Jeron Belin scored 17 points and St. Peter’s beat Iona last night in Bridgeport, Conn., 62-57, to win the MAAC championship and secure the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 years.
Nick Leon added 15 points for the fourth-seeded Peacocks (20-13), who upset top-seeded Fairfield in the semifinals, 62-48.
Michael Glover had 23 points for Iona, which came in averaging almost 80 points per game and was held to a season-low. The Gaels had won nine in a row and came in off two blowout tournament wins, 94-64 over Siena and 83-59 over Rider.
Iona trailed by as many as 12 in the second half before mounting a furious comeback that fell short.
CAA final — Frank Hassell scored 22 points and Old Dominion withstood a furious second-half rally by Virginia Commonwealth and defended its tournament title in Richmond with a 70-65 victory. Kent Bazemore added 14 points as the Monarchs (27-6) won their ninth straight — and the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth, likely depriving the CAA of its first three-team contingent in the field of 68. Regular-season champion George Mason is expected to receive an at-large invitation. The Rams (23-11) trailed by 18 in the second half, but got within 55-54 with 4:26 left before the Monarchs scored on consecutive possessions, rebuilding the lead to 5, and hung on.
Southern final — Cameron Rundles scored 21 points to send Wofford to a second straight NCAA Tournament with a 77-67 victory over College of Charleston in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Terriers (21-12) won their eighth straight game in part because they were perfect at the free throw line until the final minute, hitting their first 20 shots. Charleston (24-10) missed its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1999 and coach Bobby Cremins’s first since he last took Georgia Tech in 1996.
West Coast final — Robert Sacre scored 12 points, including a dunk and six late free throws, and Gonzaga beat Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas, 75-63, to win the conference tournament for the second time in three years. The Bulldogs (24-9) received an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament for their 13th straight appearance. Saint Mary’s (24-8) will have to hope for an at-large berth.
Summit semifinals — Drew Valentine recorded a double-double and Oakland set a season-high point total in a 110-90 victory over South Dakota State (19-12) in Sioux Falls, S.D. Valentine finished with a career-high 24 points to go with 11 rebounds for the Golden Grizzlies (24-9), who advanced to their third straight conference championship game and will meet Oral Roberts, which beat IUPUI, 83-77.
Sun Belt semifinals — Tristan Thompson scored 28 points to lead defending champion North Texas (22-10) to an 81-62 win over Western Kentucky (16-16) in Hot Springs, Ark. . . . Solomon Bozeman scored 23 points and Arkansas-Little Rock advanced to the championship game with a 65-56 win over Middle Tennessee (16-16). The Trojans (18-16) have never won the tournament and are making their first appearance in the title game since 1996.