































Katy, TX (KLTV) -Knowing what was at stake, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team took care of business in the Southland Conference tournament title game by knocking off rival Sam Houston State 83 to 70.

With the win, the Jacks have clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. In the victory over the Bearkats, SFA led by 10 points at the half and by as many as 16 in the second half.

Thomas Walkup, the SLC player of the year, led SFA with 24 points, while pulling down eight rebounds. Jacob Parker chipped in 11 points, and Jared Johnson added 17.

The Jacks will find out on Sunday who they will face in the NCAA Tournament.

Eastern Washington: 2014-15 Big Sky Men's Basketball Champions


MISSOULA, Mont. -- Tyler Harvey scored 18 points and Eastern Washington beat Montana 69-65 in the Big Sky championship game Saturday night to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Felix Van Hofe made a 3-pointer to cap a 14-2 run and give the Eagles (26-8) a 62-61 lead with 2:10 to go. Harvey completed a three-point play with 43 seconds left to make it 67-63.
Drew Brandon added 16 points for Eastern Washington.
Martin Breunig led Montana (20-12) with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Mike Weisner had 18 points, and Jordan Gregory 16.
The victory was the Eagles' first over the Grizzlies in the conference tournament.

Notre Dame: 2014-15 ACC Men's Basketball Champions


GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Jerian Grant scored 24 points and No. 11 Notre Dame took over with a 26-3 second-half run to rally past No. 19 North Carolina 90-82 on Saturday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
Pat Connaughton added 20 points for the third-seeded Irish (29-5). They went from trailing by nine to up double figures with a stunning burst that seized momentum in what amounted to a road game and sent the program to its first title in any league.
Connaughton came up with a pair of 3s during Notre Dame's go-ahead run, with the Irish getting into a fast-paced, free-flowing attack set loose by a few ill-timed turnovers by the Tar Heels (24-11).
When it was over, Notre Dame had turned a 63-54 deficit into an 80-66 lead on Connaughton's dunk with 2:54 and largely silenced a home-state UNC crowd featuring plenty of blue in the Greensboro Coliseum seats.

Villanova: 2014-15 Big East Men's Basketball Champions


NEW YORK -- Josh Hart had 15 points in his latest brilliant performance off the bench, and top-seeded Villanova turned the Big East championship game into a Saturday night blowout by beating Xavier 69-52 for its second tournament title.
Looking to lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, the fourth-ranked Wildcats (32-2) made an impressive statement much to the delight of a pro-Villanova crowd at Madison Square Garden.
After squeezing past Providence 63-61 with the help of a questionable call in Friday night's semifinals, Villanova had no such trouble against the sixth-seeded Musketeers (21-13).
Dylan Ennis scored 16 points and Darrun Hilliard had 12, sending the Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament on a 15-game winning streak. They'll find out Sunday if the selection committee rewards them with one of the four top seeds.

Buffalo: 2014-15 Mid-American Men's Basketball Champions


CLEVELAND -- Xavier Ford and Shannon Evans scored 18 points apiece as Buffalo, coached by March Madness icon Bobby Hurley, earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament by beating top-seeded Central Michigan 89-84 in the Mid-American Conference championship on Saturday night.
The second-seeded Bulls (23-9) earned their first league title and the automatic NCAA bid that comes with it. They're in the brackets along with Hurley, their fiery coach and former Duke point guard, who led the Blue Devils to three straight Final Fours and consecutive national titles in 1991 and 1992.
Chris Fowler scored 27 points for the top-seeded Chippewas (23-8), who won just three conference games and were the No. 11 seed a year ago.
Lamonte Bearden added 13 points for Buffalo, playing in its third MAC title game. Buffalo won its first crown despite getting just 10 points from Justin Moss, the MAC's player of the year slowed by an ankle injury.

UAB: 2014-15 Conference USA Men's Basketball Champions


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- UAB coach Jerod Haase couldn't get his team to execute properly -- in the postgame celebration, that is.
Just snip a little piece of the net and hand over the scissors, guys.
Robert Brown scored 22 points to lead UAB, which executed everything else just fine, to a 73-60 victory Saturday over Middle Tennessee for the Blazers' first Conference USA tournament championship.
"The biggest problem we had was when we started cutting down the net," said Haase, who had to run through the drill a few times. "That means it's a pretty good day, because we didn't have a whole lot of problems on the court."
The Blazers (19-15) earned their first NCAA tournament trip since 2011 with a team largely built on underclassmen and without a first- or second-team all-conference pick.
Middle Tennessee (19-16) never made much of a dent in UAB's 11-point halftime lead, which the Blazers eventually doubled.
UAB hit 64 percent from the floor (14-of-22) in the second half and finished with nine 3-pointers.
Brown, the tournament MVP, made half of his eight 3-point attempts. Freshman William Lee was 6-of-8 shooting for 13 points.
Jaqawn Raymond led Middle Tennessee with 12 points. Perrin Buford had 11 points after scoring 29 in the last meeting, which UAB won in triple overtime on Feb. 28.
"No question UAB played like an NCAA tournament team," Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis said. "If they get the right seed, they can win a tournament game. Had great guard play. Their inside guys were terrific, and they beat us in every aspect."
Brown and UAB never cooled off after opening the tournament with a one-point win over Western Kentucky and an overtime victory over top-seeded Louisiana Tech, which had erased a 10-point halftime deficit.
"We let Louisiana Tech come back in the game," said Brown, a Virginia Tech transfer. "We just tried to come out and play a 40-minute game instead of a 30-minute game."
With 10 underclassmen, Haase borrowed a message from someone who had spoken to the team during his pregame talk: It's about maintaining good habits, not rising to the occasion for a big game.
"I told the guys before the game, 'We have built good habits, we have done a good job, and tonight we're going to fall back on those habits,'" Haase said.
The Blazers took a 55-39 lead with 11:25 to play with eight straight points after the lead briefly dipped into single digits. Brown started the run with a 3-pointer from the right corner and ended it with a second one from the left corner. Chris Cokley, the league's sixth man of the year, made a jump shot in between.
UAB didn't let up after building the big lead, making nine straight shots and pushing the cushion up to 22 points.
"They were the most physical team tonight," Buford said. "I just feel like we really did get away from what got us here."
STEPPING UP
The win came more than three months after UAB president Ray Watts announced the shutdown of the football program, prompting an outcry from Blazers fans after becoming bowl eligible for the first time in a decade. Some UAB fans chanted "Fire Ray Watts" even down to the final seconds.
The school's signature sport, meanwhile, made the NCAA field for the 15th time.
"I think it is something that can be a rallying cry and a unifying thing for Birmingham and the athletic department," Haase said.
MARATHON TRIP
Davis isn't buying into the theory that Middle Tennessee was worn out playing its fourth game in as many days.
"I don't think we were tired," he said. "I think UAB just made us look tired."
TIP-INS
UAB: Lost its first two C-USA title game appearances in 2003 and 2006. Had assists on 21 of 27 baskets. Outrebounded MTSU 33-22.
Middle Tennessee: Fell to 0-3 in championship games since joining the league. Lost all three meetings with UAB this season. Made 5-of-10 3-pointers in the second half and nine in the game.
UP NEXT
UAB awaits NCAA tournament destination.
Middle Tennessee hopes for an NIT berth.

