Friday Afternoon Conference Tournament Happenings
You know it's March where there's midday college basketball to be discussed. Friday afternoon delivered just six games (one in progress) but there hasn't been a lack of drama. The Colonial, Missouri Valley and Southern conferences all had afternoon doubleheaders in their tournaments, with the MVC in the quarterfinals while the other two leagues are playing first round games today.
(8) Georgia State 58, (9) UNC Wilmington 52
The collegiate career of UNC Wilmington guard Chad Tomko came to a tough end in the first game of the day in Richmond. Tomko led the Seahawks with 19 points but he shot 7-for-21 from the field and finished with four turnovers, the last of which came with just over a minute remaining and UNCW trailing by five (54-49). As a team UNCW shot a season-worst 29.5% from the field, and they could never get into a groove offensively. It also didn't help that the Seahawks made just 10 of 20 from the foul line. Josh Micheaux led the Panthers, who earn the honor of facing regular season champion George Mason at noon tomorrow, with 14 points while Eric Buckner added 12 and Jihad Ali grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with his nine points. And the play of Marques Johnson shouldn't be overlooked either as he dished out seven assists to just one turnover on the day. George Mason beat Georgia State 66-51 in their lone meeting on January 15th.
(5) Drexel 75, (12) Towson 69
Considering the fact that Towson went into today's game winless in CAA contests this season, many expected Bruiser Flint's Dragons to simply run through the Tigers on their way to a matchup with VCU on Saturday. But that wasn't the case as Pat Kennedy's squad remained competitive throughout, but they couldn't take advantage of an opportunity to tie the game late due in part to some bad foul shooting by Drexel. The Dragons survive with Samme Givens leading the way, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Chris Fouch added 15 points of the bench while CAA All-Rookie Team member Frantz Massenat scored 13 and handed out five assists. Dartaye Ruffin, who had a rough time at the charity stripe late, grabbed 12 rebounds while also scoring eight points. Josh Brown led four Tigers in double figures with 18 points but they were whipped on the boards by a 43-26 margin.
(1) Missouri State 58, (8) Southern Illinois 56
Southern Illinois got out of the gates quickly, outscoring the regular season champion Bears 11-3 over the first 2:53 of the game and led 32-24 at the half. But despite those facts and a 56-47 lead with 2:49 remaining, the Salukis went out in heartbreaking fashion as a Kyle Weems basket with 1.4 seconds to go capped an 11-0 run to end the game. Adam Leonard led Missouri State with a game-high 20 points while Weems added 14, making up for a 5-for-18 afternoon from the field with the late-game heroics. Mamadou Seck led SIU with 15 points and 14 rebounds and Kendal Brown-Surles and Justin Bocot scored 11 apiece. Rebounding (38-28 edge) and points from the foul line (15-6 advantage) helped out Cuonzo Martin's club, who has to come out with more energy to start in tomorrow's semifinal against Creighton if they're to get to Sunday's final.
(5) Creighton 70, (4) Northern Iowa 67
The Blue Jays survived some suspect play late, most notably a missed layup that would have sealed the game by Jahenns Manigat, to beat the Panthers in the second quarterfinal of the day. Kwadzo Ahelegbe tried to draw a foul on the final shot of the game but Manigat stayed on the ground, not falling for the shot fake and forcing the senior to put up a challenged shot that fell short. Forwards Doug McDermott and Kenny Lawson, Jr. were the difference for the Blue Jays, with McDermott scoring 16 points (including nine of the first 11) to go along with seven rebounds and Lawson dropped in 18 off the bench. UNI took away the inside play that hurt them in the first half, but all that did was allow the preseason MVC Player of the Year to do damage via Creighton's pick-and-pop game. Antoine Young scored 11 points and racked up seven assists, being every bit the problem for the Panthers that he was in the regular season. Ahelegbe finished with 14 points and four assists, and Anthony James added 10 for UNI.
UNC Greensboro 71, Davidson 64
To say the least it's a bit weird to talk about Davidson in March with the subject being their loss in the first round of the conference tournament. But that's exactly what happened to Bob McKillop's team, as UNCG sent them home in the first game of the day in Chattanooga. It doesn't help matters when you shoot 24% from the field, as the Wildcats made just 18 of 75 shots on the day. Freshman Trevis Simpson led the Spartans with 15 points and 10 rebounds and teammates Brandon Evans (12) and Kyle Randall (11) each reached double figures as they won their seventh game of the season. Brendan McKillop led Davidson with 14 points and J.P. Kuhlman added 11. Next up for UNC Greensboro is a matchup with the top seed in the North Division, Western Carolina.
Appalachian State 65, Georgia Southern 57
Donald Sims led three Mountaineers in double figures with a game-high 20 points to go along with four rebounds and two assists in the win over Georgia Southern. Neither team shot well from beyond the arc (combined 3-for-19) but Appalachian State scored 27 of their 65 points from the foul line in the win. Ben Drayton III led the Eagles with 16 points but it wasn't enough to prevent the end of their season. Next up for Appalachian State is defending tournament champion Wofford in the second quarterfinal tomorrow.
Atlantic Sun Semifinals (ESPN3)
(1) Belmont vs. (5) Mercer
(2) East Tennessee State vs. (6) North Florida
CAA First Round (CAASports.com)
(10) Northeastern vs. (7) Delaware (29-27 Northeastern at halftime)
(11) William & Mary vs. (6) James Madison
Horizon Quarterfinals (ESPN3)
(6) Wright State vs. (3) Cleveland State (31-27 Cleveland State at halftime)
(5) Detroit vs. (4) Valparaiso
MAAC First Round (MAACSports.com)
(8) Niagara vs. (9) Marist
(7) Siena vs. (10) Manhattan
Missouri Valley Quarterfinals (FSN Midwest)
(7) Bradley vs. (2) Wichita State
(6) Evansville vs. (3) Indiana State
Ohio Valley Semifinals (ESPNU)
(4) Tennessee Tech vs. (1) Murray State
(3) Austin Peay vs. (2) Morehead State
Southern Conference First Round (SoConSports.com)
(N6) Samford vs. (S3) Furman
(S5) The Citadel vs. (N4) Elon
WCC First Round (ESPN3)
(8) Loyola Marymount vs. (5) Portland
(7) San Diego vs. (6) Pepperdine
Other Games (regular season)
Brown at Cornell
Princeton at Dartmouth
Penn at Harvard
Yale at Columbia
Akron at Kent State
Ohio at Miami (OH)
HOOPS TALK LIVE SATURDAY 11am-NOON