Former Westminster Warriors guard Teddy Okereafor became the first British player to book a ticket to the 2012 NCAA Tournament after Virginia Commonwealth University Rams were crowned Colonial Athletic Association champions last night.

Okereafor played only three minutes total in VCU’s CAA tournament final and semi-final wins, but in the quarter-final victory over Northeastern he had probably his best game of the season, scoring eight points in 14 minutes. The London native, who is averaging less than six minutes per game, shot 3-4 from the field and also added two assists.

Shane Walker followed Okereafor into the Big Dance shortly afterwards as Loyola Maryland defeated Fairfield in a low-scoring MAAC championship game. Walker’s five rebounds included a couple of crucial defensive boards late in the game, and with the Greyhounds up by three points with seconds remaining, the 6-10 forward hit the free throw that iced the game.

That game wasn’t nearly as tense as the Southern Conference championship, where Davidson blew a ten-point lead in the final two minutes but prevailed in double overtime. The Wildcats’ Scottish forward Ali Mackay did not get off the bench in the game.

Other British players saw their NCAA Tournament hopes evaporate over the weekend with losses in conference tournaments. Will Neighbour had a game he’ll want to forget as he went 1-7 from the field for four points and UALR were upset by Western Kentucky. The Trojans blew an eleven-point lead late as they went scoreless for five minutes from the 5:56 mark. Neighbour did have five rebounds and three steals, but he struggled against the Hilltoppers’ physical frontcourt. Neighbour was recently named Second Team All-Sun Belt in his first season in the conference.

Ben Mockford’s St Francis were also upset by a lower-seeded team, as they lost to Quinnipiac despite Mockford’s 17 points.

Hamilton: Out

Andrew Lawrence, Mockford’s former backcourt partner with the GB under-20s, scored 14 points and dished out four assists, but Charleston lost in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament, capping a disappointing second half of the year for the Cougars.

Ashley Hamilton had a good game for Loyola Marymount on Thursday, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight boards, but LMU were knocked out of the WCC tournament by San Francisco.

There are still plenty of British players with all to play for this week. Danny Carter’s Stony Brook won a nail-biting America East semi-final and will face Vermont, conquerors of Alasdair Fraser’s Maine, in the final on Saturday.

Patrick Nyeko’s Nevada claimed the WAC regular season title over the weekend and will start the conference tournament on Thursday as hot favourites.

Alex Marcotullio at Northwestern and Aaron Geramipoor of Seton Hall are both looking for a couple of wins in their conference tournaments to boost their chances of an at-large bid to the Big Dance. Northwestern helped their cause by winning at Iowa on Saturday, with Marcotullio scoring five points, while the Hall’s late-season struggles continued as they were blown out by an unfancied DePaul team.

You can watch Marcotullio, Geramipoor, Carter and others on ESPN America, which is showing several conference tournaments this week in the lead-up to Selection Sunday. 

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