Ticket Punched: 13-19 Cal Poly knocks off Cal State Northridge to clinch first tourney berth in school historyThe Dagger14 mins ago
The automatic bid that comes with winning a conference tournament provides teams with a last-ditch hope of landing in the NCAA tournament. Cal Poly is the perfect example of that.
A three-ball from the top of the key by 6-foot true freshman guard Ridge Shipley with 14 seconds left in the Big West Championship clinched an improbable tourney berth for Mustangs, who outlasted Cal State Northridge 61-59 Saturday night.
The win meant that the 13-19 Mustangs, the No. 7 seed in the eight-team tournament, were going dancing for the first time in school history. The Mustangs had lost nine of their last 11 regular season games and entered the conference tournament with a putrid 10-19 (6-10 Big West) overall record.
They started tournament play by demolishing No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara (21-9, 12-4 Big West) 69-38 just five days after UCSB beat the Mustangs by 16 points in the regular season finale. Then on Friday, the Mustangs knocked off top-seeded UC Irvine (23-11, 13-3 Big West) by a mere three points to reach the final.
- Kyle Ringo at The Dagger47 mins ago
Iowa State missed its first 13 shots Saturday night in the Big 12 Conference tournament championship game against Baylor's 2-3 zone. But with three of the conference's top-10 scorers in the lineup, the dryspell didn't figure to last long.
The Cyclones managed to keep themselves within striking distance in the first half and came storming down the stretch to win their first conference title since 2000 beating the Bears 74-65 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Iowa State is one of the nation's most prolific offensive teams and the Cyclones proved it scoring 47 points in the second half. They still managed to shoot 50 percent in the game despite those first 13 misses. Deandre Kane led the Cyclones with 17 points and Georges Niang scored 13 with nine rebounds one day after leaving a semifinal win over Kansas with a cut over his right eye. Numerous Iowa State fans were spotted in the stands wearing bandaids above their right eyes in solidarity with Niang.
- Christopher Wilson at The Dagger2 hrs ago
NEW YORK — Providence came into Madison Square Garden on the wrong side of the bubble. After Bryce Cotton and a stifling Providence zone were done on Saturday night, they left with a 65-58 win and their first Big East title in two decades.
On a night that many thought would belong to Doug McDermott, it was Cotton who took home the Dave Gavitt Trophy as the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. The senior point guard from Arizona has been the lynchpin of coach Ed Cooley’s program during his time in Providence, making the All-Big East First Team the last two years, playing more minutes than any other player in the country this season and leading the conference in assists.
“I told Cotton Candy if he didn’t shoot the ball, we were going to have a one-on-one fight and I was going to lose,” said Cooley after the game. His threat was acknowledged, even though Cotton hadn’t shot it well the previous two games. [Get a chance at $1 billion: Register to play the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge now!]
- Sam Cooper at The Dagger2 hrs ago
Stephen F. Austin (31-2) won its 28th consecutive game and finished off its perfect Southland Conference record in a convincing 68-49 win over Sam Houston State (23-10).
The Lumberjacks, who have not lost since November 23, used a strong defensive effort and balanced scoring attack that featured five different players scoring at least seven points. Sophomore guard Thomas Walkup led the way with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists while shooting 8-of-10 from the field.
Senior Deshaunt Walker scored 12 off the bench and Southland Conference player of the year Jacob Parker notched a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards.
The Lumberjacks shot 49 percent from the field to earn the school’s first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2009. SFA only led by five points at halftime, but scored 10 of the first 13 points in half two to extend the lead. Sam Houston never cut the lead closer than 14 points for the rest of the game.
Ticket Punched: Seniors Brown and Whittington lead Western Michigan past Toledo and into NCAA tournamentSam Cooper at The Dagger3 hrs ago
Behind the efforts of two standout seniors and a surprising freshman, the Western Michigan Broncos (23-9, 14-4) took down Toledo 98-77 to win the Mid-American Conference tournament championship game and clinch an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
WMU seniors David Brown (32 points) and Shayne Whittington (20 points), both first team All-MAC, combined for 52 points to help the Broncos to win the school’s first MAC title since 2004. True freshman Tucker Haymond, who averaged only 6.5 points per game this season, came through in the clutch with a career-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 4-of-6 from three. [Get a chance at $1 billion: Register to play the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge now!]
The 6-foot-11 Whittington, who is considered a fringe NBA prospect, pulled down 13 boards to register his 15th double-double of the season.
