- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two schools earned their first NCAA tournament bids on Saturday.

Binghamton, which has only been in Division I since 2001, beat Maryland-Baltimore County 61-51 to claim the America East’s automatic bid. Later, Morgan State beat Norfolk State 83-69 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

“We just persevered and fought all year long,” said Binghamton’s Kevin Broadus, conference coach of the year in just his second year. “This year was an unbelievable ride for me personally. These guys coached me. These guys showed me what a true champion is all about.”

The schools had to wait a day to see which college hoops goliath they draw in the first round.

Some of those likely high seeds took their conference titles: No. 4 Memphis demolished Tulsa 64-39 in the Conference USA title game, and No. 14 Missouri ended the hopes of upstart Baylor, which won three games in three days before succumbing to the Tigers 73-60.

Southern California swiped an autobid, though, by upsetting No. 23 Arizona 66-63 in the Pac-10 championship.

Louisville, a lock for the tournament win or lose, ended Syracuse’s run to the Big East final, beating the Orange 76-66 _ in regulation this time. Syracuse outlasting Connecticut in six overtimes Friday night and needed one more OT to get past West Virginia in the semifinals.

Akron finally won the Mid-American Conference title after losses in the final the past two years, knocking off Buffalo 65-53 to get back to the tournament for the first time since 1986.

Utah earned the Mountain West bid, beating San Diego State 52-50, and Temple made it back to the NCAA for the second straight year, winning the Atlantic 10 over Duquesne 69-64.

In the Western Athletic Conference, Utah State ratified its regular-season title by beating Nevada 72-62 in the tournament championship.

Alabama State beat Jackson State 65-58 for the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s bid.

In the Big West, Cal State Northridge beat Pacific 71-66 in overtime to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001, when the Matadors won the Big Sky tournament.

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