Troy State coach Don Maestri showed his players a video collection of former NBA greats to motivate them the night before the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament final.
George Mikan. Bill Russell. Julius Erving. All champions. Now, the Trojans are, too.
Troy State, in the conference final for the second time in three seasons, beat Central Florida 80-69 Saturday to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
"Any level, any year, winning championships feels the same," Maestri said. "It's the ultimate feeling in team sports. There's no real difference."
Tournament MVP Ben Fletcher scored 19 of his season-high 29 in the first half for Troy State (26-5), the No. 3 seed. Ed Dotson had 19 points for the fifth-seeded Knights (21-11).
The Trojans joined Division I in 1993 and the Atlantic Sun is their third conference _ they played one season in the East Coast and three in the Mid-Continent.
HORIZON: Joel Cornette scored 19 as top-seeded Butler (25-4) defeated Detroit 58-55 in a semifinal at Milwaukee. The league MVP, Willie Green, led fifth-seeded Detroit (18-12) with 21 points.
NORTHEAST: Rashaun Banjo scored 20 to lead Quinnipiac (17-11) 75-57 over St. Francis (Pa.) in a quarterfinal at New York. The fourth-seeded Bobcats face top-seeded Wagner (19-10), an 86-66 winner over Long Island, in today's semi. In the other quarterfinal, Iman Mattox scored 17 to lead seventh-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson 63-51 over second-seeded Monmouth (15-3).
PATRIOT LEAGUE: Kevin Bettencourt scored 13 of his 16 in the second half to lead Bucknell 52-47 win over Lehigh in a quarterfinal in Upper Marlboro, Md. The Bison (14-14) face top-seeded Holy Cross (24-4), which beat Army 58-40, today. In the other quarterfinal, Steven Miles had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead second-seeded American 72-57 over Navy. American (15-13) faces sixth-seeded Lafayette, a 89-76 winner over Colgate.