Belmont tops FGCU, wins A-Sun
Bruins rally from 13-point deficit to win 14th consecutive game
MACON, Ga. -- Ian Clark scored 16 points and Blake Jenkins had 15 to lead Belmont, which rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit to beat Florida Gulf Coast 83-69 in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship game Saturday night.
Belmont (27-7) advanced to the NCAA tournament with a 14-game winning streak following their fifth conference tournament championship in seven years, including the last two. But the Bruins are leaving the Atlantic Sun for the Ohio Valley Conference on July 1.
Kerron Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Mick Hedgepeth had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins.
Brett Comer scored 20 points for Florida Gulf Coast, which led the tournament’s top seed 35-22 in the first half. Filip Cvjeticanin had 13 points, all in the first half, and Kevin Cantinol also had 13 for the Eagles (15-17).
Florida Gulf Coast faded in the second half after its strong start in its bid to become the first A-Sun team to beat the top three seeds in the tournament. The Eagles advanced to the championship game by beating No. 3 USC Upstate and No. 2 Mercer.
Florida Gulf Coast was denied its attempt to complete a sweep of the day’s finals, after the Eagles beat Stetson in the women’s tournament championship game.
Following a 15-15 tie, the Eagles scored 11 straight points and kept the lead the remainder of the first half. Belmont closed the half with a 17-7 run to cut the lead to 42-39 at halftime. Clark, who made each of his four 3-pointers in the half, beat the buzzer with his final 3.
The Bruins kept the momentum, taking a 47-44 lead on Drew Hanlen’s 3-pointer about 2 minutes into the second half. The Eagles stayed close, trailing only 51-50, before Belmont pulled away with a 17-5 run.
Jenkins had a three-point play before scoring again to push the lead to 68-55.
Belmont’s last loss was on Jan. 21 to USC Upstate.