Senior Todd Withers scored a game-high 20 points and added eight rebounds as the Queens Royals (29-3) rolled past Lees-McRae 90-63 in their NCAA Division II Southeast Regional opener on Saturday.
The Royals, ranked seventh in Division II and the region’s No. 2 seed, take on No. 24 UNC Pembroke (27-5) in Sunday’s regional semifinals game at 5 p.m. The Braves beat Francis Marion 75-72 off a 25-foot jumper at the buzzer earlier Saturday.
Queens gave up the first basket but never trailed again Saturday. Five Royals were in double figures. Ike Agusi and Lewis Diankulu each pumped in 12 points while Jalin Alexander and Shaun Willett added 10 each. Solomon Smith also added eight rebounds.
Jordan Turner led Lees-McRae (23-9), making its first tournament appearance, with 12 points.
The Royals are making their third straight NCAA tournament appearance and their 11th overall. Lincoln Memorial, the only team that’s beaten Queens this season, is hosting the regional.
N.C. Central 71, Hampton 63: Pablo Rivas had 22 points and North Carolina Central scored 11 in a row to break a 58-all tie and beat Hampton in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament championship in Norfolk, Va.
Jordan Perkins added 13 points and nine assists and John Guerra scored 12 for the Eagles (19-15), who earned the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years.
Malique Trent-Street scored 15 points to lead the Pirates (19-15), who also were seeking their third MEAC title in five years. Akim Mitchell and Greg Heckstall each added 11 points.
A 3-pointer by Kalin Fisher pulled Hampton even at 58-all with 4:24 to play, but the Pirates didn't score again until Trent-Street's layup with 18 seconds to go.
The Eagles have made winning a habit in recent years, and did so this year with two freshmen — Reggie Gardner Jr. (11.0 ppg) and Jordan Perkins (8.3 ppg, 5.4 apg) — figuring prominently in the backcourt. They combined with veterans Raasean Davis, Rivas and Guerra to make NCCU a dangerous team to take lightly in the postseason.
The Pirates were sloppy with the ball in the closing minutes, ruining their chances at a victory in front of a partisan and pro-Hampton crowd. The Pirates also got little help from their bench, which was outscored 28-9 by the NCCU reserves.
N.C. Central will head to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years.
The Pirates' loss leaves them hoping for an opportunity to continue playing in the NIT or a lesser tournament.