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UNCP men's, women's basketball teams win Conference Carolinas Tournament championships

Mar. 10—Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Full game stories will also be posted to robesonian.com soon.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Both the men's and women's basketball teams from UNC Pembroke became champions on Sunday, as each won title games in the Conference Carolinas Tournament.

The top-seeded UNCP men's team defeated Emmanuel 82-81 in an overtime thriller. Nygell Verdier hit a go-ahead basket with 14 seconds remaining in the extra session to give the Braves the one-point lead, and UNCP got a defensive stop to seal the victory.

The Braves won their first conference tournament championship since winning consecutive Peach Belt Conference titles in 2017 and 2018. It is the team's first title under coach Drew Richards despite entering the tournament as the top seed in each of the last three seasons.

Elijah Cobb scored 22 points with six rebounds and three assists for UNCP and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Nygell Verdier scored 18 points for the Braves and Bradlee Haskell had 12 points, with both earning All-Tournament honors. Freshman Dallas Gardner also scored 13 points with five rebounds.

The Lady Braves won the Conference Carolinas Tournament for the second consecutive year, winning a title-game rematch over Belmont Abbey 72-51. UNCP became the first back-to-back champions of the tournament since Limestone won three straight from 2014-16.

UNCP hit a program record 14 3-pointers, including four each by Kalaya Hall and Kelci Adams.

Hall scored 25 points with eight rebounds, three assists and three steals and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the second-straight year. Adams had 14 points, all in the second half; Lillian Flantos scored 10 points with four rebounds, Zaria Clark had nine points and Courtney Smith had six points, on the two 3-pointers in the first quarter which sparked the Braves' hot shooting afternoon. Adams and Smith earned All-Tournament selections.

This marks the first time the same school has won both the men's and women's tournaments since Belmont Abbey in 2021, though the Braves are the first to do so in the four tournaments held at Wofford.

The Lady Braves won the title in head coach John Haskins' final season before retirement, keeping his coaching career alive for at least one more game by advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

Both teams earned automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, and learned Sunday night that they will both face Catawba in the first round. The Braves men, a No. 5 seed, will face the No. 4 Indians at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Southeast Regional held at North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia. The Lady Braves, a No. 8 seed, will face tournament host and top-seeded Catawba at 5 p.m. Friday in Salisbury.

This marks the third-straight NCAA bid for the Braves men and the second-straight for the Lady Braves, who had not been to the NCAA Tournament before last season.