Championship Week recap: Day 8’s best game, top player


Over the next 13 days, the brackets will start to take shape. Teams with no at-large aspirations will make one final push at the post-season. Teams on the bubble will look to assert themselves as worthy members of “The Big Dance”, and contenders will start priming their engines for a national Championship run. While “March Madness” officially begins following Selection Sunday, the real madness starts now.

Until Sunday, March 11,  this will be your home for Championship Week recaps and previews. The players and teams are starting to prepare for March Madness, so you should too.

Game of the Night: Davidson 93, Western Carolina 91 2OT
Western Carolina trailed by seven points with 46 seconds left, but James Sinclair and Trey Sumler hit back to back 3-pointers, and Keaton Cole sank three consecutive foul shots to send the game in to overtime. The teams traded baskets in overtime, but both squads missed chances to win the game. In double-overtime, Clint Mann scored on a transition dunk to put Davidson up 93-91, and Western Carolina missed both their chances to tie the game. Davidson punched their dance ticket for the firs time since the Steph Curry era.

– They were good too: Virginia Commonwealth 59, Drexel 56
The Dragons trailed by 13 points at halftime and were down 11 points with five minutes to go, but freshman Damion Lee led a furious comeback, scoring eight points in a three-minute span to cut the lead to four. After Chris Fouch hit a 3-pointer to trim the lead to just one, VCU junior Troy Daniels converted both of his foul shots, and Frantz Massenat missed a 3-pointer as time expired.

Player of the Night: Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
The Summit League sensation scored 30 or more points for the sixth time this season, as the Jackrabbits defeated Southern Utah 64-47 in the Summit League semifinals. In addition to shooting 59 percent (10-of-17) from the field, he grabbed seven rebounds and had six assists.

Team of the Night: Saint Mary’s Gaels
This was the first time in school history that the Gaels won the outright regular season championship and the conference tournament. The Gaels had lost to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament championship two out of the last three years. The Gaels dropped two of their final four regular season games, but enter the NCAA Tournament with plenty of momentum following the season-defining win over their arch-rivals. West Coast Conference Player of the Year Matthew Dellavedova lead the team with 22 points and Rob Jones added 18 points while grabbing nine rebounds.

– They were good too: Western Illinois
The Leathernecks knocked off the top-seeded Golden Eagles 54-53 in the Summit League semifinals, thanks to Terrell Parks’ jumper with 26 seconds left. Oral Roberts led by eight points with seven minutes to go, but Western Illinois held them scoreless for the final four minutes of the game. Parks led the way with 14 points, and added eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals. The Golden Eagles were the prohibitive favorites to win the Summit League tournament, but thanks to the shocking upset, will probably be on the outside looking in. The Leathernecks are just one win away from reaching their first NCAA appearance in school history.

Monday Results

Colonial Athletic Association Finals
#2 Virginia Commonwealth 59, #1 Drexel 56

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Finals
#2 Loyola (Md.) 48, #4 Fairfield 44

Mid-American Conference First Round
#12 Northern Illinois 55, #5 Eastern Michigan 52
#11 Central Michigan 54, #6 Bowling Green 53
#8 Western Michigan 69, #9 Ball State 63
#7 Toledo 60, #10 Miami 53

Southern Conference Finals
#1S Davidson 93, #3N Western Carolina 91 2OT

Summit League Semifinals
#4 Western Illinois 54, #1 Oral Roberts 53
#2 South Dakota State 63, #6 Southern Utah 47

Sun Belt Semifinals
#7 Western Kentucky 67, #3 Denver 63
#5 North Texas 76, #9 Arkansas State 72

West Coast Conference Finals
#1 Saint Mary’s 78, #2 Gonzaga 74 OT