College basketball: Hofstra clinches first NCAA tournament berth in 19 years

March 11 (UPI) — Hofstra clinched their first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament berth since 2001 by beating Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic Conference tournament title game.

Desure Buie scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Pride to the 70-61 triumph Tuesday at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. Eli Pemberton and Jalen Ray chipped in 19 and 17 points, respectively, for the Pride.

“It’s just euphoric,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich told reporters. “To be sitting up here with these guys and to be with these guys every day is a blessing. It is kind of humbling. We are going to enjoy every second and let it sink in.

“Champions win championships.”

A large disparity at the free throw line helped the Pride secure the tournament berth. Hofstra made 16 of 17 free throw attempts, while Northeastern made 1 of 2 free throw attempts.

Maxime Boursiquot led Northeastern with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Northeastern led by as many as eight points in the first half before taking a 30-28 lead into the break. Ray made a 3-pointer to give the Pride a 49-48 lead with 6:54 remaining and Hofstra never lost the lead. Northeastern cut Hofstra’s advantage to two points with 4:57 to go before Buie buried several big shots to secure the victory.

Buie made a jump shot with 3:44 remaining to push Hofstra’s lead back to four points. He made a layup and a free throw a few minutes later to increase the advantage to nine points. Buie then swished a 3-pointer with 1:36 remaining to give the Pride a 10-point edge. He also made several key free throws in the final seconds.

“I was struggling for a little bit, but my teammates told me to get the ball and make something happen,” Buie said. “They drew up a play for me and I made something happen. That’s a credit to my teammates and coaches.”

Hofstra became one of the 32 conference champions to receive an automatic bid into the tournament with the win over Northeastern. The remaining 36 at-large teams in the 68-team tournament will be announced during the annual selection show at 6 p.m. EDT Sunday on CBS.

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