Conference races have heated up as we approach the end of the regular season. What games had the biggest impacts on Saturday?
Dayton rallies to keep pace in the A-10
The Dayton Flyers trailed St. Bonaventure at halftime, but were able to mount a comeback and escaped with a 76-72 victory.
Jaylen Adams led the way for the Bonnies as they jumped out to a first-half lead and took a six-point advantage into halftime. Adams paced all scorers with 35 points, which included a 15-17 free throw shooting performance. But his effort was not enough for St. Bonaventure, as its lead slipped away in the second half.
The Flyers opened up the second half on an 11-1 run capped off with a Darrell Davis three. That run put Dayton in a position to control the second half. While they never truly put St. Bonaventure away, Dayton led for most of the second half. An Adams three pulled the Bonnies to within two with just three seconds left, but Davis again came through with two key free throws to ice the game.
Scoochie Smith ended the day as the Flyers’ leading scorer with 19 points and helped Dayton keep up with VCU atop the A-10 standings. Both teams will end the weekend at 12-2 in what has become a two-team race.
#A10MBB Highlights from @DaytonMBB 76-72 win over @BonniesMBB - Tight finish thanks to Jaylen Adams (check out his 3-pointer from Olean!) pic.twitter.com/j2avofGZEl— Atlantic 10 MBB (@A10MBB) February 18, 2017
Buzzer beaters in the #FunBelt
Two games ended on wild shots at the buzzer in the Sun Belt on Saturday. You can check both of them out here.
The most important of the two in terms of conference championship standings came on Erick Neal’s deep three with less than a second to play, securing a half-game lead for the Mavericks over the rest of the field.
UT Arlington now sits at 10-3 while Georgia Southern and Arkansas State both sport 10-4 records. UT Arlington’s next game will be at Georgia Southern on Monday night. Then Arkansas State will host Georgia Southern on Saturday. The Sun Belt race could be decided this week or it could remain just as tight as it stands now. There is a reason they call it the Fun Belt.
A new leader in the Big Sky
First place in the Big Sky was on the line Saturday when Weber State played host to North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks used a strong second half to win 77-68.
Quinton Hooker led the North Dakota scoring effort with 22 points. He also pitched in with eight rebounds to help the Fighting Hawks win the rebounding battle.
The win vaults North Dakota over Weber State into first place in the Big Sky. Weber State has led much of the way this season, but the loss puts them a half-game back of North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks also swept the season series with Saturday’s win, giving them the tiebreaker over the Wildcats. To make matters even worse for the Wildcats, Weber State must turn around and face third-place Eastern Washington on the road. North Dakota’s remaining schedule should make it the new favorite to win the Big Sky.
Big games in the Big South
Liberty entered Saturday tied with UNC Asheville for Big South supremacy. By the end of the day, UNC Asheville stood alone in first.
The Liberty Flames traveled to Winthrop and were soundly defeated by the Eagles, 84-67. Winthrop star Keon Johnson poured in 24 points while Xavier Cooks contributed a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Winthrop victory improved its record to 13-3, good enough to pull into a tie with Liberty.
Winthrop’s win also created an opportunity for UNC Asheville to secure sole possession of first place. The Bulldogs took advantage with a 66-53 win at Campbell. UNC Asheville’s defense held Campbell to just 12 first-half points. On the offensive end, the Bulldogs were led by David Robertson, who tallied 23 points, including seven three pointers.
As the Big South enters its final week of regular season play, UNC Asheville sits in first with a one-game lead over both Winthrop and Liberty. The Bulldogs are in control, but must still face a Gardner-Webb team on the road that took them to overtime in their first meeting. UNC Asheville then hosts Liberty to close the season.
Other finals of note
- Florida Gulf Coast 97, USC Upstate 89 (OT)
The Eagles maintained their one-game lead over Lipscomb in the Atlantic Sun.
- CSU Fullerton 79, UC Davis 72
- UC Irvine 79, UC Riverside 60
UC Irvine took over sole possession of first in the Big West with the win and UC Davis’s loss.
- Middle Tennessee 97, Marshall 86
The Blue Raiders kept their two-game lead over the CUSA field with the win.
- UNC Wilmington 83, Hofstra 76
- College of Charleston 85, Northeastern 71
UNC Wilmington remained in first place in the CAA, but Charleston stayed hot on their heels just a game behind.
- Princeton 66, Brown 51
The Tigers stayed undefeated in the Ivy League.
- NC Central 82, Maryland-Eastern Shore 69
- Norfolk State 77, Florida A&M 65
NC Central and Norfolk State kept the MEAC race tight. NC Central is still up by half a game.
- Wichita State 73, Northern Iowa 44
The Shockers dominated UNI and temporarily pulled a half game ahead of Illinois State in the MVC.
- Boise State 91, Wyoming 87
- Nevada 77, Utah State 66
Wins by both Boise State and Nevada kept them tied for first in the Mountain West with Colorado State.
- Texas Southern 78, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 40
- Alcorn State 75, Alabama State 67
The SWAC has become a little less certain as Alcorn State continued to keep the race tight, sitting just a half game behind Texas Southern after Saturday’s results.
- UNC Greensboro 73, Furman 52
- East Tennessee State 65, Chattanooga 51
The SoCon got a bit more interesting on Saturday. The ETSU win paired with Furman’s loss pulled the Buccaneers to within a half game of first place.
- South Dakota 86, Oral Roberts 72
- North Dakota State 100, Western Illinois 91 (2OT)
South Dakota and North Dakota State remained tied atop the Summit League.
- CSU Bakersfield 51, Seattle 48
- New Mexico State 107, UT Rio Grande Valley 101
The Roadrunners clung to first place in the WAC while New Mexico State remained a threat.
- Gonzaga 82, Pacific 61
Gonzaga’s chase for perfection stayed alive.