Saturday men: Bubble spots holding steady

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Four players scored in double figures for Emory.
Emory athletics file photo

So far, Saturday's early results have looked pretty positive for teams on the bubble, as conference favorites won pretty much across the board and multiple-bid conferences remained relatively intact after Friday's carnage.

Emory picked up the first conference automatic bid of the day, and the only one not involving a conference tournament, as the Eagles won 84-75 at the University of Rochester in a head-to-head game for the UAA title. The win leaves U of R and NYU right where they began the day, in good shape to get at-large bids to the 62-team NCAA Tournament.

Mitchell Reinthaler hit two free throws in the closing seconds and St. Norbert held on to defeat Carroll 71-69 in the Midwest Conference tournament title game, likely preserving an at-large bid for someone else in Division III. Carroll never led, but the Pioneers (20-5) went on a 15-4 run with under two minutes remaining to tie the game 69-69. It was the game's only tie. D.J. DeValk led all scorers with 20 points for St. Norbert (22-2). Carroll, which entered the week ranked No. 8 in the Division III Central Region rankings, is on the bubble. Three of Carroll's losses have come to St. Norbert.

Whitworth held serve in the Northwest Conference late Saturday night, keeping Pacific Lutheran from winning the conference's automatic bid and potentially turning the NWC into a three-bid league. Kenny Love scored a game-high 23 and the Pirates (26-1) held the Lutes to 4-for-16 3-point shooting in a 75-62 win.

Christopher Newport and Salisbury had a battle for the Capital Athletic Conference title, but again, in a conference where both teams should advance. Neither team led by more than six points the entire afternoon. After Adrien Straughn tied the game with a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left in overtime, Aaron McFarland got fouled on a putback and made one of two free throws to secure the 68-67 win. CNU improved to 26-1, while Salisbury fell to 21-6, with three of the losses to CNU. 

John Carroll and Marietta had a similar battle in the Ohio Athletic Conference, similarly a conference that was already going to get two bids. John Carroll secured its bid by holding on down the stretch after giving up an 11-point second half lead. The Blue Streaks (25-3) missed the front end of consecutive 1-and-1 foul situations in the final 10 seconds but held on to win 87-85 when Marietta could not get a shot off after having to go the length of the floor with 3.8 seconds left. Ryan Farragher and David Linane shared team-high honors with 18 points apiece for John Carroll.

Jake Sinicki scored 26, Joey Lufkin added 24 and Trevor Norton chipped in 22 points as Hartwick played its way into the NCAA Tournament with a 93-91 win at St. John Fisher in the Empire 8 tournament final. Fisher, which was the top seed in the conference tournament, entered the week as the No. 4 team in the East Region rankings, but will likely be waiting behind Plattsburgh State, Rochester and NYU. 

Alma held serve in the MIAA and finished off Trine, making sure the conference at least wouldn't soak up a second at-large bid. Trine, which knocked off Hope on Friday, fell to Alma 62-54 as Alma booked a trip to the Division III men's basketball NCAA Tournament for the first time

Top-seeded Johnson and Wales defeated third-seeded Albertus Magnus and made sure the Great Northeast Athletic Conference remained a one-bid league, defeating the Falcons 86-75. Tom Garrick had a game-high 33 and Quarry Greenaway added 29 for the Wildcats, who improved to 26-2 and make their first trip to the Division III NCAA Tournament since 2011. J&W led by as many as 17 points in the second half.

Westminster (Mo.) won the SLIAC tournament championship battle of sub-.500 teams and will enter the NCAA Tournament at 12-15 overall as the Blue Jays defeated Spalding 61-59. Westminster, which got 24 points from Nick Carlos, is in the tournament for the first time since 2012. Expect Westminster to be sent to Augustana in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Covenant's 18 wins are its most in the program's short D-III tenure.
Covenant athletics photo 

LaGrange rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit to force overtime, but it was all Covenant in the extra session as the Scots clinched their first-ever trip to the Division III NCAA Tournament with a 101-92 win in the USA South final. LaGrange trailed 61-42 with 13:26 left in the second half but Mark Wagner scored 17 points the rest of the half to help the Panthers tie the game at 83-83. But Bailey Spragg and Patjo Twagirayezu each scored five in the extra session for the Scots (18-9). Berto Dryden led Covenant with 22 points.

Hardin-Simmons clinched its first trip to the Division III NCAA Tournament as well, defeating Louisiana College 91-79 in the ASC tournament final at Sul Ross State. Christian O'Neal scored a game-high 20 points and added a game-high five assists off the bench for the Cowboys, shooting 12-for-12 from the foul line.

Bryson Fonville went 8-for-8 from the foul line in the final 50 seconds and Catholic survived an onslaught from Josh Miller over the same span to win 83-80 and secure the Landmark Conference title. Miller's final 3 came at the buzzer to make the margin seem closer, but he scored 12 of his 32 points in the final 30 seconds. Susquehanna has hopes of getting one of the 19 at-large bids.

Delaware Valley returned to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence as the Aggies (20-7) defeated Wilkes 75-72 in a wild MAC Freedom tournament final in Doylestown, Pa. Steve Stravinski scored 27 points for Wilkes, the last of them on a 3-pointer with five seconds left to cut Del Val's lead to one, but Alex Matsinye hit both of his free throws to secure the victory. Wilkes, a Final Four team in's first season of 1998, has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2001. Chris Moran had 20 points to lead the Aggies.

The MAC Commonwealth title game came down to a scramble at the end. Up one with 30 seconds left, Lycoming missed a midrange jumper. Arcadia grabbed the board and had a chance to take the lead but Nycholas King stole the ball, scored the layup and got fouled. He missed the free throw and Arcadia scrambled up the floor for a quick layup, cutting the lead to 74-73 with 14.4 left. Lycoming threw the ball inbounds on a full court bomb to David Johnson and he made the layup to put the Warriors back up three. Arcadia turned the ball over on a double-dribble and Lycoming made two more free throws to ice the game and the title, 78-73. Lyco last made the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

Other conference clinchers

Saturday's semifinals

There are 12 men's automatic bids left to be handed out on Sunday.