This was the third time the Broncos and Rockets squared off this season. The two teams were the top two teams in the conference all season and had split the first two meetings.
- Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger3 hrs ago
LAS VEGAS --- The difference between elation and dejection for UCLA on Saturday night essentially came down to deceiving one of the nation's best perimeter defenders.
When Kyle Anderson drove right around a Jordan Adams top-of-the-key screen with the score tied and less than 50 seconds remaining, the UCLA point guard's job was to lure his screener's defender into trying to cut off his path to the rim. Arizona guard Nick Johnson took two steps to his left and could not recover in time, giving Adams the space to catch a pass from Anderson, set his feet and bury a 3-pointer that propelled UCLA to a scintillating 75-71 Pac-12 title game victory.
"It's a really hard play to guard," Adams said. "Nick has to help on Kyle or Kyle has a straight line to the basket. When they both help, I'm wide-open for a kickback. I looked back and once I saw Nick help, I got my feet set and focused on the shot."
Adams' 3-pointer was the signature moment of a UCLA victory that signals the Bruins (26-8) may be a team to be feared in the NCAA tournament.
Ticket Punched: North Carolina Central wins MEAC tournament to clinch school's first NCAA tournament berthSam Cooper at The Dagger4 hrs ago
Senior guard Jeremy Ingram, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the year, scored 29 points to lead North Carolina Central to its first NCAA tournament berth in school history in a 71-62 win over Morgan State.
Junior forward Karamo Jawara, a native of Norway, registered 10 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Eagles. Senior guard Alfonzo Houston hit 7-of-8 free throw attempts and added nine points in the win, the team’s 20th in a row. [Get a chance at $1 billion: Register to play the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge now!]
The 6-foot-3 Ingram averaged 20.3 points per game for the 28-5 Eagles, good for 19th best in the country coming into Saturday’s conference title game. N.C. Central was the No. 1 seed in the MEAC tournament and had knocked off Howard by 46 in the quarterfinals and Norfolk State by 23 in the semifinals on Friday.
Ian Chiles (26 points) did all he could to keep the third-seeded Bears close, but N.C. Central hit 25 of 30 second half free throws to hold the Bears off.
- Kyle Ringo at The Dagger5 hrs ago
Louisville is playing its best basketball of the season at the right time and its best basketball is scary good.
The defending national champion Cardinals finished off a remarkable four-game run of blowouts Saturday by winning the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship 71-61 over Connecticut in a game that wasn't as close as the final margin indicates. The Huskies were victimized twice in those four games by the Cardinals, who will likely go into the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 or 4 seed because of a weak nonconference schedule.
With Louisville playing like a No. 1 seed late in the season, it is unquestionably the team no opponent is going to want to be paired against when the NCAA bracket is released Sunday.
- Kyle Ringo at The Dagger6 hrs ago
Former Indiana and Alabama-Birmingham coach Mike Davis is back in the NCAA tournament, this time with one of the best big men in the country at his disposal.
Davis, who has now led all three teams he has coached to the NCAA tournament, watched center Aaric Murray score 27 points with 10 rebounds while blocking four shots in 78-73 victory over surprising Prairie View A&M in the SWAC championship game.
Prairie View advanced to the title game despite winning just eight regular season games. The Panthers actually led at halftime and would have been the worst team record-wise ever to earn and NCAA berth had they won.
Texas Southern last earned a spot in the NCAA tournament in 2003. This will be its fifth trip and the Tigers are looking for the first win in the program's history. Davis is in his second season coaching the Tigers.
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- Sam Cooper at The Dagger7 hrs ago
Washington and Texas will square off in the first ever American regular season game, professional or collegiate, played in China, the Pac-12 conference announced Saturday. The game will be played on Nov. 13, 2015 (Nov. 13 in the U.S.) and will be televised live on ESPN.
According to a press release from the conference, the game in China is part of the Pac-12’s effort to showcase itself on a global level. The Pac-12’s “Globalization Initiative” launched in 2011 and has featured trips to China for exhibitions and clinics by several Pac-12 basketball teams and an all-star women’s volleyball team.
“The Pac-12 and our universities are proud to be pioneers in China” said commissioner Larry Scott. “The event is a great step forward for our initiative designed to use sport and cultural exchange to support the international strategies that many of our universities have embarked on to extend their reach into China and promote good will between our two countries.”