Melvin Council Jr. scores 21, Wagner begins March Madness with 71-68 win over Howard in First Four

Tue, Mar 19, 2024

Melvin Council Jr. scores 21, Wagner begins March Madness with 71-68 win over Howard in First Four

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Wagner kicked off March Madness with the first NCAA Tournament win in program history, getting 21 points from Melvin Council Jr. and holding off a late rally by Howard to win 71-68 in the First Four on Tuesday night.

The Northeast Conference champion Seahawks (17-15) advanced as the No. 16 seed in the West Region and will play top seed North Carolina on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Howard trailed by 17 points early in the second half but went on a late 14-2 run, closing within 69-68 on Bryce Harris' layup with 18 seconds left. After Julian Brown hit a pair of free throws for Wagner, Howard attempted three 3-pointers in the last 6 seconds but missed them all.

Brown finished with 15 points for the Seahawks, who made their only previous NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003 - one year before their second-year coach, Donald Copeland, made the first of his two appearances in the tourney as a player for Seton Hall.

Harris and Seth Towns scored 16 points apiece for Howard (18-16), the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, which was also seeking its first March Madness win. The Bison made it to the tourney for the second straight season under coach Kenny Blakeney, who won a national title as a player for Duke in 1992.

Tahron Allen's layup with 16:42 left in the first half put Wagner ahead 7-6, and the Seahawks never trailed the rest of the way. They built a 17-point lead in the first half and equaled that advantage early in the second.

Wagner shot 52.7% overall and 47.1% (8 of 17) from 3-point range while holding Howard to 38.6% from the field.

Allen and Keyontae Lewis finished with 10 points apiece as all seven Seahawks who entered the game scored. Wagner had only seven players available for all of conference play because of injuries.


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