Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Valpo, Robert Morris, Gonzaga Head for NCAA Tourney; Lawrence Alexander Leads Bison to Summit League Title

Conference Championships and College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Horizon League
Valparaiso 54 Green Bay 44 - Valparaiso is headed back to the NCAA tournament after taking care of business in the Horizon League championship, downing the Phoenix of Green Bay with a smoldering defensive effort. While the Crusaders shot just 37.5% (18-48), their counterparts from Green Bay hit only 30% of their shots from the field (16-53), including going 2-for-15 from three-point range.

Valparaiso forced 12 turnovers, blocked six shots (five by forward Vashil Fernandez) and snatched up seven steals.

The Crusaders went 13-3 in conference play and are winners of the tournament championship for the second time in three years.

Robert Morris 66 St. Francis BRK 63 - Lucky Jones knocked down a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to play and St. Francis Brooklyn could not respond as tine wore down, sending Robert Morris to the upset win in the Northeast conference championship game and on to the NCAA tournament with the automatic bid.

St. Francis owned the regular season with a 15-3 mark in conference play, but was denied by a gritty effort from the Robert Morris Colonials who were 8-for-16 from beyond the arc. Jones, chipped in 12 points from off the bench, adding to Rodney Prior's team-high 17 points. The Colonials had five players in double figures.

Summit League
North Dakota State 57 South Dakota State 56 - For the second straight season the Bison will represent the Summit League in the NCAA tourney, after edging South Dakota State's Jackrabbits in the conference tournament title game. Summit League player of the year, Lawrence Alexander, pumped in a game-high 25 points, making six of nine from three-point range and scoring 17 of his team's 34 points in the second half.

Both the Bison and Jackrabbits finished the regular season with 12-4 marks in the conference, so it was only fitting that the game would go down to the wire. North Dakota State kept the 'Rabbits in the game late, twice missing front ends of 1-and-1 free throw situations, but South Dakota's George Marshall and Deondre Parks each misfired on shots that would have won the game in the final seconds.

West Coast
Gonzaga 94 BYU 81 - For the 13th time, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are champions of the West Coast confrence, easily disposing of the BYU Cougars, despite a game-high 28 points by the Cougars' Kyle Collinsworth.

The win ran the Zags' record to 32-2 overall, after going 17-1 in conference play, avenging their loss to the Cougars duing the regular season. Their only other loss was a 66-63 OT setback at Arizona back on December 6. Once a so-called "Cinderella" team, Gonzaga has evolved into a national contender and could easily be the #1 seed in the West Region when the selection committee announced the seedings this Sunday.

Conference Championship Scoreboard
Date/Conf. Champ. Champion (record, defeated, final score)
March 7
Ohio Valley Belmont (22-10, Murray State, 88-87)

March 8
Big South Coastal Carolina (24-9, Winthop, 81-70)
Missouri Valley Northern Iowa (29-3, Illinois, St., 69-60)
Atlantic Sun North Florida (23-11, USC Upstate, 63-57)

March 9
Colonial Northeastern (23-11, William & Mary, 73-61)
Metro Atlantic Manhattan (19-13, Iona, 79-69)
Southern Wofford (28-6, Furman, 67-64)

March 10
Horizon Valparaiso (28-5, Green Bay, 54-44)
Northeast Robert Morris (19-14, St. Francis BRK, 66-63)
Summit League N. Dakota St. (23-9, S. Dakota St., 57-56)
West Coast Gonzaga (33-2, BYU, 91-75)

March 11
Patriot League

March 14
America East
Big 12
Big East
Big Sky
Big West
Conference USA
Mountain West
Southwest Athletic
Western Athletic

March 15
Atlantic 10
Big Ten
Sun Belt

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