CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The seedings and pairings in next week’s Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Championship have been determined following the conclusion of the Conference’s regular-season schedule this evening. Liberty and UNC Asheville each won important road games to move up in the standings, while Winthrop became the first team in Big South history to go undefeated in Conference play, finishing the year at 14-0 after its 83-69 win at Coastal Carolina Saturday.
The Eagles (25-4, 14-0 Big South) already locked up the regular-season title and No. 1 seed earlier this week, and will host No. 8 Charleston Southern (8-21, 2-12) Tuesday, Feb. 27 at Winthrop Coliseum. High Point (21-9, 11-3) is the No. 2 seed and will host No. 7 Radford (8-21, 3-11) Tuesday night at Millis Center in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal meeting, which the Panthers won in Radford.
Liberty’s 64-48 win at Radford this afternoon, coupled with Coastal’s home loss to Winthrop, vaulted the Flames (14-16, 8-6) past the Chanticleers (15-14, 7-7) for the No. 3 seed. Liberty will host No. 6 seed VMI (12-18, 5-9), which is making its first Big South Tournament appearance since 2004, Tuesday evening at Vines Center.
UNC Asheville (11-18, 6-8) won at Charleston Southern Saturday, 73-56, to close the regular-season with a three-game win streak and the No. 5 seed in the tournament. The Bulldogs, who knocked off Coastal Carolina, 82-77 just two nights ago, will play at the No. 4 seed Chanticleers Tuesday in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal match-up in Conway.
Following the four quarterfinal games on Tuesday, the 2007 Advance Auto Parts Men’s Basketball Championship will continue with the Semifinals on Thursday, March 1 in Rock Hill, S.C. -- both games will air live on ESPNU -- and concludes with the Championship game on Saturday, March 3 live on ESPN and Sirius Satellite Radio. The Big South’s Tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The Conference Championship schedule is as follows:
Quarterfinals - Tuesday, Feb. 27 (at top four seeds)
Game 1: No. 2 High Point hosts No. 7 Radford, 7:00pm ET (at High Point, N.C.)
Game 2: No. 3 Liberty hosts No. 6 VMI, 7:00pm ET (at Lynchburg, Va.)
Game 3: No. 1 Winthrop hosts No. 8 Charleston Southern, 7:00pm ET (at Rock Hill, S.C.)
Game 4: No. 4 Coastal Carolina hosts No. 5 UNC Asheville, 7:00pm ET (at Conway, S.C.)
Semifinals - Thursday, March 1 (at Winthrop Coliseum, Rock Hill, S.C.)
Game 5: Semifinals – No. 2/No. 7 winner vs. No. 3/No. 6 winner, 6:00pm ET; TV: ESPNU
Game 6: Semifinals – No. 1/No. 8 winner vs. No. 4/No. 5 winner, 8:00pm ET; TV: ESPNU
Championship - Saturday, March 3 (at highest remaining seed)
Game 7: Championship - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 2:00pm ET; TV: ESPN
Recaps from today's action appear below.
Winthrop 83, Coastal Carolina 69
Coastal Carolina's men's basketball squad got to within five in the second half but could get no closer, eventually losing its regular-season finale to visiting Winthrop, 83-69, Feb. 24. With the loss, the Chanticleers fall to 15-14 and finish 7-7 in the Big South, while the two-time defending champion Eagles wrap up a perfect Big South slate at 14-0 and are 25-4 overall. Coastal held three leads in the first half early on, including a 15-14 advantage with 12:20 remaining in the first period. Winthrop went on a 9-1 surge over the next four minutes to take a lead it would never relinquish, going up 24-16 with 7:13 remaining. The Eagles pushed the advantage to 16 at 42-26 late in the first half and eventually entered the lockerroom with a 42-28 halftime lead. Winthrow continued to lead by double digits early in the second half and was up 51-39 with 14:28 remaining in the game. Coastal went on an 8-1 run to cut the margin to just five at 52-47 and was down 57-52 with just under 10 minutes to play. However, the Eagles continued to connect and pushed the lead back out to 14 at 70-56 with 5:13 to go and CCU could get no closer than eight in the remaining minutes. The Chants hit on 46.4 percent (26-of-56) of their shots from the floor, but the Eagles were up to the task, knocking down 50.8 percent (30-of-59) of their attempts, including 12-of-24 from the three-point arc. The teams tied the board battle, but Winthrop cashed in 15 Coastal miscues for 23 points. Coastal was paced by Joshua Mack with 17 points, with Moses Sonko and Jack Leasure adding 14 and 10, respectively. Adrian Gross had a solid game with eight points and a game-high 11 boards. Winthrop was led by Torrell Martin, who was impressive throughout with a game-high 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from the three-point arc. Craig Bradshaw added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Phillip Williams and Michael Jenkins each chipped in 11. The No. 4 seed Chanticleers will take on No. 5 UNC Asheville in the first round of the Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship at Kimbel Arena, Tue., Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. The two teams split the season series, with each team winning on the road.
