Late Night Snacks: No. 7 Gonzaga, three other teams claim automatic bids

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Robert Morris 66, St. Francis-Brooklyn 63

One night after William & Mary fell short of its goal of earning the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament bid, NEC regular season champion St. Francis-Brooklyn met the same fate on their home floor. Rodney Pryor led five Colonials in double figures with 17 points and Elijah Minnie grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go along with his 14 points. Tyreek Jewell had a chance to tie the game with three free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining, but he missed the first two and missed the third intentionally.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 7 Gonzaga 91, BYU 75

The Bulldogs avenged their lone WCC loss Tuesday night, and WCC Defensive Player of the Year Gary Bell Jr. was a key reason why. Bell was the primary defender on BYU’s Tyler Haws, who scored 15 points but did so on 6-for-14 shooting. Six Bulldogs finished in double figures, led by Kyle Wiltjer who scored 18 points and grabbed ten rebounds, and BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth led all scorers with 28 points. While Gonzaga will likely be a two-seed, an anxious five-day wait begins for BYU.

2. Valparaiso 54, Green Bay 44

Both teams defended well but the Crusaders were just a bit better on that end, as the limited the Phoenix to 30.2 percent shooting. David Skara scored 12 points off the bench and E.Victor Nickerson added 11 for Valparaiso, whose head coach (Bryce Drew) was on the team that’s responsible for both of the program’s NCAA tournament victories (1998). Keifer Sykes scored 14 points for Green Bay but he shot 5-for-15 from the field, and Carrington Love made just one of his ten shots from the field.

3. North Dakota State 57, South Dakota State 56

Lawrence Alexander scored 25 points, with 16 coming in the second half, to lead North Dakota State to its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Both teams were solid defensively, but the Bison holding the Jackrabbits to less than 32 percent from the field gave them the upper hand. Cody Larson led South Dakota State with 19 points.

STARRED

1. Virginia Tech’s Jalen Hudson

Hudson scored 32 points and made the game-winning shot in the Hokies’ one-point win over Wake Forest.

2. Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan

Like Hudson, Hanlan’s late-game heroics were the difference in a one-point win. Hanlan scored 25 points in a 66-65 win over Georgia Tech.

3. Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer

Wiltjer scored 18 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 91-75 win over BYU.

4. North Dakota State’s Lawrence Alexander

Alexander scored 25 points, shooting 6-for-9 from three, in the Bison’s 57-56 win over South Dakota State.

STRUGGLED

1. Georgia Tech’s Quinton Stephens

Stephens struggled mightily in the Yellow Jackets’ loss to Boston College, shooting 1-for-12 from the field.

2. Green Bay’s Carrington Love

Love shot 1-for-10 from the field in Green Bay’s 54-44 loss at Valparaiso in the Horizon League title game.

3. South Dakota State’s George Marshall

Marshall scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds, but he shot just 2-for-11 from the field in the Jackrabbits’ loss to North Dakota State.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • ACC first round: There were two one-point games in Greensboro Tuesday, with Boston College beating Georgia Tech 66-65 on an Olivier Hanlan jumper with 10.9 seconds remaining and Virginia Tech beating Wake Forest 81-80. Jalen Hudson, who scored 32 points, gave the Hokies the win with a shot with 11.7 seconds remaining. Wednesday’s second round: Florida State vs. Clemson, Boston College vs. No. 19 North Carolina, Pittsburgh vs. NC State and Virginia Tech vs. Miami.
  • MEAC first round: Coppin State and South Carolina State were the two winners in Norfolk, with the Eagles holding off Bethune-Cookman 64-60 and the Bulldogs beating North Carolina A&T 63-54. Wednesday’s quarterfinals: Coppin State vs. North Carolina Central, South Carolina State vs. Norfolk State.
  • SWAC first round: Alcorn State won the lone game, beating Grambling State 66-52. Next up for the Hornets is top seed Texas Southern. Wednesday’s quarterfinals: Alcorn State vs. Texas Southern, Mississippi Valley State vs. Alabama State.

– Also, Princeton beat rival Penn 73-52 in what was the final game for Penn head coach Jerome Allen. Princeton’s Hans Brase led all scorers with 18 points.