SMITHFIELD, RI (AP) — Peter Kiss had a season-high 34 points and five steals, and top-seeded Bryant earned a 70-43 victory over Wagner on Tuesday night for the first tournament championship of the Northeast Conference Program History.
But the match was spoiled by a fight in the stands between supporters. With 4:37 to go and the Bulldogs leading 68-32, play stopped for almost 30 minutes. A small section of seats mostly occupied by Wagner fans sat next to Bryant’s student section and the contentious atmosphere led to a fight. None of the players or coaches made it to the stands, although Wagner’s Will Martinez attempted to do so and was ejected from the game and several players had to be held off.
Bryant (22-9) set the Division I program record for wins this season and clinched his first NCAA Tournament berth since the Division II transition began in 2008.
Kiss, the nation’s top scorer with 24.7 points per game, was 13 of 23 from the field and 4 of 5 from 3-point range and finished with six rebounds, three assists and five steals. The senior has scored at least 25 points in 13 of his last 17 games and has scored at least 30 points on 10 occasions this season.
Raekwon Rogers led No. 2 seed Wagner (21-6) with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The rest of the Seahawks shot 22% (11-of-50) from the field. Alex Morales, who is averaging 18.2 points per game and was recently named NEC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, scored three points on 0-of-16 shooting for Wagner.
Charles Pride had 13 points and a career-high tying 17 rebounds for Bryant.
Kiss had a shot knocked down by Morales, then Rogers made a layup to give the Seahawks a 2-0 lead in 38 seconds, but Bryant snatched 36 of the next 40 points. Pride made back-to-back layups to give the Bulldogs the lead for good about 2 minutes later before Kiss took over – muscleing shots into the lane, hitting contested 3s, throwing and catching alley-oops.
Kiss scored 17 points in 11½ minutes to make it 36-6 after flying the other way for a two-handed dunk with 4:44 left in the first half.
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