Franklin, Moore and Ubiles combined to shoot a putrid 4-for-27 from the field, playing a major role in the Saints' second half offensive difficulties. Butler outscored Siena 42-22 in the final twenty minutes and their shooting (54.1% FG, 45% 3PT) made up for sixteen turnovers as the Saints shot 33.9% for the game. Even without Willie Veasley the Bulldogs look poised to make a run in the NCAA Tournament because of their defense and ability to get to the foul line, something they neglected to do in the first half as Siena led 31-28 at the break. Brad Stevens' team attacked the basket in the second half and took thirteen foul shots in the final twenty minutes (three in the first half).
As for Siena they most likely have to win the MAAC Tournament next month if they're to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season. If they were to fall would they have a case in regards to being one of the thirty-four best remaining teams in America? Yes. But when your resume lacks one win over a Top 50 opponent you're going to have a tough time convincing the selection committee of that.
Three Key Results
1. Louisiana Tech 70, Northeastern 67 The Bulldogs, who dropped a close one at Utah State earlier in the week, came back late to beat the Huskies in Boston. DeAndre Brown banked in a three with 24 seconds remaining to complete a 7-0 game-ending run, adding to the CAA's BracketBusters misery on Saturday (for the event they went 3-9). Brown and Jamel Guyton scored eighteen points apiece while Magnum Rolle added seventeen, making up for a 4-for-13 afternoon from Kyle Gibson. Matt Janning led four Huskies in double figures with 19 but it wasn't enough to hold off Louisiana Tech. While the win won't be of the "lock up an at-large" variety it does help the Bulldogs' resume and the WAC as well.
2. Charleston 85, George Mason 83 Yet another tough result for the CAA as the Cougars held on late in Fairfax. Tony White Jr. led all scorers with 25 points while Jeremy Simmons added a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds as Charleston handed GMU their third consecutive defeat. Johnny Williams led six Patriots in double figures with eighteen but Mason couldn't get over the hump. One area that they're sure to lament in the aftermath: foul shooting. George Mason attempted twelve more foul shots (31-19) yet made just eighteen of those attempts. Shoot 70% from the line instead of 58.8% and they likely win. The impact of this result: combined with the others it drops the CAA's profile to that of a one-bid league most likely.
3. Utah St 68, Wichita St 58 In the nightcap the Aggies took care of business at home, receiving a balanced scoring effort and shooting 51% from the field. Tai Wesley led Utah State with 13 points while Nate Bendall (12 points) and Brady Jardine (11 points) also reached double figures. J.T. Durley led the Shockers with 12 points and eight rebounds but they were unable to recover from a cold first half that saw the Aggies take a ten-point lead into the locker room. Clevin Hannah, who went into the game averaging just over twelve points per game, didn't score until well past the halfway point of the second half and finished with six points. He and leading scorer Toure' Murry combined for eight points on 3-for-17 shooting. While USU looks to be a safe bet for the Big Dance, Gregg Marshall's Shockers may need to win Arch Madness next month if they're to be in the field of 65.
Top Three Games
1. Hofstra 92, Rider 89 (OT) The Pride survived a career-high 38 points from Ryan Thompson to win in Hempstead as Charles Jenkins scored 31 and Greg Washington added a double-double (12 pts, 11 reb and eight blocks). Novar Gadson's layup with 43 seconds remaining sent the game to overtime but all that did was delay the inevitable.
2. Missouri St 62, Nevada 60 A pair of Nafis Ricks free throws with three seconds remaining completed the Bears' comeback from a ten-point second half deficit. Kyle Weems led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Nevada's Luke Babbitt accounted for 16 and 12.
3. Louisiana Tech 70, Northeastern 67 See above.
Three Notable Performances
1. G/F John Holland (Boston University) 43 points and six rebounds in the Terriers' 78-65 win at Delaware.
2. G Ryan Thompson (Rider) 38 points, six rebounds and six assists in the Broncs' 92-89 overtime loss to Hofstra.
3. G Robo Kreps (Illinois-Chicago) 28 points, six assists and five rebounds in the Flames' 82-80 win at Evansville.