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Fairleigh Dickinson Gets a Bid

Associated Press
Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page D09

A late three-pointer by Mensah Peterson and 29 points from two players who were scoreless in the previous game has Fairleigh Dickinson in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998.

"I think the whole team played well," Peterson said after the second-seeded Knights defeated Wagner 58-52 to win the Northeast Conference tournament last night in Hackensack, N.J.


Fairleigh Dickinson's Tamien Trent shoots over Wagner's Matt Vitale in the NEC title game. The Knights will appear in their first NCAA tournament since 1998. (Tim Larsen -- AP)

_____Who's In_____
These teams have earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament:

Bucknell (Patriot League)
Central Florida (Atlantic Sun)
Creighton (Missouri Valley)
Chattanooga (Southern)
Delaware State (MEAC)
Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley)
Fairleigh Dickinson (Northeast)
George Washington (Atlantic 10)
Gonzaga (West Coast)
Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt)
Louisville (Conference USA)
Montana (Big Sky)
New Mexico (MWC)
Niagara (Metro Atlantic)
Oakland (Mich.) (Mid-Continent)
Ohio (MAC)
Old Dominion (Colonial)
Pennsylvania (Ivy)
Syracuse (Big East)
Texas-El Paso (Western Athletic)
Vermont (America East)
Washington (Pacific 10)
Winthrop (Big South)
Wis.-Milwaukee (Horizon)


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"We all had to step up," Peterson added. "It's all about wanting to win. It's a great feeling that we won. I still can't believe it's happening. I don't care who we play. It doesn't matter at this point. We're in. That's all that matters."

Fairleigh Dickinson (20-12) had a lot of contributors in preventing Wagner (13-17) from becoming only the second sixth seed to win the conference tournament.

Italian center Andrea Crosariol, who had only two points in the first two games of the tournament, scored 18 points, two shy of his career best.

Chad Timberlake, who also was blanked in the semifinal win over Long Island University, had 11 points.

Peterson scored seven of his 13 points in the final 3 minutes 28 seconds, including a three-pointer with 23.8 seconds to play that gave Fairleigh Dickinson a 56-50 lead.

The Seahawks nearly staged a final comeback after falling behind, 47-36, on a three-pointer by Gordon Klaiber with 10:31 to play.

The Knights did not score another field goal until Peterson hit his big three-pointer in the final minute.

Mark Porter, who led Wagner to its upset of top-seeded Monmouth on Sunday, keyed the 13-4 spurt with eight points. His two free throws cut the lead to 51-49 with 1:23 remaining.

Peterson was fouled 12 seconds later and hit both ends of a one-and-one opportunity to push the lead to 53-49. Porter hit one free throw with 56 seconds to go to cut the lead to three.

Wagner elected to defend on the Knights' next possession and Peterson made them pay with a 20-footer with two seconds left on the shot clock.

"Chad drove the middle of the lane and kicked it back to me," Peterson said. "It was a good pass and I just shot the ball. I was surprised how much they left me open. It felt real good leaving my hands."

Big Sky

In Portland, Ore., Kamarr Davis scored 19 points and Montana held off Weber State's late rally for a 63-61 victory in the tournament title game, earning the Grizzlies an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Virgil Matthews' dunk with 4:17 left capped an 11-0 run and made it 54-44 for the Grizzlies (18-12), who have won six straight.

The Wildcats (14-16) chipped away at the lead, narrowing it to 60-58 on Terrell Stovall's three-pointer with 1:03 left. Montana's Kevin Criswell missed a layup before Stovall was called for an offensive foul on the other end and the Grizzlies got the ball.

Matt Martin made both his free throws after getting fouled with 14.4 seconds left to make it 62-58, but Weber State's Coric Riggs hit a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds left to make it 62-61. Davis was fouled with 2.8 seconds and added drama by missing his first free throw before hitting his second for the final margin.


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