Cyclones complete amazing tourney run
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Iowa State's unflappable bunch of comeback kids did it one more time.
Georges Niang scored 19 points, Abdel Nader made the go-ahead foul shots with 48 seconds to go, and the No. 13 Cyclones rallied from a 17-point second-half hole to beat ninth-ranked Kansas 70-66 in the Big 12 tournament championship.
It was the fifth straight game — including all three in the tournament — that the Cyclones rallied from a double-digit deficit, prompting Niang to dub them the "Comeback Kids."
"We got down 17 and they were still talking and positive in the huddle," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said, "and that's a great sign, when your guys can stick together through adversity."
Nader finished with 13 points, and Jameel McKay and Monte Morris had 11 each for the Cyclones (25-8), who also knocked off the Jayhawks on their way to winning the title a year ago.
Notre Dame quiets North Carolina fans
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jerian Grant scored 24 points and No. 11 Notre Dame took over with a 26-3 second-half run to rally past No. 19 North Carolina 90-82 in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
Pat Connaughton added 20 points for the third-seeded Irish (29-5). They went from trailing by nine to up double figures with a stunning burst that seized momentum in what amounted to a road game and sent the program to its first title in any league.
Connaughton came up with a pair of threes during Notre Dame's go-ahead run, with the Irish getting into a fast-paced, free-flowing attack set loose by a few ill-timed turnovers by the Tar Heels (24-11).
When it was over, Notre Dame had turned a 63-54 deficit into an 80-66 lead on Connaughton's dunk with 2:54 and largely silenced a home-state UNC crowd featuring plenty of blue in the Greensboro Coliseum seats.
Villanova repeats as Big East champ
NEW YORK – Josh Hart had 15 points in his latest brilliant performance off the bench, and top-seeded Villanova turned the Big East championship game into a blowout by beating Xavier 69-52 for its second tournament title.
Looking to lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs, the fourth-ranked Wildcats (32-2) made an impressive statement much to the delight of a pro-Villanova crowd at Madison Square Garden.
After squeezing past Providence 63-61 with the help of a questionable call in Friday night's semifinals, Villanova had no such trouble against the sixth-seeded Musketeers (21-13).
Dylan Ennis scored 16 points and Darrun Hilliard had 12, sending the Wildcats into the NCAA tournament on a 15-game winning streak.
Hart, who won the league's Sixth Man of the Year award, became the first Big East reserve to take home the tournament MVP trophy.
Albany says angels were watching
ALBANY, N.Y. – When the final buzzer sounded, Albany's Peter Hooley was mobbed on his home court, fans and teammates reacting in disbelief after his winning three-pointer.
Only six weeks after his mother had died of colon cancer, the junior star from Australia hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1.6 seconds left, giving the Great Danes (24-8) a stunning 51-50 victory over Stony Brook (23-11) and the America East tournament title for the third year in a row.
"When you've got angels watching, you can do anything," said Hooley of the only three Albany made all game.
The Great Danes improved to 5-0 in the title game.
Hooley missed eight games in the middle of the regular season to return to his native Australia to be with his dying mother. The team has worn "SH" patches on their left shoulders in honor of Sue Hooley, who died at 52 in late January.