|Sean Young and Montclair State are one win away
from the NCAA tournament.
The top seed in each half of the NJAC bracket was eliminated when Montclair State won 67-64 at Ramapo and New Jersey City defeated Kean 75-61 on the road.
Montclair State and New Jersey City have faced each other twice in the past nine days, with the teams splitting the two games. NJCU will host the championship game, which could turn the NJAC from a two-bid to a three-bid conference in the Division III men's basketball NCAA Tournament.
Ramapo led Montclair State 62-59 with 2:25 to play in their NJAC semifinal. Then Kevin Freeney took over for Montclair. In the next three possessions he hit a layup to cut the lead to one, made a free throw to tie the game and hit a three pointer to give the Red Hawks a 65-62 advantage. Anthony LoRusso scored on Ramapo’s next possession but Freeney hit two more three throws to ice the game.
In the other NJAC final, New Jersey City scored the game’s first nine points and bolted out to a 12-2 lead. Kean whittled the Gothic Knights’ lead down to one at 35-34 early in the second half. But New Jersey City answered with a 10-2 run and held the Cougars at arm’s length the rest of the way. Jonathan Jones of Kean, who was named the conference’s MVP earlier in the day, was injured 22 seconds into the game. New Jersey City has won 11 of its last 12 games.
Doug Sexauer scored 18 points, including hitting a jumper with a second left to lift Illinois Wesleyan into the CCIW tournament with a 70-68 home win against No. 6 Augustana. The Titans' win knocks Carthage, a Sweet 16 team last year with the returning D3hoops.com Player of the Year, out of a spot in the four-team conference tournament.
In the North Coast Athletic Conference, Wooster had its second close call of the season against Allegheny, having to rally against the No. 8 seed before winning 62-57 in the NCAC quarterfinals. Chris Sullivan scored 20 and Jacob Weide added 15 as Wittenberg beat Denison 77-63, while Wabash had little trouble with Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan advanced past Hiram.
Both home teams lost in the first round of the WIAC tournament. Sixth seed UW-Superior upended UW-Whitewater 78-72 just 72 hours after losing at Whitewater by 16 in the regular season finale. UW-Platteville topped UW-La Crosse 66-63 despite 33 points and 11 rebounds for Eagles senior Terry Mane. Mane finishes as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,095 points.
Cabrini survived a scare at home from Neumann and advanced to the Colonial States Athletic Conference title game with a 79-76 win. Dom Farrello hit a fall-away jumper in the final minute to put the Cavaliers ahead for good. Cabrini will meet Gwynedd-Mercy who handled Keystone 85-65.
If seedings hold, the 4-5 games should be the most entertaining in the opening round. That was certainly the case in the Skyline where Old Westbury tipped Farmingdale State 98-86 in double-overtime. The same goes for the Ohio Athletic Conference where Heidelberg edged Ohio Northern 80-77 in double-overtime. Dane Givner scored 26 for the Student Princes in their victory.
There are usually far fewer upsets in the first round of the women's conference tournaments and this year has followed that pattern so far. Among the lop-sided winners were Hope (61-point win), Christpopher Newport (55), Greensboro (36) and Denison (35). Hope's win was its 75th in a row at home. All 15 players scored for Hope and nobody played more than 18 minutes in the rout.
The biggest upsets were in the Great Lakes region. Seventh seed John Carroll surprised second seed Baldwin-Wallace 74-60 in the OAC quarterfinals. Lee Jennings scored 31 points for Blue Streaks who shot 54 percent from the field (30 for 56). Trine beat St. Mary's (Ind.) 68-58 in the MIAA's 3-6 matchup. Sydney Spragg scored 21 points for the Thunder who had lost 12 of their last 16 games.
Daphne Thompson won her 300th career game as Oneonta State advanced to the SUNYAC semifinals with a 68-53 win against Plattsburgh State. Top-seeded Geneseo State advanced by crushing Brockport State 74-33. Geneseo will play Cortland and Oneonta will face New Paltz.
The top four seeds will meet in the MIAC semifinals. Molly Mathiowetz was a rebound shy of a double-double and homestanding Gustavus Adolphus shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half to hold off Bethel 67-63 in a 4-5 game in the MIAC. Taylor Sheley scored 21 of her 25 in the second half for the Royals, who end their season at 15-11. Gustavus travels to top seed St. Thomas on Thursday. Third-seeded St. Benedict got past Macalester 62-57 as Heather Gillund scored 17 points in just 18 minutes. St. Ben's travels to No. 2 seed Concordia-Moorhead.