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.
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.
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.
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.
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.