Blue Hens trim Tribe for CAA

DAVID GINSBURG AP Sports Writer Published:

BALTIMORE -- Delaware guard Devon Saddler is headed to the NCAA tournament. A few years from now, the kid just might find himself working as a basketball coach.

Saddler showed his prowess as a strategist in the closing seconds of the Colonial Athletic Association championship Monday night, and the result was a 75-74 victory over William & Mary that thrust the Blue Hens into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Delaware trailed by a point when coach Monte Ross gathered his team to draw up a play with 25 seconds left. Ross wanted to have Saddler, the Blue Hens' all-time leading scorer, take the pivotal shot.

"The first thing he said was, 'Get the ball inside to Bap,'" Ross said.

Good move.

Carl Baptiste made the go-ahead layup with 10 seconds left, and not long after that the Blue Hens (25-9) were cutting down the nets at the Baltimore Arena to celebrate their fifth trip to the NCAA tournament.

"We've had a heck of a year," Ross said. "To cap it off like this is really special."

The Hens, who previously qualified in 1992, 1993, 1998 and 1999, were making their first appearance in a league championship since losing to Hofstra in the 2001 America East tournament.

This one wasn't easy. Delaware trailed 74-68 with 1:20 left before scoring the game's last seven points. After Saddler made two foul shots, Jarvis Threatt added a three-point play and Baptiste finished the comeback with a bullish layup.

"I tell you what, it was crowded in there when we got it to him, but he powered it into the basket," Ross said.

William & Mary had one last chance, but Marcus Thornton bounced a jumper off the rim just before the buzzer sounded. An instant later, Hens fans rushed the court to celebrate with the team.

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE

WOFFORD 56, WESTERN CAROLINA 53

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Karl Cochran scored 23 points, and Wofford beat Western Carolina 56-53 to capture the Southern Conference championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Cochran, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, was 8 of 16 from the field and had five 3-pointers. He made two big free throws with 5.3 seconds left to give Wofford a three-point lead.

The Catamounts, which never led, had a chance to send the game to overtime but Trey Sumler's 3-pointer rimmed out as time expired.

MAAC

MANHATTAN 71, IONA 68

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Manhattan's first trip to the NCAA tournament in a decade came at the expense of rival Iona one year after the Gaels beat the Jaspers for the conference championship.

Beamon scored 16 points and Manhattan beat Iona 71-68 on for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title.

MAC

FIRST ROUND

NORTHERN ILLINOIS 54, BOWLING GREEN 51 OT

DEKALB, Ill. -- Jordan Threloff split a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left in overtime for the games' final point as seventh-seeded Northern Illinois beat No. 10 seed Bowling Green 54-51 in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

Jehvon Clarke's game-tying 3-point attempt was off the mark.

MIAMI 71, KENT STATE 64

OXFORD -- Willie Moore scored 17 points and eighth-seeded Miami (Ohio) held off ninth-seeded Kent State in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

The Redhawks (13-17) advance to play fifth-seeded Ohio in the second round when the tournament resumes Wednesday in Cleveland.

EASTERN MICHIGAN 72, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 60

YIPSILANTI, Mich. -- Karrington Ward scored 20 points, hitting 6 of 9 3-pointers, as sixth-seeded Eastern Michigan pulled away from 11-seed Central Michigan on Monday in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

The Eagles will play seventh-seeded Northern Illinois on Wednesday when the tournament resumes in Cleveland.

OHIO 76, BALL STATE 64

ATHENS -- Nick Kellogg scored 17 points as No. 5 seed Ohio beat 12th-seeded Ball State 76-64 in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

Ohio led by as many as 18 in the second half until Ball State cut it to 10 points with 4:24 left. Then Kellogg made a 3-pointer during a 7-0 run to put the game out of reach.

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