Northeastern: 2014-15 Colonial Men's Basketball Champions


BALTIMORE -- Perhaps sometime in the future, William & Mary will be able to cut down the nets to celebrate after winning the conference title and eagerly look forward to participating in the NCAA tournament.
On Monday night, as usual, the Tribe watched someone else do the honors.
Northeastern captured the Colonial Athletic Association championship with a 72-61 victory over top-seeded William & Mary, which failed again to earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament.
Quincy Ford scored 22 points and David Walker added 15 for the Huskies (23-11), who will be making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991.
That's a relatively short stretch compared to that of William & Mary (20-12), one of only five of the original Division I teams that has never participated in the NCAA tournament. The others: Army, Northwestern, St. Francis (NY) and The Citadel.
William & Mary was playing in its second straight CAA final and the fourth in eight years. The result of each of those games has been frustratingly identical.
"We're all heartbroken right now," coach Tony Shaver said. "We wanted to put that history stuff to rest, and we didn't. We'll live with that. But I do believe if we keep knocking on the door, the door's going to open."
Third-seeded Northeastern scored the game's first 10 points and never trailed in winning its first CAA title. The last time the Huskies made it to the NCAA tournament, they were champions of the North Atlantic Conference (now the America East).
Robbing William & Mary of another opportunity to reach the NCAA tournament didn't take any luster off the accomplishment.
"I was feeling for them last year when they had a chance," coach Bill Coen said. "But this was just our weekend. These guys were on a mission. They weren't going to be denied."
Marcus Thornton scored 20 for the Tribe, who trailed by 22 points with 3:39 left before making a run that came far too late.
"I wish we had that fight for 40 minutes tonight," Shaver lamented.
In the end, William & Mary couldn't come up with a suitable encore for its rousing 92-91 double-overtime win over Hofstra in the semifinals -- perhaps because the players were just too darn tired.
"I don't think there's any question that's a factor," Shaver said.
After falling behind 42-29 early in the second half, the Tribe held the Huskies scoreless for nearly 6 minutes while cutting the gap to seven points.
Caleb Donnelly ended the dry spell with a 3-pointer and Ford followed with a layup. After Sean Sheldon made a free throw on the other end, Walker connected from beyond the arc for Northeastern. Zach Stahl capped the 11-1 run with a three-point play to make it 53-36 with 9:07 remaining.
That silenced a crowd of 5,721 filled predominantly with William & Mary fans. Although the season ended in the same fashion as many that preceded it -- no trip to the NCAAs -- the Tribe will be headed to the NIT as conference champions.
Northeastern finished tied for the regular-season title but was seeded third behind William & Mary and UNC-Wilmington following the tiebreaking process.
Ford scored 15 points, making all three of his shots from beyond the arc, and the Huskies went 14 for 22 (64 percent) from the floor in taking a 36-26 halftime lead.
Northeastern raced to a 10-0 advantage on 4 for 4 shooting while the Tribe went 0 for 2 with a pair of turnovers. After that Shaver called a timeout, and the Tribe responded with a 15-5 run to pull even.
Minutes later, however, Scott Eatherton and Ford scored all the points in a 9-0 spurt that put the Huskies up 29-20.
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ALL-TOURNAMENT
Ford was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. The other members of the All-Tournament team were Eatherton and Walker, Thornton and teammate Omar Prewitt, and Hofstra's Juan'ya Green.
TIP INS
Northeastern: The last time the Huskies made it to the NCAA Tournament, they were at No. 16 seed and lost to Dean Smith's North Carolina team 101-66. ... Northeastern improved to 1-2 against No. 1 seeds in the CAA tournament. ... Lost in the shuffle of Sunday's game was that Walker became the 34th player in school history to reach 1,000 points.
William & Mary: The Tribe now trails the series with Northeastern 10-9. The teams each won once during the regular season. ... Coming off a career-high, 33-point performance Sunday in which he took 18 free throws, Prewitt was held scoreless in the first half, finished with four points on 1 for 7 shooting and went to the line just twice.
UP NEXT
Northeastern: NCAA Tournament.
William & Mary: NIT.