UPDATE 11:52 p.m.
To close out the Big South quarterfinals, Myo Baxter-Bell lit the fire that sparked the Flames on their way to the semifinals. The late show was never in doubt as Liberty rolled, 73-59, with heavy bench support. Baxter-Bell led the way, going 7-7 for 14 of the 31 points off the bench.
Five Liberty players scored in double figures with the majority of the work being done on the interior. The Flames dominated Campbell inside, scoring 38 points in the paint. Scottie James was a force with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Chris Clemons became the only player to score 2,000 career points by his junior year in the history of the Big South conference, and he did his part to keep his team in the game with 23 points.
Here’s what you need to know about today’s happenings in the Patriot League:
No. 8 Loyola (MD) 78, No. 1 Bucknell 83
The grittiest game of the day was no doubt Loyola vs Bucknell, and it wasn’t shy of drama. The Bison were short three bench players due to a violation of team rules tonight but they managed to cut the game to five late in the game. Freshman Brent Holcombe especially came to play for Loyola, contributing a double-double for the first time well. But, Zach Thomas, no surprise, was the best player in the game with 27 points and 11 rebounds. In fact, he made it to the line 17 times, five more than Loyola’s whole squad.
No. 7 Lafayette 54, No. 2 Colgate 76
This one was never close. Colgate pulled away early, forcing turnovers (10 in the first half) and controlling the boards (44-26). Colgate starters combined for eight threes and were paced by Will Rayman, who seemed to do it all. He managed two threes, a perfect percentage from the line, four offensive rebounds and zero turnovers. Continued clutch play will be needed against the Crusaders.
No. 5 Boston University 88, No. 4 Lehigh 82
There may be no hotter team in the Patriot League than Boston University. The Terriers defeated a major championship contender tonight in Lehigh to win their sixth game in a row. Max Mahoney played his best game ever with 27 points. Overall, BU shot over 50 percent from the field with key contributions from Walter Whyte and Javante McCoy.
No. 6 Holy Cross 85, No. 3 Navy 61
On Janu. 20, Holy Cross was 0-6 in away games. Then they won four straight on the road, including their biggest victory yet: today’s quarterfinal game against Navy. And, the Crusaders won this thing almost singlehandedly in the second-half thanks to a 23-8 run and 74 percent shooting. Jehyve Floyd led the Crusaders with 20 points and fellow forward Jacob Grandison had 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
With Missouri State coach Paul Lusk facing an uncertain offseason, his Bears played a solid first half in the Missouri Valley’s Conference Tournament. MSU leads Valparaiso 39-30. The Bears have dominated the glass 23-15 and senior Jarrid Rhodes buried all three of his shot attempts from long distance to lead the Bears with 13 first-half points. Missouri State last won the MVC’s conference tournament in 1992. This is Valpo’s first season in the Valley.
UPDATE: 10:16 p.m.
The Lipscomb Bisons are headed to the ASUN Championship game for the first time since 2006. The Bisons defeated 3 seed Jacksonville by a score of 77 to 62 in their ASUN semifinal and will face Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday. The two teams split the season series, each winning a game on the opponent’s floor. Back in January, Florida Gulf Coast was down 18 points in the second half against Lipscomb, but mounted a furious comeback, and ended up winning. In the two teams’ most recent matchup, Lipscomb avenged its loss from earlier this season, but not without another late rally by FGCU.
So both times these two teams have met, Lipscomb jumped out to an early lead, and FGCU made it a tight game at the end. Each team looks to be hitting their stride offensively, with Garrison Mathews and Rob Marberry leading the way for the Bisons and the tandem of Brandon Goodwin and Zach Johnson doing the same for the Eagles. We should be in store for a great ASUN championship game on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN.
UPDATE 10:00 p.m.
Asheville, N.C. — The battle between the league’s two hottest teams came to a head inside Kimmel Arena. To end the regular season, both UNC Asheville and Charleston Southern went 7-2. With the help of their passionate fan base, the Bulldogs held off a late surge by the young Bucs for a 71-66 win to advance into the Big South semifinals.
It was an electric atmosphere as the Bulldog seniors showed their seasoned talent, led by Ahmad Thomas who finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and four steals and sealed the game with this beautiful pull-up jumper.
Raekwon Miller’s quest for the triple-double came up a rebound and an assist away, finishing with 12 points, nine boards, and nine assists.
Even in defeat, Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh reminded us of how this game we love truly impacts the lives of young people.
