UNC Asheville Wins 2016 Big South Men's Basketball Championship - Mar 7, 2016
Dwayne Sutton (6'5''-G) scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half to rally No. 4 seed UNC Asheville from a 9-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 2 seed Winthrop, 77-68 and win the 2016 Big South Men's Basketball Championship Sunday, March 6 at Gore Arena on the campus of Campbell University. The Bulldogs won their first Big South Championship since 2012 and fifth overall and receives the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Sutton tallied 25 points and 18 rebounds to earn Tournament MVP honors. Sam Hughes (6'4''-F) added 15 points - all in the second half, while Kevin Vannatta (6'2''-G) had 12 and Dylan Smith (6'5''-G) tallied 11. Jimmy Gavin (6'3''-G) led Winthrop with 31 points while Joshua Davenport (6'5''-F-94) added 15. Xavier Cooks (6'8''-G/F-95) had 12 rebounds and nine points before fouling out. In the third Championship meeting between the two teams and 11th overall in the tournament, the teams combined for nine ties and five lead changes. Gavin scored five of Winthrop's first seven points as the teams traded baskets and were tied at 7-7 at the first media timeout. Asheville went ahead 14-9, but a three from Gavin and dribble-drive from Cooks tied it at 14-14 with 11:33 left in the first half. The game was tied for the fifth time with 7:58 left in the first half as neither team allowed a run at that point. Asheville's largest lead during the span was five points, while Winthrop's largest advantage was just two. Cooks gave Winthrop a two-point lead at 20-18 with a layup, and then the Eagles moved ahead by 5 with 4:22 remaining. Keon Johnson (5'7''-PG-95)'s three-pointer stretched the Eagle lead to 8, with another Gavin three to push the lead to 11. A dunk by Davenport capped Winthrop's biggest first half lead before the Bulldogs cut to the margin to nine at intermission. The first half featured six ties and four lead changes. Winthrop went on a 13-4 run to close out the half after a 20-20 tie. Gavin had 11 at the break while Davenport had 10. Asheville was led by Sutton's seven points. Asheville opened the second half on a 6-2 run to get back within 5 in addition to holding the Eagles to just 2-of-10 from the field in the opening five minutes. Sutton eventually tied it at 39-39 on free throws, only to see Davenport get inside for a lay-in at 13:57 for a traditional three-point play. The teams traded baskets and leads three times during a five-minute span, until Smith drained a deep three and Vannatta put in a lay-up to give the Bulldogs a 3-point lead at 49-46 to force a Winthrop timeout with 11:05 remaining. The Bulldogs kept Winthrop at length and maintained a two-point lead at the 7:53 mark as Sutton and Smith rallied the squad and took advantage of bonus fouls after the 10-minute mark. Vannatta's tip-in gave Asheville its largest lead at six (62-56) with 6:38 left and the Bulldogs built their lead and eventual winning margin from there. Joining Sutton on the All-Tournament Team were teammate Ahmad Thomas (6'3''-G), Gavin, Presbyterian's Desean Murray (6'5''-F-96), Gardner-Webb's Tyrell Nelson (6'7''-C) and High Point's Miles Bowman (6'6''-F-93), Jr. Asheville becomes the first No. 4 seed to win the Big South title since 1997 and fifth overall. It is also the Bulldogs' third Big South crown and NCAA Tournament berth since 2011.
Courtesy of BigSouthSports
Big South Conf. Tournament Final: UNC Asheville - Winthrop 77-68 Big South Conf. Tournament Semifinals: Winthrop - Gardner-Webb 82-69 UNC Asheville - High Point 80-69
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