Mount St. Mary’s played an incredible half against Villanova and there was lots of other action around the country on a big day for the college basketball postseason.
NCAA Tournament: Notre Dame 60, Princeton 58
Princeton shot just 26% from three-point range, but managed to hang into the game by frustrating Notre Dame’s offense. Myles Stephens, who couldn’t get much of anything to drop on the offensive end, was excellent on the other side of the court. The Tigers had a chance to win the game down 1, but Devin Cannady’s three from the left wing was off the mark. As Columbia fans know all too well that’s one of the sophomore’s favorite shots. Spencer Weisz showed why he was Ivy League Player of the Year with 15 points on 6-11 shooting along with 4 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in a strong all-around effort. Bonzie Colson, bad ankle and all, was a tough matchup for the Tigers and finished with 18 points, including an uncharacteristic 6-10 from the free throw line. Stephens, Cannady and Amir Bell will be back next season, but the Tigers will face stiff competition. Princeton’s loss also put an end to the entirety of the 2016-17 Ivy League campaign. I doubt any team will go undefeated in 2017-18 Ivy League season, but hopefully all of the teams heed the advice of Michael James (a.k.a. @ivybball on Twitter) and schedule up next non-conference.
NCAA Tournament: Virgina 76, UNCW 71
This game was sequenced in a weird way. UNCW was hot early in the game and actually led by 15 points with 7:25 remaining in the first half. But UVA came back to lead by one at halftime and from there the Cavaliers made all the plays you’d expect from a team that, despite their seed, KenPom thinks is the 7th best in the country. Chris Flemmings finished his collegiate career with 18 points, but he struggled from 3, shooting just 2-9 from beyond the arc. London Perrantes was outstanding for the Cavaliers and finished with a game-high 24 points. Marial Shayok made some huge plays for Virginia and finished with 23 points. Despite the loss it’s likely that Kevin Keatts will be a hot name in the coaching carousel, considering he’s losing three of his five starters it’ll be interesting to see what he decides to do.
NCAA Tournament: Purdue 80, Vermont 70
The Vermont offense was really strong, scoring 1.06 points per possession, but the defense just couldn’t contain Purdue, which scored 1.21 points per possession. Not surprisingly the Boilermakers were able to dominate inside, making 55% of their two-point shots. They also grabbed 36% of their misses, thanks to a combined 7 offensive rebounds from Caleb Swanigan and Vincent Edwards. Those two were also the focal points from a scoring standpoint as they finished with 16 and 21 points respectively. Vermont was led by freshman Anthony Lamb, who scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Trae Bell-Haynes finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists for the Catamounts. It will be extremely interesting to see how the offseason treats Vermont. The undefeated double champions of America East should return four-fifths of their starting lineup, but will John Becker be back? How will he fill key bench roles? Figuring out the right answers to those questions could lead to another tournament appearance for Vermont very soon.
NCAA Tournament: Villanova 76, Mount St. Mary’s 56
Jamion Christian had the perfect gameplan. The Mount slowed things down, packed things in and sprinted out to challenge Villanova shooters near the three-point line. It worked too, Villanova didn’t score for the first 6:04 of the game and didn’t take the lead until an Eric Paschall dunk with 1:28 remaining in the first half. But after a Mawdo Sallah layup gave the Mount a 31-30 lead right after halftime the Wildcats went on a 13-0 run to reassert control. Freshman Miles Wilson was not in awe of the defending national champion or playing in the NCAA Tournament, he finished with 22 points, including some courageous drives to the basket. Elijah Long added 10 for the Mount. Villanova was led by Donte DiVecenzo, who scored 21 points in 37 minutes off the bench. The Mount, the double champion of the NEC had already won their play-in game in Dayton and flew into Buffalo at 2 am on Tuesday night. They seemed to really enjoy soaking up the entire tournament. Most of them should return, only two seniors played any minutes for Christian’s squad on Thursday. It should make the Mount a favorite in a young, up-and-coming Northeast Conference.
CIT: Saint Peter’s 59, Albany 55
Saint Peter’s went to a prett empty SEFCU Arena and captured a gritty victory in the CIT. The win was the first national postseason tournament win for Saint Peter’s since the 1980 NIT. The Peacocks were led by Nick Griffin, who scored 16 points. Quadir Welton added 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists along with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Saint Peter’s won despite shooting 47% (7-15) from the free throw line. John Dunne’s team also turned the ball over just four times in the entire contest. Albany hit 43% of its 3s, but took just 6 free throws all game. David Nichols led the Great Danes with 15 points. Albany also faces some offseason questions, Will Brown’s name has come up in discussions around the open job at Quinnipiac and I’m sure other mid-tier schools might be interested in a coach that has been a consistent winner in the America East. If Brown does return he should have a lot of talent to at least help challenge Vermont next season. This is the first 20-win season for Saint Peter’s since the 2010-11 season. Dunne has an experienced team that will have lots of questions in the offseason, but right now they can concentrate on trying to win another game in the CIT.
CBI: UIC 71, Stony Brook 69
Stony Brook trailed by 19 points with five minutes remaining, but almost completed a miraculous comeback in Chicago. Instead the Seawolves fell just short in the first round of the CBI. They finished what was initially thought of to be a rebuilding campaign under new head coach Jeff Boals with an 18-14 rebounds. Akwasi Yeboah led Stony Brook with 15 points, while Bryan Sekunda added 12 and UC Iroegbu and Tyrell Sturdivant each scored 11. Freshman Dominique Matthews scored 21 points to lead the Flames. Like their competitors in America East, most of this Stony Brook team should return for next season. Boals will need to find pieces around the edges in the first recruiting class he’s had time to find all by himself.
Quick hits: It was announced that UMBC will host Saint Francis U. on Saturday in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. … Northwestern is now undefeated all-time in the NCAA Tournament at 1-0 after beating Vanderbilt. … Iona and Seton Hall are both in action tomorrow in the NCAA Tournament.
Vis: I’m still playing around with the assist network, but this new iteration is closer to what I’m envisioning. This is for Wisconsin before their game last night against Virginia Tech.