The Mount St. Mary’s mens basketball team hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2008, but the Mountaineers were emphatic Tuesday in securing their return trip. Five players scored in double figures and the No. 4 seed never trailed in shocking regular season champion and host Robert Morris 88-71 in the Northeast Conference championship game.
Mount St. Mary’s (16-16) made 60 percent of its field goal attempts (32 for 53) and led by as much as 21 points in winning the program’s first league title since 2007-2008. The Mountaineers also completed a miraculous run through the league tournament. The Emmitsburg, Maryland school defeated St. Francis (Brooklyn) 72-71 in the quarterfinals, then held off No. 2 seed Wagner 77-72 in the semifinals. The championship game wasn’t nearly as close.
Rashad Whack led the way for Mount St. Mary’s with 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting, while Julian Norfleet added 17 points and Sam Prescott and Taylor Danaher chipped in with 15 each. Robert Morris (21-13), trying to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since capturing consecutive Northeast titles in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, were led by Karvel Anderson’s 21 points.
Horizon League final: Milwaukee 69, Wright State 63
From a sub-.500 regular season in conference play to four wins in eight days, the Panthers are going dancing. Kyle Kelm had 20 points and nine rebounds and Jordan Aaron added 18 points as fifth-seeded Milwaukee pulled off its third straight upset 69-63 over No. 3 seed Wright State to win the Horizon League championship.
Milwaukee (21-13), which had lost four consecutive games before winning its regular season finale over Detroit, getting them to 7-9 against league foes, capped an impressive run through the league tournament to advance to the NCAAs for the first time since winning consecutive Horizon crowns in 2004-05 and 2005-06. The Panthers followed another win over Detroit in the first round with a blowout victory over No. 4 seed Valparaiso in the quarterfinals, then shocked top seed Green Bay in overtime in the semifinals. They became the first No. 5 seed to win the Horizon Tournament.
Wright State (20-14) was led by A.J. Pacher’s 16 points.
West Coast Final: Gonzaga 75, BYU 64
The 2014 version of the Bulldogs wasn’t considered as feared a team as last year’s juggernaut that wound up with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But after the six-day event, the league kingpin is back in familiar territory.
Sam Dower had 20 points and 13 rebounds and the Bulldogs captured their 13th West Coast Conference tournament title and 16th straight NCAA bid.
Gonzaga (28-6), which has reached the NCAAs in every season since 1998-99, the year before Mark Few came aboard as the head coach, shot 52 percent from the field and after being tied a minute into the game, never trailed again when Dower hit a jumper at the 18:45 mark.
The No. 2 seed Cougars (23-11), who had their six-game winning streak snapped, are expected to be left out of the NCAA Tournament with the NIT the most likely destination for the Provo, Utah school. It would be the second consecutive season the Cougars have missed the NCAAs after going in six straight years.
BYU’s Tyler Haws, the conference’s scoring champion, paced all players with 24 points.
Summit Final: North Dakota State 60, IPFW 57
The Bison, in their seventh season in the Summit, reached the NCAAs for the first time since their 2008-2009 debut.
North Dakota State (25-6), which has won nine consecutive games, trailed 55-54 after two Steve Forbes’ free throws at the 1:37 mark. Taylor Braun then hit consecutive lay ups, the last of which the senior guard converted into a three-point play that put the top seed up 59-55 with 12 seconds left.
Braun scored 15 points and TraVonn Wright led all scorers with 18 points for North Dakota State. No player for second-seeded IPFW (24-10) scored in double figures, though each of the five starters had at least eight points.
In 13 seasons of playing in Division I, the Mastodons have never advanced to the NCAA Tournament.