DANVILLE, Ky. - For the first time since 1997, the Sewanee men's basketball wins its first conference championship with a 62-59 victory over the Regular Season Champions Centre College Sunday inside Alumni Gymnasium at the 2019 Southern Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament Final. Winning their first-ever SAA Title, the Tigers will be going dancing into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP
Final Score: Sewanee (22-6) 62, Centre (23-5) 59
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HOW IT HAPPENED
-The Colonels sprinted to an 8-0 lead early in the contest, but the Tigers got back in the groove as they tied the contest at 14 with 7:32 left in the opening half.
-After evening the score, the Tigers went on a 16-8 run the rest of the half to take a six-point lead into the locker room.
-The Tigers pushed the lead back to 10 points, 41-31 with 16 minutes left in the contest, but the Colonels responded to reclaim the lead, 46-44 with 10 minutes remaining thanks to a 15-3 run.
-Centre was able to get the lead back to seven points with 2:30 to go, but the Tigers made four straight 3-pointers to win the game.
-Luke Smith drained the first two to cut the deficit to a three-point affair with 90 seconds remaining. After a turnover by Centre, Hunter Buescher drained a trey to even the score at 59 with 1:08 left.
-After Centre's last chance to break the tie came for naught, Sewanee's Michael Barry found Smith's pass and from the right corner, drained the game winner with 2.2 seconds to go.
HEADING BACK TO THE BIG DANCE!
-Sewanee wins its sixth conference championship (1966-73-75-76-97-2019), and it is the first tournament championship in the SAA.
-With the victory, the Tigers receive the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, and this will be the fifth appearance for The University of the South in program history (1975-76-97-98-2019).
Sewanee: Luke Smith (MVP)
Sewanee: Cam Caldwell
Centre: Jacob Bates
Centre: Tucker Sine
Berry: Elijah Hirsch
Oglethorpe: Will Perry
Hendrix: Seth Stanley
Millsaps: Justin Van Pelt
Birmingham-Southern: Zachary Allison
Rhodes: Daniel Darst
SEWANEE KEY STATISTICS
-After coming off a 40-point performance in the semifinals, Luke Smith went 8-of-14 from the field, 6-of-7 from downtown, to finish with 23 points in 39 minutes. He also added five dimes and two steals.
-On the weekend, he scored an even 90 points in three games on 28-of-42 shooting from the field (66.7 percent). From beyond the arc, the sophomore went 18-of-24 (75 percent) from downtown.
-Hunter Buescher also dropped 13 points.
-For the tournament, the Tigers were taking and connecting from long range. Sewanee finished the day 13-of-24 from downtown, and the team shot 38-of-72 (52.7 percent) on the weekend. The Tigers have shot 50 percent or better from long distance in their last four games.
CENTRE KEY STATISTICS
-Jacob Bates scored 22 points and added seven rebounds and four steals for the Colonels.
-Tucker Sine and Perry Ayers added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Tigers will be known of their opponent and where they will play on Monday at 12:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. CT with the NCAA selection show on NCAA.Com.
The First Round of the NCAA Tournament will take place on Friday, March 1.