Men's championship Saturday

North Central with the CCIW trophy
North Central kept Augustana at arm's-length down the stretch to clinch the automatic bid on the road.
North Central (Ill.) athletics photo

Jim Calhoun's run as his first-ever trip to the Division III NCAA Tournament fell a few points short, North Central came up with a win at Augustana, Emerson clinched its first-ever trip to Division III's big dance and Emory won the automatic bid for the only conference without a conference tournament. In all, 30 automatic bids to the 2019 Division III men's basketball NCAA Tournament are on the line on Saturday, with 11 yet to come on Sunday. 

Legendary former UConn coach Jim Calhoun led his St. Joseph (Conn.) squad to a 13-11 regular season mark in its first-ever season of men's basketball, finishing in seventh place in the 12-team Great Northeast Athletic Conference. But the Blue Jays went on to pull off two road upsets and very nearly finished the job Saturday afternoon at Albertus Magnus. St. Joseph led by seven at halftime, but the Falcons tied the game just over five minutes into the second half. Davon Warner hit a 3-pointer for the hosts with 4:27 left to give Albertus Magnus the lead for the final time and the team hit enough free throws down the stretch to avoid the upset, winning 81-77. Damian Grant was 9-for-13 from the floor en route to 21 points for the Falcons (20-7), while Warner hit just four of his 16 shots off the bench en route to 11. Delshawn Jackson Jr. scored a game-high 23 points in 39 minutes, while Chris Childs played 38 minutes and poured in 22 points for the Blue Jays (16-12). But they combined to go 3-for-16 from beyond the arc and St. Joseph was 4-for-20 as a team.

North Central (Ill.) clinched its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, as the third-seeded Cardinals won 72-65 at top seed Augustana, beating the Vikings for the third time in four CCIW finals. After trailing by 12, Augustana closed the gap to six points with under 8 minutes to play. But Connor Raridon scored nine of his 23 points in that closing stretch, finishing 8-for-12 on the night to secure the win. Micah Martin led Augustana with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Augustana is a lock for an at-large bid, but the Cardinals' win should not knock anyone out of contention, as North Central was very likely to be selected to the NCAA Tournament regardless.

Jack O'Connor scored a game-high 33 points and Geoffrey Gray added 16 points and 11 rebounds as Emerson won the NEWMAC tournament final in front of a packed, home crowd, 93-75 over WPI. Emerson, the second seed in the tournament, improved to 16-11 and clinched its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. O'Connor hit two buckets in the first 41 seconds of the second half en route to his career high total, while stretching the Lions' lead out to double digits. WPI never got closer than six the rest of the way. Colin McNamara led the Engineers (19-10) with 16 points.

Marcus Carter has already has a great career for Christopher Newport, including a All-America nod in 2016. But the senior came up with a career-high 31 points on Saturday to help the No. 11 Captains roll past York (Pa.) 78-56 in the Capital Athletic Conference final. York (21-7) opened the second half on a 9-2 run to tie the game, but CNU responded with a 19-3 streak of its own and led by at least 13 points the rest of the way. CNU has won nine in a row to improve to 25-3.

Reece Dupler had a huge afternoon for Wooster, scored 33 points and shooting 13-for-19 from the floor, 5-for-7 from 3-point range. But the rest of the Scots were 5-for-17 from beyond the arc and Wittenberg's balanced scoring led it to a 79-75 win and the North Coast Athletic Conference automatic bid. Mitchell Balser scored 19 points, while Connor Seipel added 18 and James Johnson contributed 16 as well in the win for the Tigers. Both teams end the day at 23-5, and Wooster will be in fine shape for an at-large bid to the tournament.

There is only one automatic bid in Division III basketball that goes to a team without a conference tournament, and that is in the University Athletic Association. Even then, as the schedule broke, the two top contenders met up in a de facto title game on Saturday, as Emory defeated the University of Rochester 92-82. Lawrence Rowley, coming off the bench on Emory's senior day, scored a team-high 19 points, one of six players in double figures for the Eagles, who improved to 20-5. Ryan Clamage led the way with 25 points and nine rebounds for Rochester, which should be in fine shape for an at-large bid at 20-5.

Danny Ashley hit a 3-pointer for Brockport with 3:12 left in the game to give the Golden Eagles a 50-46 lead. But those were the last points Brockport scored, as Oswego State accounted for the final nine points and won the SUNYAC final by a 55-50 score. The Lakers (22-5), who had played to two overtimes on Friday night, used just six players on Saturday, four of whom played 40 minutes apiece. Quinn Carey shot just 4-for-14 from the floor, but all of them were from beyond the arc as he finished with a team-high 14. Brockport fell to 17-11.

Dom LeMorta scored a game-best 31 points, shooting 13-for-20 from the floor as Alfred punched its ticket to the Division III playoffs for the first time since 1997, defeateing St. John Fisher 90-78 in the Empire 8 final. The Saxons (23-4) won their 13th consecutive game after road losses at Nazareth and Sage in mid-January.

Booker Coplin scored an amazing 46 points, and was 7-for-16 from beyond the arc, but it was not enough as St. John's defeated Augsburg 82-79 for the MIAC automatic bid. Coplin made a free throw with four seconds left to cut the deficit to three, then intentionally missed the second to allow the Auggies (19-9) to rebound. Augsburg did get the ball, but Henry Mulligan's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was blocked by Zach Hanson and the Johnnies (23-4) escaped with the win. Lucas Walford scored 22 and Jubie Alade added 20 for St. John's in the victory. Photo gallery

Whitman rallied from a ten-point halftime deficit to defeat visiting Whitworth 107-102 in the Northwest Conference tournament final. The second-ranked Blues (26-1) outscored the Pirates 62-47 in the second half to earn the NWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. In what could have been his final game as a Pirate, All-American Kyle Roach poured in 38 points to raise his career scoring total to 1,654. Andrew Vickers had a team-high 32 points for the Blues, while Austin Butler finished with 22.

Salem State booked itself another trip to the NCAA Tournament, as the Vikings defeated Westfield State 66-57. Salem State (18-9) clinched its 25th trip to the NCAA Tournament, but just its third in the past 10 years. Sean Bryan posted 18 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists in the victory. Moody Bey led the second-seeded Owls (16-11) with 11 points on the afternoon.

Sixth-seeded Newbury took the game to overtime, but Mitchell jumped out to a big lead in the extra session and held on as the fourth-seeded Mariners won the New England Collegiate Conference final by a 77-69 score. The Nighthawks, who will be without a school after the conclusion of this spring semester, won their final four NECC games to force their way into the six-team tournament, then won two road games in the tournament to reach the final before falling. Newbury finished 12-15, while Mitchell improved to 19-9. Domenico Santiago had 16 points for Mitchell, along with a game-high 24 rebounds.

There is one Pool B bid in this year's tournament, which is reserved as a form of automatic bid for conferences not large enough or established enough to get one. Gwynedd Mercy, the leading contender, defeated Marymount to win the inaugural Atlantic East Conference tournament and improve to 19-8 as Courtney Cubbage poured in a game-high 30 points. Thomas More, which is in the other non-automatic conference, entered the weekend 16-8, but just 10-7 vs. Division III foes.

Keep an eye on the conference tournament tracker as we get ready for Sunday's games.