Abilene Christian wins Southland for 1st NCAA berth
KATY, Texas (AP) - Jaren Lewis had 20 points and six rebounds, Jaylen Franklin added 16 points and six assists and Abilene Christian beat New Orleans 77-60 on Saturday night in the Southland Conference championship game for its first NCAA Tournament berth.
Lewis shot 10 of 17 from the field. Hayden Farquhar had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Joe Pleasant scored 14 points for Abilene Christian (27-6). The Wildcats won their sixth straight, shooting 56 percent.
The Wildcat have been in Division I for six years and were making their first appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament. They last won a conference championship in 1987, taking the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference championship.
Bryson Robinson scored 14 points, and Scott Plaisance added 13 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans (19-13). The Privateers were looking for their second NCAA Tournament berth in three years and sixth overall after advancing to the tournament in 2017. New Orleans shot 40 percent and committed 20 turnovers.
The Wildcats used an 18-2 run over an 8 1/2-minute stretch of the first half to take a 32-17 on Franklin's 3-pointerf. Lewis had six points to lead the run. New Orleans responded with a 9-2 spurt, cutting the lead to eight on Robinson's 3-pointer with 3 1.2 minutes remaining the half.
Abilene Christian led 40-29 at the half behind 58 percent shooting from the field. New Orleans could get no closer than eight in the second half.
New Orleans: The fourth-seeded Privateers were playing their third game in three days. They advanced to the title game with wins over Lamar and top-seeded Sam Houston State. ... The Privateers started 5 of 7 from the field, but finished the first half 5 of 17.
Abilene Christian: The Wildcats controlled the paint, outscoring New Orleans 48-28. ... The Wildcats turned New Orleans' 20 turnovers into 13 points.
NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY
With 10 1/2 minutes left in the second half, the game was delayed for about five minutes as the officials worked to turn off a photographer's flash that was in the rafters.
New Orleans: The Privateers will await a possible postseason invitation.
Abilene Christian: The Wildcats will compete in the NCAA Tournament next week.
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