WCC Basketball Tournament - Championship

Late Night Snacks: Five more tickets punched to the NCAAs

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Five more teams took their tickets to the Big Dance and the respective conference tournament titles that came with it on Monday night. Gonzaga fulfilled the prophecy, Western Kentucky came out of nowhere for the second straight season, James Madison knocked off the top seed and a number of others made their way to the NCAA Tournament. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the Night

No. 1 Gonzaga 65, St. Mary’s 51 – The Bulldogs made it a clean sweep of the Gaels this season. Kelly Olynyk owned the paint and Matthew Dellavedova was limited offensively by the stout perimeter defense of Kevin Pangos and David Stockton. Gonzaga shot 52.1-percent overall and held St. Mary’s to 35.7-percent shooting.

Games of Note

Western Kentucky 65, Florida International 63 – Ray Harper does it again. The Hilltoppers came out of nowhere last season with a losing record to win the Sun Belt Conference, and this year they got their 20th win and won their second straight Sun Belt title as a six seed, holding off the Golden Panthers down the stretch.

James Madison 70, Northeastern 57 – A.J. Davis scored a game-high 26 points to help the Dukes get past the Huskies for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1994 with the CAA Tournament championship.

Iona 60, Manhattan 57 – The Jaspers were looking for a Cinderella story of their own with a 14-17 record, but a big game from Tre Bowman and 14 points from Lamont ‘Momo’ Jones were enough to push the Gaels past Manhattan in the MAAC title game.

Davidson 74, Charleston 55 – It’s a tale we’ve learned to live by. It’s a risk to bet against Bob McKillop and the Wildcats. Four starters finished in double-figures, led by 24 points from De’Mon Brooks, who briefly left the game with an injury.

Starred

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga – The WCC Player of the Year finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs in the WCC title game win over St. Mary’s.

George Fant, Western Kentucky – The homegrown product from Bowling Green finished with a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Hilltoppers win.

Tre Bowman, Iona – The biggest sixth man performance of the night came from Bowman, who scored 20 points to go with five rebounds and three steals off the bench in the MAAC title game for the Gaels.

A.J. Davis, James Madison – Davis was the clutch performer for the Dukes with 26 points in their win over Northeastern.

Struggled

Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary’s – The former WCC Player of the Year keeps struggling against the Zags. He finished with two points on 1-for-8 shooting. He averages 16.2 per game.

Quincy Ford, Northeastern – The Huskies sophomore forward averages 12.8 points per game and was held scoreless in Northeastern’s loss to James Madison.

Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Nate Wolters, South Dakota State – I’ve been waiting to put him here. In the victory over Fort Wayne in the first round of the Summit League Tournament, the do-it-all senior had 18 points, 12 assists and five rebounds in 40 minutes.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Rick Pitino: ‘We should be penalized … but not this team’

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.

Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.

How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?

Well, it seems.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.

And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”

He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.

But credit the Cardinals for responding.

Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.

Oklahoma State without Jawun Evans, questionable moving forward

Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) goes up for a shot between Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Oklahoma State won 86-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.

Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.

According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.

Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.