Senior Cortez Mitchell is scheduled to graduate on time and will be the first person in his family to do so. I just want to take the time to congratulate that young man and wish him the best on his life journey. You have inspired me and I’m sure hundreds of others who have seen or heard of your story.
UPDATE: 9:52 p.m.
Jacksonville State will get to defend its 2017 OVC Tournament crown for another day.
Indeed, the Gamecocks will get their shot at 1 seed Murray State tomorrow evening after taking down Tennessee Tech tonight. While the Golden Eagles only lost by a score of 73-70, the Gamecocks managed to outdo Tennessee State in nearly every facet of the game.
As you can see, the Gamecocks’ starters put on a clinic tonight, despite the teams’ foul trouble nearly costing the team the game.
UPDATE: 8:50 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast has officially punched its ticket to the ASUN Championship game on Sunday. Meanwhile in Nashville, Lipscomb is well on its way to doing the exact same.
In FGCU’s game against North Florida, Zach Johnson and Brandon Goodwin took over in the second half. Johnson finished with 17 points, including five made threes, and a thunderous slam at the tail end of the second half. Goodwin added 18 more. Also, the Eagles might have found a new option on offense after Michael Gilmore equaled a season high with his 16 points tonight. FGCU will host Sunday’s ASUN Championship game for the third straight year.
Lipscomb stretched its lead all the way to 22 at one point, but at halftime at Allen Arena, Jacksonville has cut it to a 14-point deficit. Lipscomb forward Eli Pepper definitely gave his team some energy with this dunk from the first half.
UPDATE: 8:27 p.m.
If you’re a Murray State fan who’s spending their Thursday night watching the OVC Tournament (of course you are), you’re mightily pleased by the halftime score of the Tennessee Tech-Jacksonville State matchup.
At the break, Jacksonville State leads Tennessee Tech 30-28 in a matchup that has been surprising close. Tennessee Tech is used to playing at a much quicker tempo than what the Gamecocks are allowing tonight, but it has not proved to be a major setback thus far.
What is making a difference, however, is the foul trouble that Jacksonville State found itself in quickly. They might have outshot the Golden Eagles by nearly 13 percentage points, but it’s the 12 made free throws for Tennessee Tech that have kept them close.
There’s no doubt that Murray State is definitely enjoying how tight this game is, and they’re certainly hoping that Tennessee Tech emerges victorious. After all, you’d rather face them again than Jacksonville State—a team that has already beaten the Racers once this season.
UPDATE: 8:24 p.m.
It’s 16:46 on the clock inside the Kimmel Arena in Asheville, N.C. where top-seed UNC Asheville’s point guard Raekwon Miller is officially on triple-double watch. Miller has posted seven points, six rebounds, and nine assists as the Bulldogs enjoy a 52-38 lead. His ability to create for the Bulldogs has opened up the perimeter for UNC Asheville to shoot 58 percent for the game thus far. Here’s to hoping Miller achieves a great task.
UPDATE: 7:51 p.m.
It’s halftime in Fort Myers, and if you’re not watching the ASUN Semifinal between FGCU and North Florida, you’re missing out on one of the best shootouts of the season thus far. FGCU is currently up 55-44 at halftime, but at the pace this game is being played, UNF is far from done. The two teams combined for 13 made threes in the first half.
The Ospreys started out strong by getting the ball to Noah Horchler in the paint, but FGCU has responded with going to Michael Gilmore, who already has ten points, and Christian Terrell, who has 13. It’s likely going to take 85+ points to win this semifinal, and move on to Sunday’s championship game.
We’ve hit that part of the year where college basketball has descended to a world of chaos. The Missouri Valley, ASUN, Patriot League, Big South, MAAC, Ohio Valley, and some mid-major in New York all play conference tournament games today.
It’s a lot.
Check in here throughout the night as our writers, who have scattered across the country to bring you all the Champ Week coverage, report on the latest happenings in the mid-major world.
Most conference’s games are available to stream on ESPN3 if you want to follow along. If you want to watch the Patriot League (and who wouldn’t?!), check out the Patriot League Network.
Oh, and some conferences are still battling through their regular seasons. The biggest non-tournament game of the night, without a doubt, comes to us from Conference USA, where Western Kentucky visits nationally ranked Middle Tennessee. It’s a huge game for both teams in an already-heated rivalry.
As a wise man likes to tell us, Here. We. Go.