Straight A's for Amherst, but upsets elsewhere

Caroline Stedman had 17 points for Amherst.

The last automatic bids into the men's and women's NCAA tournaments are up for grabs on Sunday.

Defending national champions Amherst will enter the NCAA tournament with a perfect 27-0 record. The Lord Jeffs outscored Tufts 41-15 in the second half to win their third consecutive NESCAC title 65-39. Amherst joins Chicago, George Fox and Mary Washington as undefeated teams in the national tournament.

Louisiana College fell to Concordia (Texas) in the American Southwest Conference championship game. Although Concordia was ranked No. 4 in the region coming in, the Tornados were not tournament locks if they had lost. Louisiana College, the No. 1 team in the last NCAA regional rankings. should be safely in the field.

In another all-Massachusetts final, No. 14 Babson took care of Smith 74-51 to win the NEWMAC title. The Beavers' terrific trio -- Sarah Collins, Kathleen King and Nicki Wurdeman -- combined for 50 points, 29 rebounds and 14 assists.

Guilford shut down Virginia Wesleyan 57-40 to capture the ODAC championship and automatic bid. Guilford's Jazlyn Gibbs (19 points) and Morgan King (12 points) each scored more than Virginia Wesleyan's entire starting lineup (11 points).

In the USA South Athletic Conference final, Ferrum defeated Christopher Newport 82-56 to punch its ticket to the Big Dance. The Panthers outrebounded the Captains by 18 and never trailed. Ferrum will make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1995.

Franklin captured the HCAC title by shutting down Hanover in the second half of a 64-44 victory. the Grizzlies held the Panthers to 17 second half points. Sarah Condra notched 24 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for Franklin.

Jessica Bandowski hit seven three-pointers and scored 30 points in Keuka's 66-63 win over SUNYIT in the NEAC tournament final. The Storm only had 19 field goals, but 10 came from behind the arc.

Men's action

Zach Lambert and Trinity (Texas) are back in the tournament after a two-year hiatus.

The SCAC will lose several of its conference members next season, but it won't lose its defending champion. Trinity (Texas) defeated Centre 61-50 to capture the conference crown and automatic bid. With the game tied at 35 midway through the second half, the Tigers seized control with a 15-3 run. Zach Lambert finished with 26 points and eight rebounds for Trinity (Texas). Centre and six other SCAC members will form a new conference next season.

Rose-Hulman won a back-and-forth overtime thriller over No. 16 Transylvania 76-73. Austin Weatherford's layup with a minute remaining in overtime was the only field goal of the extra period but it gave the Engineers the victory. Julian Strickland led the way for Rose-Hulman with 30 points. Transylvania's loss likely costs someone an at-large bid.

No. 2 Amherst completed a full weekend of basketball at LeFrak Gymnasium with a dramatic 71-69 win over No. 4 Middlebury in the NESCAC championship. The Panthers erased a four-point Amherst lead in the final minute when Joey Kizel grabbed a rebound off a missed Amherst free-throw and slashed to the rim for two. Amherst called timeout and set up Taylor Barrise who buried a three-pointer with three seconds left, just his second made field-goal of the game. The Lord Jeffs fouled Kizel with one second remaining on the ensuing Panther possession. He made the first and missed the second but the Panthers couldn't tip the ball in for the tie.

MIT held off Springfield 65-60 to win the program's third NEWMAC title. The Engineers enter the NCAA tournament with a 25-1 record. Mitchell Kates scored 24 points for MIT while Alex Berthiaume countered with 25 for Springfield.

Christopher Newport beat Greensboro 82-72 to win the USA South Athletic Conference title. The Captain shot a sizzling 63 percent (30-for-48) from the field. Tra Benefield, who was the conference rookie of the year last season, led Christopher Newport with 19 points.

Morrisville State will make its first trip to the NCAA tournament. The Mustangs defeated Penn State-Harrisburg 76-72 to win the NEAC's automatic bid.

Virginia Wesleyan held off Randolph to win the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament. For Randolph, it's the second loss in the title game in as many years, although both times the WildCats pulled upsets to get there. UW-River Falls defeated UW-Whitewater 64-58 in the WIAC title game, but both teams should be in the NCAA Tournament.

More to come later.