0

SoCon champ Wofford headed back to NCAA Tournament

Manhattan Jaspers guard/forward George Beamon (24) cuts down the net after defeating the Iona Gaels in the championship game of the MAAC Conference basketball tournament at Mass Mutual Center. Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Manhattan Jaspers guard/forward George Beamon (24) cuts down the net after defeating the Iona Gaels in the championship game of the MAAC Conference basketball tournament at Mass Mutual Center. Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The previous two league tournaments for Wofford ended in the opening round. In 2014, the Terriers got back to celebrating conference championships.

Karl Cochran scored 23 points, including five 3-pointers, and No. 3 seed Wofford never trailed in defeating Western Carolina 56-53 in the tournament title game Monday.

Wofford (20-12) won its third league crown in the last five seasons, while the fifth-seeded Catamounts had their NCAA drought reach 18 seasons, last reaching the national tournament for the only time in school history after winning the Southern crown in 1996.

Brandon Boggs, who scored a team-high 17 points, knocked down a 3-pointer with seven seconds to play to get Western Carolina (19-15) to within 54-53.

Cochran hit two free throws for a three-point lead and the Catamounts set up a last-second opportunity for Trey Sumler, who missed a long three at the buzzer.

Sumler, the Catamounts leading scorer, didn’t hit his first field goal until 10:39 remained in the game. Wofford spent the next two minutes scoring seven straight points to build a double-digit lead for the first time at 44-33.

It was a 53-48 game when Tawaski King (10 points and a game-high nine rebounds) converted a lay up, and after Wofford’s Lee Skinner went a combined 1 of 3 on two trips to the free-throw line, Boggs nailed his only 3-pointer of the night.

Sumler came into the night fifth in the conference in scoring, but went 3 of 12 from the field and scored nine points, his second poor outing of the tournament after a three-point, 1 of 7 shooting performance against Elon in the quarterfinals.

CAA Final: Delaware 75, William & Mary 74

Carl Baptiste had gone more than 17 minutes without a field goal when he broke his long drought and sent Delaware back to the NCAA Tournament.

Baptiste’s lay up with 13 seconds left was the game-winner in the top seed Blue Hens’ 75-74 victory over third-seeded William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association title game.

Delaware (25-9), in its 13th season in the CAA, won its first conference title since the 1998 and 1999 teams secured back-to-back America East crowns.

William & Mary (20-12), playing in its fourth CAA title game since 2008, led 74-68 with 1:21 to play after a 3-pointer by freshman Omar Prewitt, the CAA’s rookie of the year. Those were the final points for the Tribe. Devon Saddler had the last of his 16 points on a 2 for 2 trip to the line, then Jarvis Threatt (18 points) made a difficult shot in the lane that turned into a three-point play and got Delaware to within 74-73 with just under a minute left.

Marcus Thornton, an all-CAA first team member who led William & Mary with 22 points and averaged nearly 20 points in three tournament games, missed a short jumper with 32 seconds to play. Baptiste took a pass from Saddler and converted his first field goal since the 17:22 mark of the second for the go-ahead points.

Thornton missed a potential game-winning jumper as the buzzer sounded.

It was a heartbreaking finish for William & Mary, which remains one of only five original Division I schools to never advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Baptiste was excellent in the first half - scoring 16 of his 24 points on a perfect 7 for 7 shooting performance, but had just four points in the second half before his winning lay up. For the Tribe, Tim Rusthoven scored 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting and Prewitt came off the bench to score 14 points, all of which came in the second half, including an eight-point stretch over 3 1/2 minutes that included an emphatic dunk in transition, that helped the Tribe start its comeback from a 10-point deficit.

William and Mary led by as much as eight points in the opening half, at 18-10 on a bucket by Thornton, part of a 12-point half for the junior guard.

A pair of mini-runs closed the half. Rusthoven had six straight points during a minute and a half spurt that put the Tribe up 30-29, then Baptiste and Saddler each scored four points as Delaware closed the half on a 10-3 run and led 39-33 at the break.

It was a 51-41 Delaware lead with 14:23 to play following Anderson’s offensive rebound and two free throws. William & Mary eventually grabbed its six-point lead, thanks to Thornton and Prewitt, who combined to score 10 straight Tribe points that caped a 12-3 run.

William & Mary fell to 0-8 all-time in conference championship games.

MAAC Final: Manhattan 71, Iona 68

The Jaspers held onto a tight advantage throughout much of the second half to win its first conference championship since 2004.

RaShawn Stores’ lay up with 14:50 to play gave Manhattan (25-7) the lead for good at 39-38 and after a Stores 3-pointer and a dunk from Ashton Pankey it was a 44-38 cushion with just under 14 minutes to play.

Top seed Iona (22-10), which failed to defend its MAAC title and will probably fall short in its attempt to reach the NCAAs for a school-record third consecutive season, trailed by as much as 64-54 after a George Beamon 3-pointer with 6 1/2 minutes to play. The Gaels didn’t quit, and a 12-4 run capped by an A.J. English lay up made it a 70-68 game with 20 seconds to play.

Donovan Kates was 1 of 2 from the free-throw line to put Manhattan up 71-68, and after Iona struggled to find a last-second shot, David Laury missed badly on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Beamon had a game-high 16 points and Rhamel Brown added 15 to lead Manhattan, which avenged a loss to Iona in last year’s MAAC championship game. English’s 15 points led five in double figures for the Gaels, who came into the game fourth nationally in scoring, but scored less than 70 points for just the fourth time all season.