HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama-Huntsville will play in the South Regional championship for the second consecutive year as the top-seeded Chargers knocked off No. 4 seed Florida Tech 82-71 on Sunday night. The win — UAH’s 19th consecutive — pushes the Chargers to 28-3 on the season. Florida Tech’s season ends at 23-7.
The championship game will feature the Chargers and Christian Brothers — a team that UAH has defeated three times this season.
It was a balanced attack for the Blue and White that produced the victory as all five starters plus one bench player ended the night in double figures led by Zane Campbell’s 17 points.
The first half was an exciting back-and-forth stanza that featured four ties and five lead changes, and the Panthers built up as much as a six-point lead as they were up 27-21 with 6:28 left.
The shots stopped falling at that point for Florida Tech as a scoreless drought of five minutes coincided with an impressive 14-0 run by UAH that was capped by an electrifying dunk by Conner Blasi that got the crowd into the ballgame and put the hosts up 35-27.
Blasi finished the night with 15 points in 16 minutes, and he grabbed seven rebounds.
After taking a 38-31 advantage into the locker room at the halftime break, the Chargers pushed their lead out to 11 at 46-35 as Josh Magette and Srdjan Boskovic connected on back-to-back 3-pointers with 14:46 left, but the Panthers fought back and used a 17-8 run to cut the lead to a narrow 54-52 with 9:36 on the clock.
The Panthers — behind a 21-point performance by Anthony Jackson and a 19-point, 11-rebound effort by Derek Hellemann — were able to keep the Chargers from pulling away in the next two minutes, twice pulling back within two, but the Blue and White eventually widened the gap.
A 17-6 run pushed the Charger advantage out to 74-61 — the largest of the game for UAH — with 2:08 remaining, and the team connected on six free throws down the stretch to hold Florida Tech at bay and stake its spot in the championship game.
In addition to his 17 points, Campbell also led the team with eight rebounds on the evening although Florida Tech did win the battle on the glass by a slim 41-37 margin.
Joining Campbell and Blasi in double figures was Jaime Smith who scored 14 as he connected on three more attempts from beyond the arc to move within one of tying the record of 223 career made 3-pointers set by his brother Jason as Jaime now owns 222.
Srdjan Boskovic chipped in with 13 points on the night, while Magette added 12 and Xavier Baldwin collected 11.
The Chargers shot 50 percent from the field for the game while limiting Florida Tech to shoot just 37 percent.