Belmont wins 3rd straight A-Sun title with 79-61 win over Jacksonville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—Shane Dansby scored 16 points to help send Belmont to its third straight NCAA tournament with a 79-61 victory over Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun championship Saturday night.
Justin Hare and Matthew Dotson added 14 points each for the Bruins, and Alex Renfroe had 10.
Aric Brooke led Jacksonville with 13 points, and Lehmon Colbert and Travis Cohn had 11 each for the Dolphins, who were playing in their first Atlantic Sun title game.
The 3-point shot has long been a staple for the Bruins, who led the league in shooting—and were fourth in the nation—from beyond the arc this season. They were right on par in their biggest game of the year.
Playing just a few miles from campus, the Bruins (25-8) made 13 3-pointers, shooting 44 percent from long range. Their hot starts to each half were too much for Jacksonville, which did little to slow down the Bruins.
Dansby’s 3-pointer with a little more than 16 minutes left capped a 13-4 start to the second half for Belmont. The sparse crowd was filled with mostly Belmont fans, who had Jacksonville (18-13) rattled before the game took shape.
Keaton Belcher’s 3-pointer with 9:07 left in the first half put the Bruins ahead 27-12, capping an 18-4 run from which the Dolphins couldn’t recover.
Belmont stretched the lead to 45-23 after Renfroe made three consecutive layups with less than a minute left before halftime, part of a stretch where the Bruins outscored Jacksonville 14-4.
In all, it was a miserable day for the Florida school.
Besides a winter storm that dumped heavy snow outside Lipscomb’s Allen Arena, the men’s and women’s basketball teams lost in their respective tournament finals—and blew chances for the school’s first NCAA tournament appearance.
The Jacksonville women lost 75-72 to East Tennessee State earlier in the day.
The Dolphins struggled in their first title game in front of a nationally televised audience, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting just 36 percent from the floor.
It was a different feeling for Belmont.
The third consecutive conference championship for Belmont only adds to what has been a stellar season for the state of Tennessee.
Memphis, Vanderbilt and Tennessee—all ranked in the Top 25—will likely join the Bruins in the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome in their league tournaments. Along with Austin Peay’s 82-62 victory over Tennessee State in the Ohio Valley Conference championship, at least five schools from the Volunteer State are headed to the dance.
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