Gardner-Webb earns NCAA bid, four state teams selected to D2 tourney

Queens University is the top seed in the Division II Southeast Region and will host first round games on Saturday

Members of the Gardner Webb basketball team celebrate winning the championship of the Big South conference NCAA basketball on Sunday (AP Photo/Lee Luther Jr.)

  Gardner-Webb became the first team from North Carolina to earn a spot in the Division I NCAA basketball tournament by beating Radford 76-65 in the Big South Conference championship game behind 32 points from senior forward D.J. Laster.

  But the Bulldogs weren’t the only ones from the Old North State to have their NCAA ticket scanned Sunday.

  Four local schools were also selected to play in the Division II national championship tournament.

  Queens, Catawba, UNC Pembroke and Lenoir-Rhyne all earned bids into the 64-team field and will play in the Southeast Region. First round games will be played on Saturday at Levine Arena on Queens’ Charlotte campus.

  The 28-4 Royals, who advanced to the national semifinals last year, earned the right to host the event by being the region’s top seed. They will take on eighth-seeded Emmanuel College of Georgia (25-9).

  Also on the top half of the bracket, fourth seeded Catawba (23-7) will play No. 5 UNCP (21-9).

  Lenoir-Rhyne, which upset Queens in the South Atlantic Conference semifinals before losing in the title game to Catawba, is the region’s sixth seed. The Bears (21-10) will meet third seeded USC Aiken (26-5) on Saturday, with the winner playing either No. 2 Augusta (26-5) or No. 7 Francis Marion (21-8).

  Second round games will also be played at Queens on Sunday with the region title game scheduled for Tuesday, March 19. Game times have yet to be announced.

  Unlike the Division I tournament, the Division II bracket is broken into eight regions, with the winners of each gathering in a central location for the Elite Eight. This year’s national quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be held in Evansville, Ind.

  Another North Carolina team, UNCG, can join Gardner-Webb in the Division I tournament field tonight in the Southern Conference championship game against Wofford in Asheville.