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Conference tournament recap: Old Dominion, Buffalo escape upset bids

Plus upheaval in the Southland.

NCAA Basketball: Bowling Green at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Some upsets were avoided on Friday — notably, Old Dominion and Buffalo — while others (looking at you, Nevada and Sam Houston State) were not. Get caught up on the action, and get set for an exciting championship Saturday.

Conference USA

No. 1 Old Dominion 61, UAB 59

The Monarchs survived thanks to some late heroics by Xavier Green, who converted a three-point play with four seconds left to lift Old Dominion to a win in the CUSA semifinals. Green finished with 21 points on 8 if 12 shooting, The Blazers held a nine-point lead with just under five minutes to go, but a couple big 3-pointers and some clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch set the stage for Green’s go-ahead basket in the final seconds.

No. 2 Western Kentucky 70, No. 3 Southern Miss 59

A double-double from Charles Bassey and a ridiculous 35-8 margin in free throws attempted helped the Hilltoppers reach the CUSA championship. WKU only converted at a 68 percent clip at the line, but when you have a 24-6 scoring advantage from free throws alone your chances of winning are pretty high. The Hilltoppers had four players score in double figures led by 18 points from Josh Anderson and 17 points from Taveion Hollingsworth. Bassey finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Mid-American Conference

No. 1 Buffalo 85, No. 5 Central Michigan 81: The Bulls trailed at the half and the Chippewas came out on fire in the second half, making six of their first seven shots to build a 61-53 lead. Buffalo slowly worked its way back and with the game tied at 76 with just under four minutes to play, C.J. Massinburg took over. He scored the Bulls last nine points, including making seven straight from the free-throw line. Massinburg had a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds, while Davonta Jordan added 16 points. All five Central Michigan starters finished in double figures led by Robert Montgomery with 17.

No. 3 Bowling Green 71, No. 7 Northern Illinois 67

Southland Conference

No. 4 New Orleans 79, No. 1 Sam Houston State 76: UNO coach Mark Slessinger has the Privateers one win away from their second trip to the NCAA tournament in four years after their upset win over top seed Sam Houston State. While there were five ties, New Orleans never trailed in the game. The Privateers simply matched the Bearkats step for step and got the big buckets when they needed to. Jorge Rosa led UNO with 18 points, while Josh Delaney had 20 for Sam Houston St. The Bearkats lost despite going a perfect 22-for-22 from the free-throw line.

No. 2 Abilene Christian 69, No. 3 SE Louisiana 66

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

No. 1 Norfolk State 75, No. 4 Howard 69: A rivalry win in the semifinals means that Norfolk State is one win away from punching its ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the Spartans upset No. 2 seeded Missouri in 2012. After losing to Howard on the final day of the regular season, Norfolk State trailed early in this game. But a pair of 9-0 runs led them to a 12-point halftime advantage. A late Howard run was quelled by a couple big shots from Stephen Whitley, who came off the bench to score a career-high 24 points in 28 minutes.

No. 3 NC Central 65, No. 2 North Carolina A&T 63


Atlantic 10


No. 8 Rhode Island 75, No. 1 VCU 70

No. 4 St. Bonaventure 68, No. 5 George Mason 57

No. 2 Davidson 70, No. 10 St. Joseph’s 60

No. 6 St. Louis 64, No. 3. Dayton 55

Big Sky


No. 1 Montana 78, No. 4 Weber State 49

No. 3 Eastern Washington 77, No. 7 Southern Utah 61

Big West


No. 1 UC Irvine, No. 5 Long Beach St.

No. 2 UCSB 64, No. 3 Cal State Fulerton 58

Mountain West


No. 4 San Diego State 65, No. 1 Nevada 56

No. 2 Utah St. 85, No. 3 Fresno St. 60



No. 1 Prairie View A&M 81, No. 4 Grambling St. 71

No. 2 Texas Southern 80, No. 6 Alabama A&M 66

Sun Belt


No. 4 Texas State 79, No. 8 South Alabama 67

No. 3 Georgia Southern 81, No. 7 ULM 67



No. 1 New Mexico St 79, No. 4 UTRGV 72

No. Grand Canyon 78, No. 2 Utah Valley 74