Gardner-Webb earned its first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 76-65 win over host Radford on Sunday in the Big South Tournament.
Mar 10, 2019; St. Louis, MO, United States; Bradley Braves forward Elijah Childs (10) defends against Northern Iowa Panthers center Justin Dahl (15) during the first half in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship game at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports
DJ Laster led the Runnin’ Bulldogs (23-11) with 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting. Senior guard David Efianayi added 15 points, keyed by making all eight of his free throw attempts. Gardner-Webb shot 52.1 percent on the day.
The No. 4 seed entering the tournament, Gardner-Webb knocked off No. 1 Campbell in the semifinals before beating No. 2 Radford (22-11). Gardner-Webb becomes the fifth different school to represent the conference in the tournament in the past five years.
Bradley 57, Northern Iowa 54
In St. Louis, Elijah Childs scored 16 points and Bradley fought back from a 16-point deficit with 14:29 left to defeat Northern Iowa and win the Missouri Valley Conference’s bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Northern Iowa jumped to a 14-2 lead and was up 27-15 at the half. A quick 8-2 run to start the second half gave the Panthers an 18-point edge with 17:07 to play.
The Braves then went on a 12-0 run, fueled by eight points from Luqman Lundy, to make the score 38-34 with 10:40 to play. After Northern Iowa got the lead back to seven with 6:28 to play, Bradley went on an 8-0 run to take over the game.
Seven free throws by Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye in the final two minutes sealed the win for Bradley.
The teams defeated the top seeds in the tournament Friday in a pair of two-point wins. No. 4 Bradley (20-14) topped No. 1 Loyola-Chicago, last season’s NCAA Tournament darling, and No. 6 Northern Iowa (16-18) beat No. 2 Drake.