Liberty 64, Radford 48
Radford seniors Reggie McIntyre and Chris Oliver each scored in double digits in their final regular season home game, but Liberty stole senior day, earning its first victory in the Dedmon Center in 10 years, with a 64-48 regionally televised Big South Conference win Saturday afternoon. Radford falls to 8-21 overall and 3-11 in the Big South and will be the seventh seed in next week Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference championship. The Highlanders play at second-seeded High Point at 7:00 pm on Tuesday. Oliver finished with his 11th double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and 11 rebounds and McIntyre scored 11 points to lead Radford. Liberty senior Larry Blair finished with 17 points while junior Alex McLean had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double. Sophomore Anthony Smith also had 11 points for the Flames. The Liberty win snapped a nine-game losing streak at Radford and was LU coach Randy Dunton’s first victory at Dedmon. LU is 3-17 all-time at the facility. The Flames did most of their damage on 21 second-chance points, outrebounding RU 44-29. The teams played even for most of the first half, with neither team getting more than a three-point lead until late in the half. A lay-up by junior Rell Porter and a dunk by McLean gave LU a five-point lead with just under a minute to play. McIntyre responded with a short jumper, but freshman Tyler Baker sunk a three-pointer with under 10 seconds left to push the LU halftime lead to 31-25. The Flames opened the second half by extending their lead as high as 10 on a pair of free throws by junior Dwight Brewington, but nine straight points, capped by a three-pointer from sophomore Martell McDuffy, rallied RU to within one with 12:40 to play. That was as close as RU would get, as Liberty immediately went on a 10-2 run to extend its led back to nine and finished the game up 16. The game also marked the final regular season appearance at home for Samuels, who announced prior to the season his intent to resign.
UNC Asheville 73, Charleston Southern 56
The Bucs got to within one, but never led on “Senior Night” at the CSU Field House, Saturday, as Charleston Southern fell 73-56 to UNC Asheville. Charleston Southern falls to 8-21 on the season, with a 2-12 mark in the Big South Conference, and will be the eighth-seed in the tournament, which starts Tuesday. The Bucs will travel to Winthrop to face the top-seeded Eagles at 7 p.m. Asheville moves to 11-18 overall, with a 6-8 League record, having won their last three regular-season contests. The two Buccaneer seniors, honored before the game, were the leading scorers for CSU with Dwayne Jackson scoring 15 points, while Donnell Covington chipped in 13. The Bulldogs were led by Bryan Smithson, who had a game-high 16 points. Kenny George added 14, while K.J. Garland, who did not score in the first meeting between the two teams, added 13. The Bulldogs held a commanding 44-26 edge on the boards, including 17 offensive rebounds to the Buccaneers’ six. The hot-shooting of Smithson put Asheville out by an 11-0 mark to start the game. The Bucs would trail by as many as 12 on a number of occasions in the first half before cutting the lead to one at 21-20, midway through the first half. UNC Asheville used a 17-6 run to extend the lead back out to 12 at 38-26 just before half. A jumper by Covington cut it back down to 10 points at the break. The second half was more of the same as CSU fell behind by as many as 17 at 55-38, but went on a run to climb back within 11 at 59-48. The Bucs had the ball, looking to cut the lead to single digits late in the game, but one of nine turnovers by the Bucs let UNC Asheville push the lead back out. The Bulldogs would steadily pull away for the remaining six minutes, going up by 21 at 73-52. Jackson would score the final four points of the game, giving the final 73-56 score.
High Point 109, VMI 92
The High Point Panthers held the nation’s top scoring team in check for much of the game as HPU posted a 109-92 victory over the VMI Keydets in their regular season finale on Saturday night at the Millis Center. HPU (21-9, 11-3 Big South) ended the regular season with a 14-1 mark at home and also posted a new program Big South Conference win mark with their 11th victory. VMI, who had been averaging 103.0 points a game this season, dropped to 12-18 overall (5-9 Big South) after being held to their second lowest point total in league play this season. Junior Arizona Reid closed out his bid for Big South Player of the Year honors with a career performance against VMI finishing with a career-high matching 32 points and a personal best 25 rebounds. The 25 boards sets a new Big South Conference single game record, and a HPU program Division I record. He finished the season with a league leading 13 double-doubles. Fellow junior Mike Jefferson scored 20 points, including 13-of-14 from the free throw line, and freshman Eugene Harris also chipped in a career high 20 points for the Panthers. Melvin Crowder added 10 points off the bench and senior Landon Quick tallied 10 points in his final regular season home game. Jefferson also dished out nine of HPU’s 18 assists on the night. VMI’s Reggie Williams, the nation’s leading scorer, led the Keydets with 33 points. Senior Matt Murrer finished with 17 points and nine rebounds while Chavis Holmes added 21 points in the loss. The two squads kept it close over the opening minutes as HPU held a slight one-point lead, 10-9, with 15:56 on the clock. The Panthers used a 17-4 surge midway through the first half to open up some breathing room and grab their largest lead of the frame, 31-15, at the 8:25 mark. The Keydets trimmed their deficit to single digits over the next three minutes before HPU began to slowly pull back in front down the stretch. Following a lay-up by Jefferson with 1:39 left to play in the period, VMI scored seven straight points to end the half trailing by only nine, 51-42, at the break. Reid tallied 19 points and 14 rebounds in 15 minutes of action in the first half while Williams scored 14 points for VMI in the opening stanza. VMI refused to quit in the second half mounting a charge midway through the second half. The Keydets used an 8-2 run capped by a Williams trey with 13:03 left to play to pull to within three points at 62-59. High Point answered with a 12-3 run of their own over the next two minutes to extend their advantage back to double digits. High Point maintained a lead the rest of the game as VMI could only close the gap to five points with five minutes to play. The Panthers used an 8-0 surge late in the game to close things out en route to their record Big South victory.