UAH takes South Region crown
Chargers surge to biggest lead of game in final three minutes
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- For the first time in school history, Alabama-Huntsville (29-4) is Elite Eight bound after winning the NCAA South Region tournament on Tuesday night behind an 88-81 win against Stillman (23-8) at Spragins Hall.
In front of a school-record 2,563 fans, the Chargers pulled away from a resilient Tiger squad in the final five minutes. The spark was a dunk from senior guard Tyler Hanback, who scored at 5:06 to put the Chargers ahead 73-67. Hanback then layed one off the glass at 3:31 to give the Chargers their largest lead of the night at 77-67.
“I want to congratulate Stillman for a hard fought game," said UAH head coach Lennie Acuff. "They had an awesome run throughout the tournament. We all feel very humble and blessed to get this win tonight.”
UAH managed to hit the free throws needed down the stretch as the Tigers tried to wrestle the lead away. Sophomore guard Xavier Baldwin nailed 6 of 6 in the final three minutes as part of a 15-point night. Baldwin sealed the win with a pair of attempts from the charity stripe with 11 seconds remaining to earn the Chargers' first trip to the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass.
The Chargers placed five players in double figures led by sophomore guard Jaime Smith, who scored 21 on the night on 7 of 12 shooting. Smith was joined in double digits by sophomore forward Zane Campbell with 19 points, junior guard Josh Magette and Baldwin with 15 and Hanback with 11.
Coming into tonight with only four points in the tournament, the senior showed up at the right time to spark the Chargers.
“I've struggled in the last few games," Hanback said. "It was great to get some easy buckets tonight to build confidence back up. I got in the gym and shot a lot this week. My teammates really got my confidence up.”
On the same day he earned NABC All-District honors, Magette's efforts throughout the event earned the veteran NCAA South Region Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Smith and Campbell along with Stillman's LaJay Sears and Kevin Johnson.
Johnson was a force for the Tigers on Tuesday night as the big man posted 21 points on 9 of 10 shooting from the field.
The Chargers take the court in their first Elite Eight contest on Wednesday, March 23rd taking on Minnesota State at 1:30 p.m. in Springfield, Mass.