ODU beats Western Kentucky for Conference USA title, punches ticket to NCAA Tournament

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FRISCO, Texas (WAVY/AP) — Old Dominion University Men’s Basketball is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. 

The Monarchs defeated Western Kentucky 62-56 Saturday night for their first Conference USA Tournament title. 

Xavier Green and Ahmad Caver of the Monarchs wore winners’ basketball nets as necklaces Saturday night.

Green scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to lead Old Dominion to the victory over Western Kentucky.

Top-seeded Old Dominion (26-8), the eighth-stingiest scoring defense in the latest NCAA statistics (61.2 points per game), won three tournament games by a total of nine points to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011.

“(The NCAA berth) hasn’t hit me yet,” Green said. “I think it’s going to hit me later, like when I’m in the shower by myself or when I talk to my mom.”

Senior Caver scored 10 points and had nine assists.

The Monarchs’ biggest lead Saturday was seven points.

“Our guys didn’t blink,” ODU coach Jeff Jones said. “We showed that we were a team that could consistently win close games.”

Western Kentucky (20-14) was the second seed.

With ODU trailing 37-34, Green made a traditional three-point play to tie the game and added two 3-pointers for the lead.

WKU came back to tie it at 47 before C-USA Player of the Year B.J. Stith scored to break the tie. Green added another 3-pointer for a 54-48 lead and the Hilltoppers didn’t move within four points after that.

Stith scored 13 points. Charles Bassey led WKU with 12 points, Josh Anderson scored 11 and Jared Savage had 10.

ODU won 25 games last season but didn’t go to a postseason tournament.

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