Limestone wins first conference title
Saints heading to first NCAA Tournament with win against Coker
GAFFNEY, S.C. -- No. 2 seed Limestone (23-6, 14-4) capped off the most successful Division II season in program history with a thrilling 68-59 victory against No. 4 Coker to win the 2011 Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Tournament and earn the program’s first-ever bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. It is the first conference championship in program history.
With Limestone leading 58-47 with 5:06 to play, Coker mounted a tremendous comeback as they used a 12-2 run to close to within 60-59 with 1:33 to play. A basket by redshirt-junior forward Jarrell Douglass then sparked an 8-0 run, highlighted by 6-of-6 shooting from the line by junior guard Stewart Clark, that clinched the 68-59 victory and the first-ever Conference Carolinas Championship for Limestone.
Jarrell Douglass earned Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament and was joined on the All-Tournament team by redshirt-senior forward Danny Friend and junior guard Michael Barrett.
In the first half, with the game tied at 6-6 at the 16:12 mark, Limestone used an 8-0 run fueled by five points from Jarrell Douglass to take a 14-6 advantage. Trailing 19-13 with 7:43 to play, Coker used a 7-2 run to pull back to within 21-20. A pair of free throws and a layup then stretched LC’s lead to 25-20 before the Cobras tied up the game with a 5-0 run of their own.
A Douglass layup gave Limestone back the lead but it was a Douglass miss that provided the highlight of the half. Michael Barrett then crashed the boards and slammed home the rebound to close out the half with a 29-25 lead.
Leading 34-31 at the 16:16 mark, the Saints put together a 10-3 run over the next 2:44 to take a 44-33 lead. They would stretch their lead to 11 on several occasions and maintain at least an eight-point advantage until Coker clawed to within 52-45 with 6:19 to play. A 6-2 Limestone run then made it 58-47 and set the stage for their late game heroics.
Liam Kyle led all scorers with 22 on the night and added five rebounds and four assists while Joselle Bracy finished with 12 points. Tom Wright added 10 points and a team-high tying five rebounds and Delonte Doles, playing in foul trouble much of the night, chipped in with eight points, four assists and three boards.
Jarrell Douglass led Limestone with a near triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to go along with four blocks while Michael Barrett had 15 points. Danny Friend added 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and Stewart Clark finished with eight points on perfect 8-of-8 foul shooting, including 6-of-6 down the stretch.
With the win, Limestone has earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will await word on what regional they will be placed in and who they will face. The NCAA Selection Show will be aired live on NCAA.com at 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 6.