Men: Bubbles mostly far

The Roadrunners came through in the end, saving an at-large bid for some lucky team.
Ramapo athletics file photo

Saturday's results were relatively kind to the teams hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as top seeds like Wittenberg, Plattsburgh State and Ramapo won their title and automatic bids. Saturday was also a banner day for Bethany Lutheran, Greenville and New England College, which are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever, and also for Whitworth which beat undefeated Whitman at the buzzer.

  • Saturday's scoreboard: Men | Women
  • Who's in? Conference tournament trackers: Men | Women
  • Third set of NCAA regional rankings: Men | Women
  • More headlines: Men | Women
  • Selection Shows: Monday, 12:30 ET (Men) | 2:30 ET (Women)

Wittenberg took the NCAC title with an 82-70 win over Ohio Wesleyan. The Tigers benefited from a powerful inside presence, with Chad Roy and Connor Seipel combining for 54 points on 27-for-34 shooting, plus 11 assists from Mitchell Balser. OWU was led by Nate Axlerod, with 23 points and seven assists, putting him over 2,000 and 650 for his career, respectively. Wittenberg would have made the NCAA Tournament regardless, so the Tigers' win means someone's bubble did not pop yet.

Ramapo survived a late run by William Paterson to avoid complete armageddon in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, with the top-seeded Roadrunners holding on against the sixth-seeded Pioneers 67-59. William Paterson (16-12) put together a 20-9 run to cut its deficit to one point with 6:02 left in the game, but Nick Stanek hit a big 3-pointer and Thomas Bonacum scored three of his 19 points from the foul line in the final 75 seconds of the game to secure the victory. Ramapo improved to 21-6. The win for Ramapo preserved an at-large bid for someone in the bracket, possibly conference mates TCNJ or New Jersey City. 

Some bubble team should send Jonathan Patron a thank you card for preserving its NCAA Tournament bid. The junior forward dropped 41 points on SUNY Oneonta, and Plattsburgh State defeated the Red Dragons 93-80 for the SUNYAC's automatic bid. Patron shot 16-for-23 from the field and 6-for-7 from the foul line, in addition to grabbing nine rebounds for the Cardinals. Plattsburgh State was in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament, even without the automatic qualifying bid.

Blayde Reich scored a game-high 25 points, shooting 10-for-16 from the floor, as York (Pa.) avenged last Saturday's loss with an 82-73 win in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament final at Christopher Newport. Matt Scamuffo broke a 57-57 tie for the Spartans (23-4) with the second of his two free throws with 7:36 left and York went on an 18-3 run to put the game away. Brock Geiman scored 21 off the bench for Christopher Newport (21-6), which should get into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large.

Johns Hopkins completed its tremendous late season surge with a 61-57 win over Swarthmore in the Centennial Conference tournament title game. The Blue Jays used a 13-2 run midway through the second half to turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead they never relinquished. Johns Hopkins shot 6-for-6 from the foul line, all of them coming in the final minute, with Michael Gardner leading the way. Cam Wiley scored 20 points for the Garnet who await their fate in the at-large pool.

Whitworth snapped its six-game losing streak against rival Whitman in the sweetest way possible, beating the Blues 91-88 and ending their hopes for a perfect season. With the game tied at 88 and two seconds to go, Whitman All-American Tim Howell was called for a travelling violation. Whitworth's Kyle Roach got the ball, ran the length of the court and hit a three at the buzzer to give the Pirates the victory. For the second season in a row, Whitman was the Division III men's basketball last team to lose a game. Last year the Blues lost in the NCAA Tournament semifinals to eventual champion Babson. Bo Ryan's 1998 UW-Platteville team remains the last one to make a perfect run to a national championship.

Eastern Connecticut exploded for 50 points in the second half and topped Keene State 79-62 in the Little East Conference tournament finale. Tarchee Brown tallied 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists in a full 40 minutes for the Warriors (25-3). Ty Nichols scored 12 points but only shot 5-for-17 for the Owls (19-9).

Playing on the court named after his father, first-year coach Pete Moran led John Carroll to the OAC title by beating Ohio Northern 94-77. Matthew Csuhran led the Blue Streaks with 19 points off the bench and Antonio Vuyancih posted a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds).

Nebraska Wesleyan ended Central's bid to become the second team in a row to win the IIAC tournament from the sixth seed, as the Prairie Wolves ran past the Dutch 82-78. Nate Schimonitz scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Nebraska Wesleyan (24-3), which won the IIAC title in just its second season in the conference.

Bethany Lutheran ended the run of UMAC titles for Northwestern (Minn.), so the Vikings are making their maiden voyage to the NCAA Tournament.
Photo by Bethan Lutheran College athletics

Blackburn rallied to cut Greenville's lead to 110-106 at the final media timeout, but the running and gunning never stopped as the Panthers' Johari Dix answered with a 3-pointer and he and his teammates hit five of six free throws in the closing seconds to secure a 126-119 win. The victory garnered the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference automatic bid for Greenville, which improved to 19-8, outscoring its conference tournament opponents by an average of 125.5-115.5. Dix tied for game-high honors with 26 points and added eight assists in his 23 minutes.

Everything came up Roses for Bethany Lutheran in the UMAC title game when Brady Rose dished the ball to twin brother Bradley for a late three-pointer in the Vikings' 96-90 win over Northwestern (Minn.) Rose's three-pointer doubled the Vikings lead after the Eagles rallied within three points with two minutes to play. Brady Rose finished with 21 points and Bradley added 13 points and eight assists for Bethany Lutheran

New England College eased past Colby-Sawyer 72-56 for the NAC title and secured its first NCAA Tournament appearance. The Pilgrims led by as many as 29 points in the second half and outscored the Chargers 21-2 on fastbreak points.

