Bryant on Tuesday night secured his first trip to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, but the NEC Championship game against Wagner was marred by a fight between fans in the stands late in the second half.
Peter KissThe nation’s top scorer scored 34 points to lead the Bulldogs past the Seahawks 70-43 in Smithfield, Rhode Island. It’s Bryant’s first NEC title, who became post-season eligible in 2012-13 after moving to DI.
The match was delayed for 30 minutes with 4:37 remaining in the second half after a brawl broke out between fans behind Wagner’s bench. A small section of seats mostly occupied by Wagner fans sat next to Bryant’s student section and the controversial atmosphere led to a brawl.
Local police and police were seen in court as tensions subsided. Officials went to the replay screens several times to see if any players from the schools had entered the stands. None of the players or coaches made it to the stands, despite Wagner’s goalkeeper Will Martinez He tried that and was kicked out of the game. Many other players had to be restrained.
Subsequently, Bryant’s athletic director Bill Smith addressed the crowd on the public address system, telling the attendees that they could not storm the field—the Bulldog was ahead at the time—until Wagner’s players and staff left the floor after his game.
“I haven’t seen any of it — how any of this thing started,” Smith said then, according to the Providence Journal. “All I knew was that we needed to finish the match in a first-class way. Bring the two teams back to the field, they shook hands at the end and we finished the match.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think there was anything else we could have done to prevent what happened. It was just a great night and we’ll move on.”
Bryant coach Jared Grasso added, “I don’t know how it started, why it started, what happened. Thank God our guys weren’t part of it.”
Bryant (22-9) has set a Division I program record for wins this season. Kiss made 13 of 23 from the field and 4 of 5 from a 3-point range and finished with six rebounds, three assists, and five steals. The senior player has scored at least 25 points in 13 of his last 17 games and has scored at least 30 points 10 times this season.
Raewon seed Rogers led Wagner (21-6) with 13 points from 6 of 8. The rest of the Seahawks fired 22% (11 of 50) from the field.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
“Extreme gamer. Total twitter buff. Analyst. Zombie trailblazer. Thinker. Coffee expert. Creator. Student.”