Denver turns back Florida International 71-64

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP)—Brian Stafford and Justin Coughlin scored 17 points apiece Saturday to lead Denver over Florida International 71-64 in an opening-round game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Nate Rohnert and Chase Hallam added 14 points each for the sixth-seeded Pioneers (18-12), who advance to face No. 3 Middle Tennessee on Sunday. Rohnert also had nine rebounds for Denver.

Phil Gary had 23 points for Florida International (7-25), which lost its ninth straight game. Marlon Bright added 16 points and nine rebounds, and Stephon Weaver had 12 points.

Denver’s 18 wins are the second-most in its Division I history and the most by the Pioneers since going 20-11 in 2004-05.

Both teams spent a lot of time at the free-throw line Saturday. Denver was 27 for 35 at the line, while Florida International was 21 for 26.

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