Darian Anderson scored 28 points and Earl Potts Jr. (Archbishop Spalding) had 27 to lead Fairleigh Dickinson to an 87-79 victory over Wagner on Tuesday night in the championship game of the Northeast Conference tournament and the Knights' fifth NCAA tournament bid.
Anderson had 18 points in the second half and Potts, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, had 16 when the Knights took control on the way to their first NCAA bid since 2005, and the first under third-year coach Greg Herenda.
Potts scored FDU's first nine points of the second half as it took the lead for good on his 3-pointer that gave the second-seeded Knights (18-14) the lead at 51-47.
They were ahead by as many as 10 points, the first time on a 3 by Marques Townes with 4:15 to play.
Anderson was 8-for-16 from the field, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range, while Potts was 11-for-19, including 4-for-8 from long range. The Knights were 9-for-19 from 3-point range.
Corey Henson led the top-seeded Seahawks (23-9) with 24 points, while Michael Carey had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Wagner finished 4-for-24 from 3-point range and 21-for-33 from the free-throw line.
The win was the fifth straight for the Knights and it ended Wagner's seven-game winning streak. The teams split the season series with Potts hitting a 3 at the buzzer to give the Knights an overtime win at Wagner.
The game was played before a packed, sellout crowd of about 2,100 at Wagner's Spiro Sports Center, and the FDU fans in attendance rushed the court at the final buzzer.
The first half started and ended about as different as possible.
The Seahawks opened the game on a 13-2 run, getting the ball inside the Knights' 2-3 zone for shots down low. FDU got as close as four points before the Seahawks again scored inside often to take a 31-20 lead with 3:35 left in the half.
The Knights, taking advantage of Wagner turnovers, closed the half on a 13-4 run to cut Wagner's lead to 35-33. Potts closed it with a 3-pointer with two seconds left.
Both teams struggled from 3-point range in the first half, Wagner making three of 11 and the Knights just slightly better at 3-for-1010.
FDU notes: The Knights are the third-youngest roster in Division I with two redshirt juniors and all sophomores and freshmen. … FDU last played in the NEC title game in 2006. … FDU's NCAA appearances were 1985, 1988, 1998 and 2005. … The Knights reached the title game with wins over St. Francis, Pa., and Mount St. Mary's. … FDU's director of basketball operations is Pete Lappas, the son of former Villanova and Massachusetts coach Steve Lappas.
Wagner notes: This was the first time Wagner hosted the championship game since 2003. … The Seahawks reached the title game with wins over Robert Morris and LIU Brooklyn.