The Washington Post

First Sun Belt title sends Dukes to the Big Dance



Peyton Mcdaniel made seven three-pointers and scored 30 points and Kiki Jefferson added 22 points as the top-seeded James Madison women beat second-seeded Texas State, 81-51, on Monday in Pensacola, Fla., for their first Sun Belt Conference tournament championsh­ip.

It was James Madison’s first trip to a conference tournament title game since the 2016-17 team fell to Elon in the Colonial Athletic Associatio­n final. The Dukes (26-7) will play in their first NCAA tournament since 2016.

Mcdaniel was 5 for 5 from long distance in the first half, and Jefferson made another three just before the halftime buzzer to give JMU a 38-28 lead. Jefferson made the Dukes’ 11th three-pointer in 14 attempts (78.6 percent) midway through the fourth for a 76-46 lead.

Mcdaniel finished 7 for 7 from behind the arc to set a career high for makes. Jefferson, the Sun Belt player of the year, went 4 for 5, and James Madison made a season-high 12 on 16 tries. Kseniia Kozlova added nine points and 10 rebounds for JMU.

The Dukes never trailed. Texas State tied it at 19 before Mcdaniel made three three-pointers in 53 seconds. James Madison had two 9-0 runs in the third quarter to pull away.

Da’nasia Hood, coming off a 30-point, 16-rebound performanc­e in the semifinals, was held to 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting for Texas State (23-9). Taelour Pruitt added 12 points, and Kennedy Taylor scored 10.

Texas State had won five straight since a 58-54 loss to James Madison on Feb. 16. The Bobcats were playing in the championsh­ip game for the first time since 2018. HOLY CROSS 73, AMERI

l CAN 44: Janelle Allen scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds to propel the top-seeded Crusaders past the seventh-seeded Eagles in the Patriot League tournament quarterfin­als in Worcester, Mass.

Holy Cross (22-8) will take on Lehigh in the semifinals Thursday.

Lauren Stack led the Eagles (9-22) with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

CONNECTICU­T 67, VILl LANOVA 56: Aaliyah Edwards had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead the seventh-ranked Huskies to their 10th consecutiv­e conference tournament title with a victory over the No. 10 Wildcats in the Big East final in Uncasville, Conn.

Dorka Juhasz added 16 points and Lou Lopez Sénéchal had 14 for top-seeded Connecticu­t (29-5), which has won 21 Big East tournament crowns, including the past three since returning to the conference in 2020.

Trailing 22-21 in the second quarter, the Huskies turned up their defense and outscored Villanova 13-2 over the final 6:09 of the half to go up 34-24 at the break. They put away the game by scoring 22 of the first 29 points in the third quarter.

Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats (28-6) with 22 points.

• GONZAGA 79, BYU 64: Yvonne Ejim had 21 points and 11 rebounds for her ninth career double-double and Brynna Maxwell added 18 points as the No. 16 Bulldogs defeated the Cougars in Las Vegas to advance to the title game of the West Coast Conference tournament.

Gonzaga (28-3) has won four straight in the series.

Nani Falatea, averaging 15.1 points, scored 13 of her 17 in the fourth quarter to lead BYU (16-16). Falatea didn’t make her first field goal until a steal and a fast-break layup with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter.

• UNLV 84, NEVADA 47: Justice Ethridge and Essence Booker scored 16 points apiece as the No. 21 Rebels rolled to their 20th straight victory by beating the Wolf Pack in the quarterfin­als of the Mountain West tournament.

Top-seeded UNLV (29-2), which posted an 18-0 record in conference play, advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals, in which it will play San Diego State.

Megan Ormiston scored 18 points for the Wolf Pack (10-21).

43 years later, Furman back in

Jalen Slawson scored 20 points as the top-seeded Furman men beat seventh-seeded Chattanoog­a, 88-79, in Asheville, N.C., to win the Southern Conference tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1980.

JP Pegues pitched in with 17 points for the Paladins (27-7) despite missing all seven of his threepoint attempts, and Mike Bothwell finished with 16 points, leaving him 10 shy of 2,000 for his career.

Jake Stephens paced the Mocs (18-17) with 25 points and two blocks.

• LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE 71, SOUTH ALABAMA 66: Themus Fulks scored a careerhigh 23 points and Jordan Brown had 13 points and 16 rebounds as the second-seeded Ragin’ Cajuns topped the eighth-seeded Jaguars in Pensacola, Fla., to claim the Sun Belt tournament championsh­ip.

The fifth NCAA berth for Louisiana Lafayette (26-7) will be the team’s first since 2014.

Isaiah Moore scored a careerhigh 33 points for South Alabama (19-16).

• ST. MARY’S 76, BYU 69: Alex Ducas had 23 points to lead four players in double figures for the No. 16 Gaels, who held off the Cougars in a West Coast Conference semifinal in Las Vegas.

St. Mary’s (26-6) will play in its fourth WCC title game in five years Tuesday. It will face ninth-ranked Gonzaga or San Francisco. Spencer Johnson led BYU (19-15) with 13 points.

Williams will lead Texas Tech

Texas Tech named second-year assistant Corey Williams as its interim coach for the Big 12 tournament as it continues its investigat­ion of suspended coach Mark Adams.

Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt said he was doing a more thorough inquiry of Adams’s interactio­ns with his players and staff after the coach’s suspension for what the school said was the “use of an inappropri­ate, unacceptab­le, and racially insensitiv­e comment” when addressing a player last week.

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