Around the same time the field for the NCAA’s Division I men’s tournament was being announced on Sunday, with a record six teams from North Carolina making the field, another state college basketball team was already advancing to the Sweet 16 of its tournament.
Seventh-ranked Queens advanced to the round of 16 in the Division II NCAA tourney for the second straight year and fourth time in school history by beating in-state rival UNC Pembroke 75-63 in Harrogate, Tenn.
The win was Queens’ 30th of the season, tying a school record. It also advances the Charlotte-based Royals into Tuesday’s Southeast Region final against host Lincoln Memorial, the team that handed them their only three losses.
Senior guard Mike Davis came just one rebound short of a triple-double in leading Queens past the Braves, totaling 18 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Teammate Jalin Alexander recorded 18 points and eight boards while Todd Withers recorded his eighth double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Royals took control of the game with an early 10-0 run and never looked back while holding UNCP to 33 percent shooting. The Braves (27-6) got as close as one early in the second half, but Queens answered with 12-3 run to rebuild a double-digit cushion.
Brandon Watts led UNCP, which also set a school record for wins in a season, with 22 points while David Strother and Nigel Grant scored 10 points each. The Braves won their first round game against Francis Marion while the Royals advanced with a win against Lees-McRae.
Queens now faces a Sweet 16 matchup with top-seeded Lincoln Memorial, a South Atlantic Conference rival it has yet to solve this season. Two of its three losses to the Railsplitters have come by two points or less. The winner of this meeting will advance to the Division II Elite eight in Sioux Falls, S.D., next weekend.