Elite is so sweet: Buffs defeat UT Permian Basin to advance to next round of NCAA tournament

The wait is over.


West Texas A&M will make its first appearance in the Division II men’s Elite Eight Tournament in 20 years thanks to an unforgettable night of basketball in the First United Bank Center on Tuesday before the loudest and largest crowd the place has seen in years for a Buffs game at 1,768.

Propelled by a dazzling first half of shooting, WT beat Lone Star Conference rival University of Texas Permian-Basin, 95-87, claiming the South Central Region title and moving from Tuesday’s Round of 16 to the Elite Eight next week in Sioux Falls, S.D.

West Texas (31-3) built an 18-point halftime lead and then had to fight off foul trouble and an inspired UTPB comeback in this game, which was chippy, with UTPB’s Zeldric King getting tossed from the game for hitting WT’s Jordan Collins in the groin in the first half.

The Buffs were up to the task in their fourth meeting of the year against UTPB, time and again making key plays in the second half.

Region most valuable player David Chavlovich led WT with 28 points, followed by Jordan Evans’ 26, Gash Gach with 16 and Ryan Quaid at 12.

UTPB senior Daeshon Francis, who scored 43 in the semifinals in a four-OT win over Regis, led UTPB (26-7) with 31 points.

The Buffs played a brilliant first half building a 50-32 lead on the strength of their shooting, especially from beyond the 3-point arc.

West Texas shot 60 percent from the floor (15-of-25) and dialed up a 10-of-14 effort from 3-point land with four players combining to do the damage in Chavlovich (4-of-6), Evans (3-of-3), Gach (2-2) and Collins (2-of-2).