Moravian will head to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history as a conference champion after beating Juniata 81-78 in the Landmark Conference title game. After Marcus Lee gave Juniata a 75-74 lead with 1:29 left, the Greyhounds rallied past them at the foul line on made shots from Will Brazukas and C.J. Barnes. Oneil Holder paced the Greyhounds with 28 points, including 9-for-9 from the foul line. Moravian's last championship came in 1940, long before NCAA Division III was established.

Ricky Bugg knocked down a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to lift Lebanon Valley over Albright 70-68 and into the NCAA Tournament. Caleb Barwin grabbed an offensive rebound off an LVC miss and passed the ball to Bugg for the game-winning shot. Sam Light led the way for the Flying Dutchmen with 35 points, with seven 3-pointers, and six rebounds.

The tight race in the MWC fiittingly came down to a close championship game where Monmouth held off Ripon 79-76. Justin Aluya tallied 25 points and eight rebounds for the Scots who are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990.

A performance of 22 points and 25 rebounds from Jaqhawn Walters was not enough for Albertus Magnus to secure the GNAC automatic bid, as the Falcons fell to Johnson & Wales for the second time in a week, 84-80. Jarell Lawson led the Wildcats with 25 points in the win, as JWU converted 24 of 37 from the free throw line. Marcos Echevarria poured in a team-high 33 points to propel Nichols to a 98-89 win over Endicott in the Commonwealth Coast Conference title game. Echevarria scored 25 points in the second half, while hitting 11-of-22 shots in the game, to get the Bison (25-3) back to the NCAA Tournament.

Tyler Steinglein took it to the basket and finished with a layup with two seconds left in regulation to lift top-seeded Nazareth to a 66-64 win in the Empire 8 tournament final vs. Utica. Jake Burgio led Nazareth (20-7) with 21 points on 8-for-23 shooting. Utica had rallied from 11 down late in the second half to tie on a bucket by Bennito Ayarza, who finished with 15 for Utica.

Benedictine came up one win short of what may be its last chance to play in the NCAA Division III Tournament, as top-seed Aurora downed the Eagles 76-71 in the NACC title game. The Spartans made 13 three-pointers with six coming from Max Vickers, who scored 25 points. Benedictine has applied for membership in NCAA Division II and it is unclear whether it will remain in the conference or be eligible for a conference title next season.

After an up-and-down season, Hanover finished the HCAC tournament on top as it was expected to do in the preseason. Cam Fails dropped 26 points and seven rebounds as Hanover won the turnover battle and the HCAC tournament with an 80-70 win over Rose-Hulman. The Fightin' Engineers were led by John Czarnecki, with 21 points. 

The first half of the MAC Freedom title game was low scoring, then the second half was high scoring, and Misercordia won them both en route to a 74-59 win over DeSales. The Cougars held the Bulldogs to 16 points in the first half and got 25 points from Tony Harding in the victory.

Fitchburg State's Cinderella run finished one win short of the NCAA Tournament. Second-seeded Bridgewater State beat the Falcons (13-15) to win the MASCAC automatic bid, 77-72. The Bears (18-9) went 8 for 9 from the foul line in the final 34 seconds to seal the win.

After Maryville head coach Randy Lambert picked up his 700th win on Friday night in the USA South Athletic Conference tournament semifinal, he earned win No. 701 and his first USA South Athletic Conference Tournament title as Maryville beat Covenant 96-77

In the UAA, the only conference without a tournament, Emory got 16 points from freshman Matt Davet to shore up its hopes of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as the Eagles (21-4, 12-2) defeated Rochester 71-61 on the road. Rochester's overall record slipped to 16-9, putting the Yellowjackets on the wrong side of most bubble conversations. Washington University is already in the tournament, but they'll enter on a down note, dropping the final UAA regular reason contest to Chicago 86-77. The Maroons out-shot and out-rebounded the Bears, with Jake Fenlon contributing 31 points in the effort. Kevin Kucera paced WUSTL with 21. 

Both top seeds in the NEWMAC men's tournament lost Saturday, with Babson falling 70-61 to MIT and Springfield dropping an 84-80 contest to WPI. AJ Jurko paced MIT in the battle of the beavers, with 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting, as the team shot over 50 percent from the floor. WPI used a team effort to overcome 34 points and 16 rebounds from Jake Ross to advance to tomorrow's NEWMAC final. Springfield has the best chance from the conference at a Pool C bid, but it's by no means a guarantee. The loss also formally ended the national title defense for Babson, which fell to 15-11 overall.

Freshman Noah Meren continued his coming-out party, leading Skidmore to a 63-60 win over No. 1 seed Hobart in the Liberty League semifinals. Meren scored 16 to go along with 13 rebounds. Edvinas Rupkus also had 16 points for Skidmore (16-10), which has now won five games in a row after a disastrous stretch in which the Thoroughbreds lost eight of 11. Hobart was led by Colin Dougherty, with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Hobart is in strong position for a Pool C bid, but the loss will mean someone else's bubble pops. Skidmore will take on Union tomorrow for the LL AQ.

In NESCAC action, Nathan Krill poured in 29 points, including a three pointer with seven seconds remaining that proved to be the difference as Wesleyan beat Amherst 65-63 in the conference semifinals. Krill also added 10 rebounds to his stellar performance. Amherst seniors, Johnny McCarthy and Michael Riopel combined for 32 points.