College basketball: North Texas tops Troy, earns Sun Belt NCAA bid

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark.  — Josh White’s shot from near the free-throw line with 22 seconds remaining gave North Texas a 66-63 win over Troy on Tuesday night in the Sun Belt tournament championship game.

Troy (20-12) rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second half, but the 5-foot-10 White’s shot broke a 63-63 tie and sent the Mean Green (24-8) to the NCAA tournament.

Brandon Hazzard drove to the basket trying to tie it in the final seconds, but Shannon Shorter blocked the shot and the ball went out of bounds off Troy. White was fouled with 2.9 seconds remaining and made one free throw. After he missed his second attempt, Troy’s Michael Vogler tried a desperation shot from midcourt that wasn’t close.

Second-seeded North Texas has won 11 straight and snapped a seven-game winning streak for top-seeded Troy.

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Eric Tramiel led North Texas with 20 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, but it was White who made the biggest plays down the stretch. When it was over, he went racing off the court to hug a supporter in the crowd as the celebration began.

Hazzard scored 15 points for Troy, including two free throws with 53.4 seconds left that tied the game.

North Texas won the Sun Belt tournament for the first time since 2007.

Troy led 40-38 after a fast-paced first half that included 12 lead changes and six ties. The Trojans shot 55 percent in the first half, but they couldn’t keep North Texas off the free-throw line. The Mean Green, who entered averaging around 20 points per game from the line, were 11 of 14 in the first half.

Troy missed 12 of its first 13 shots in the second half, allowing North Texas to make the game’s first critical run. The Mean Green scored seven straight points, including two baskets by Tramiel and a 3-pointer by White, to go ahead 51-44.

The Trojans made it to the title game with an effective zone defense, but they had a hard time solving North Texas’ zone in the second half. White gave the Mean Green their biggest lead with a 3-pointer that made it 59-51, then pointed toward the fans in one corner on his way back on defense.

Troy fought back, and Hazzard’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to two at 61-59. Although he appeared to hurt his right ankle on the play, Hazzard was able to keep playing. Yamene Coleman then scored inside to tie it at 61.

Tramiel tipped in his own miss to put North Texas back ahead, but Hazzard tied it from the free-throw line with under a minute left.

Oakland wins Summit bid

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Derick Nelson scored a career-high 36 points and slow-starting Oakland, Mich., defeated IUPUI 76-64 in the Summit League championship game to advance to the NCAA tournament Tuesday night.

The Grizzlies earned their second NCAA berth with their school-record 11th consecutive win. Their only other NCAA appearance was in 2005.

Playing with a broken nose he suffered in Oakland’s first-round win over UMKC, Nelson provided a spark after top-seeded Oakland missed its first eight shots against the No. 2 Jaguars.

Nelson turned a steal into a layup for Oakland’s first field goal five minutes into the game and then scored 11 straight points for his team.

Larry Wright added 16 points, and Keith Benson had 17 rebounds to go with his eight points.

Alex Young led IUPUI with 19 points, while Robert Glenn added 18 and Leroy Nobles 14.

Butler routs Wright St. for Horizon bid

INDIANAPOLIS  — Shelvin Mack scored all 14 of his points in the first half, and Matt Howard had 14 points and nine rebounds to help No. 12 Butler rout second-seeded Wright State 70-45 in the Horizon League title game Tuesday night.

Butler (28-4) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 20 and heads into NCAA play as the only Division I team to complete a perfect conference season.

The Raiders (20-12) were led by N’Gai Evans with 13 points. They lost for the third time this season to Butler and barely avoided setting a record for worst loss in a Horizon championship game with two free throws with 3.8 seconds to go. The record margin is 26 points, set in 1988.

Women’s basketball: Greene leads UConn to Big East title

HARTFORD, Conn.  — Kalana Greene scored 15 points to help top-ranked Connecticut rout No. 9 West Virginia 60-32 on Tuesday night for its 72nd straight win and 16th Big East tournament championship.

Greene made her first seven shots and grabbed 12 rebounds to earn most outstanding player honors for the tournament.

The Huskies have won five of the last six conference tournament titles and enter the NCAAs unbeaten for the fifth time in school history. UConn went on to win the national championship in 1995, 2002, and 2009. In 1996-97 they lost to Tennessee in the regional final. In all 11 teams have gone through the regular season unbeaten with five of them winning the national title.

UConn (33-0) stands six wins short of becoming the first team to go through consecutive seasons unbeaten. The Huskies surpassed their own NCAA record for consecutive wins on Monday night.

The Huskies, who have won both the regular season and conference tournament title the last three years and 14 times in school history, held West Virginia to the lowest total in a Big East championship game.

With All-Americans Maya Moore and Tina Charles having off-games, Greene and Tiffany Hayes carried the offense. Hayes finished with 15 points. Charles had 12 and Moore 10, but they combined to make just three of their first 22 shots.

UConn improved to 14-0 against top-10 opponents, winning by an average of 26.3 points.

The Huskies have now won the last 22 meetings with West Virginia, including an 80-47 rout at the XL Center on Feb. 2. In that game the Mountaineers played tough for 25 minutes before succumbing to the Huskies.

On Tuesday night, it looked like UConn would once again blow past West Virginia.

The Huskies, who have won every game during its record streak by double figures, used a 20-4 early run in the first half to turn a one-point lead into a 27-10 advantage with 6:42 left. The Mountaineers wouldn’t wilt, using their tenacious defense which allowed only 51.5 points coming into the game, to stick around.

West Virginia answered with a 18-6 spurt of its own spanning the half to close to 33-28 on Natalie Burton’s free throw with 15:32 left in the game. Liz Repella had eight points during the burst, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key that hit the front rim, bounced straight up and then in that made it 33-27 UConn. She finished with 10 points to lead West Virginia (28-5).

The Huskies then went on one of their typical runs. UConn scored 27 of the next 29 points to end any hopes of the upset.

The Huskies held West Virginia without a point for nearly the final 11 minutes until a meaningless layup with 28 seconds left.

Greene had six points during the spurt, and also a nifty pass to Moore for a layup off an offensive rebound that made it 49-30 with 8:51 left. Charles, who had missed seven of her first eight shots hit three foul line jumpers and a layup during the burst.

Caroline Doty was in her customary place in the starting lineup after suffering a scary head and neck injury during the Huskies’ NCAA-record 71st straight victory Monday night. The sophomore guard was inadvertently elbowed in the head by Notre Dame’s Ashley Barlow with 50 seconds left in Monday night’s game.

Doty didn’t show any outward signs of the injury, but was ineffective in her 16 minutes, scoring just one point.

West Virginia was making only its second trip to the championship game.

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