The Vermont Catamounts waited more than a year for another chance to reach the NCAA tournament, and they didn't let this one slip away.

David Hehn hit a 10-foot jumper with 5.6 seconds left to give Vermont a 56-55 win over host Boston University in the America East tournament final yesterday and its first trip to the NCAAs.

Tournament most valuable player Matt Sheftic scored 23 points to lead the Catamounts (21-11), who became the league's first No. 2 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the tournament title game.

Last year the Catamounts were the top seed, but they lost to Maine in overtime in the semifinals.

"I always believed this day would come, and then last year I thought it was going to happen and it didn't," said Vermont Coach Tom Brennan, in his 17th season.

Chaz Carr came up short on a three-pointer as time expired, and about 700 Vermont fans who made the trip to Boston rushed the court to celebrate.

* ATLANTIC 10: One of the country's best home teams can start packing for the ultimate road show.

Sean Finn scored a career-high 20 points as No. 22 Dayton put the finishing touch on its best home season, beating Temple, 79-72, for its first conference tournament title.

It was Dayton's first tournament championship of any sort since 1990, giving the Flyers (24-5) their first NCAA berth since 2000. It came in the most appropriate setting.

The Flyers went 17-1 at home, their highest victory total in any of UD Arena's 33 seasons.

* CONFERENCE USA: Louisville forward Luke Whitehead set a conference tournament record with 37 rebounds, but none was as important as the last one.

The 6-foot-7 junior grabbed the ball after Eric Bush missed a layup, then hit two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to clinch the Cardinals' 83-78 win over Alabama-Birmingham in the tournament championship game in Louisville.

Whitehead finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, his third double-double in the Cardinals' three tournament games. Whitehead was named the tournament's most valuable player.

Taquan Dean added 15 points, and Francisco Garcia had 14 for No. 20 Louisville (24-6), which won its first Conference USA tournament title.

* MEAC: In Richmond, Thurman Zimmerman scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, helping South Carolina State to a 72-67 victory over Hampton and ending the Pirates' two-year reign as conference champion.

South Carolina State will make its fifth NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2000.

The top-seeded Bulldogs (20-10) trailed 26-6 just 7 minutes 26 seconds into the game and had nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes, then started taking better care of the basketball.

* MID-AMERICAN: In Cleveland, Chris Kaman scored 25 points, and T.J. Meerman added 16 as Central Michigan defeated Kent State, 77-67, to win the conference tournament and earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1987.

Kaman, the MAC player of the year, added 13 rebounds for Central Michigan (24-6), which blew the game open with a 16-2 run to open the second half.

* SWAC: Allan Lovett scored 23 points, and Ra'Kim Hollis had 18 points and nine assists as Texas Southern beat Alcorn State, 77-68, to win the conference tournament in Birmingham.

The Tigers (18-12), who went to the NCAA tournament in 1990, '94 and '95, also got 12 points from Lionel Willis.

Texas Southern used a nine-point run in the first half to take control and led 40-30 at the break.

* WAC: Dante Swanson scored 23 points, and Kevin Johnson added 18 as host Tulsa beat Nevada, 75-64, to win its conference tournament.

The Golden Hurricane (22-9) advanced to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four seasons.

* MOUNTAIN WEST: In Las Vegas, Brian Greene scored 22 points and hit a jumper with 5.7 seconds left as Colorado State made a stunning rally to win its conference tournament, 62-61 over UNLV.

To the surprise of nearly everyone at Thomas & Mack Center, the sixth-seeded Rams (19-13), who had a seven-game losing streak during conference play, are headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.

* JUNIOR COLLEGES: Johan Matos made all five of his three-point attempts, scored 25 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to lead Montgomery-Rockville to a 108-103 overtime win in the consolation game of the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament.

Boston University's Billy Collins sits in dismay as Vermont fans celebrate the Catamounts' first America East tournament title.