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Saturday Recap: The A-10 race stays tight, a new leader takes over in the WAC, and more

What you might have missed while Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s took center stage.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-CSU Bakersfield vs Oklahoma Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday was bursting with mid-major action. Most of the attention was on Saint Mary’s hosting Gonzaga, where the Bulldogs came away with a 74-64 win to maintain their perfect record.

But plenty has been written about that contest. Here is a look at Saturday’s other action that you may have missed (we can forgive you):

VCU and Richmond keep the A-10 close

VCU has had an interesting run of games recently. The Rams first beat St. Bonaventure after a controversial technical foul was assessed with less than a second on the clock. They followed that up by drawing a charge on an inbound pass, again with under a second to play, to beat George Washington.

That made Saturday’s 74-60 victory over Davidson a welcome reprieve from controversy. JeQuan Lewis turned in a 27-point performance for the Rams while Justin Tillman turned in a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds. The win allows VCU to keep pace with Dayton at 10-2 atop the A-10 standings after Dayton pulled off a thrilling win at Rhode Island on Friday night. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but the A-10 could be decided when VCU travels to Dayton on March 1.

The Richmond Spiders may still have something to say about how the A-10 race will end, however. Richmond traveled to Philadelphia and came away with a 64-52 victory over La Salle. T.J. Cline once again stuffed the stat sheet, racking up 21 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. The victory keeps the Spiders just a game out of first place, but they have also dropped games to both Dayton and VCU. They will get another shot at VCU this Friday in what could be a must-win if Richmond wants to capture the A-10 title.

Changing of the guard in the WAC

One week ago, New Mexico State appeared to be in firm control of the WAC; the Aggies were riding a 20-game winning streak and stood at 8-0 in conference play.

Just two games later, New Mexico State finds itself in second place, looking up at Cal State Bakersfield. The Roadrunners blew away the Aggies on Thursday night. Then, on Saturday, Grand Canyon pulled away from the Aggies in the second half to win 83-71. Senior DeWayne Russell poured in 31 points in the win for Grand Canyon.

That allowed CSU Bakersfield to slide into first place with a 75-53 win over UT Rio Grande Valley. The Roadrunners forced 20 turnovers and were led by 17 points from Damiyne Durham. CSU Bakersfield is now 8-1 and will be favored to win all five of its remaining games. More importantly, they don’t have to play New Mexico State again in the regular season. The path to the WAC regular season title now favors the Roadrunners.

Who wants to win the CAA?

The CAA race remains close after both of the top teams in the conference fell on Saturday.

College of Charleston dropped an 89-79 decision on the road at William & Mary. Omar Prewitt dropped 30 points for the Tribe in the win. Meanwhile, Charleston’s bench was outscored 18-0. The loss dropped the Cougars to 10-4 in conference play and gave UNC Wilmington a chance to pull away in the conference race.

The Seahawks, however, were unable to capitalize. UNC Wilmington was upended by a second-half comeback from Elon in a 77-76 road loss. The Phoenix were led with 24 points from Brian Dawkins and did an excellent job keeping the Seahawks off the free throw line. UNC Wilmington finished the game with only two free throw attempts, missing them both. The Seahawks maintain their hold on first place, but they are still only one game ahead of Charleston. The CAA is still up for grabs.

A crazy day in the Sun Belt

The Sun Belt race got a little more muddled on Saturday. At the end of the day, three teams were tied a 9-3 in first. Meanwhile, UT Arlington looms just half a game behind at 8-3.

Appalachian State picked up just its second conference win in an upset of Georgia State. The Panthers dropped to 9-3, as did both Georgia Southern and Arkansas State. Both teams fell on the road, the Eagles to Coastal Carolina and the Red Wolves to UT Arlington. An exciting finish and a wide-open conference tournament lie ahead in the Sun Belt.

Other games with conference race implications

Atlantic Sun

  • Lipscomb 97, Stetson 85
  • Florida Gulf Coast 75, Kennesaw State 63

The victories kept Lipscomb and FGCU tied for first. Lipscomb currently owns the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping third-place USC Upstate.

Big Sky

  • Weber State 96, Portland State 93
  • North Dakota 88, Idaho 65

Weber State held onto a half-game lead over North Dakota by avoiding the upset on Saturday.

Big South

  • UNC Asheville 91, Longwood 69
  • Liberty 76, Charleston Southern 69
  • Winthrop 77, Gardner-Webb 71

It is a three-team race in the Big South. UNC Asheville and Liberty stayed tied for first at 12-2 while Winthrop sits just a game behind them.

Big West

  • UC Davis 77, UC Riverside 63
  • UC Irvine 72, Hawaii 58

UC Davis maintained a half-game lead on UC Irvine.

Conference USA

  • Middle Tennessee 70, Charlotte 55

The Blue Raiders stayed two games up on the field.

Horizon

  • Valparaiso 82, Youngstown State 72

The Crusaders have a two-game lead over second-place Oakland after the win. The two teams meet on Friday.

Ivy

  • Princeton 61, Columbia 59
  • Harvard 75, Yale 67

Princeton stayed undefeated (narrowly) and has a two-game lead over Harvard and Yale for the league lead.

MEAC

  • NC Central 85, South Carolina State 62
  • Norfolk State 75, Maryland-Eastern Shore 69

NC Central remained in first place, but by just half a game over Norfolk State.

MVC

  • Illinois State 64, Bradley 50

The Redbirds slid into sole possession of first, pending the outcome of Wichita State’s game at Loyola on Sunday.

Mountain West

  • Boise State 76, Air Force 66
  • Colorado State 78, Fresno State 62

The top of the conference remains jumbled. Boise State pulled into first place but is just a half-game ahead of both Nevada and Colorado State.

NEC

  • Mount St. Mary’s 81, St. Francis (PA) 62

The Mountaineers have the NEC locked up with a three-game lead and only four left to play.

OVC

  • Tennessee Tech 83, Belmont 70

The Bruins are no longer undefeated in conference play, but they still have a commanding lead.

SWAC

  • Texas Southern 77, Grambling 70

The Tigers are still up by two games in the loss column.

Southern

  • Furman 90, Samford 73
  • East Tennessee State 88, Mercer 71

Furman is still in first, but ETSU stays just a game back.

Southland

  • New Orleans 60, SE Louisiana 52
  • Sam Houston State 72, Incarnate Word 63

The Privateers stayed a game ahead of Sam Houston State.

Summit

  • North Dakota State 81, Denver 63
  • South Dakota 91, South Dakota State 89

NDSU kept a slim, half-game lead over South Dakota.