ST. LOUIS — Bradley guard Darrell Brown was not happy with his selection to the Missouri Valley Conference all-league second team earlier in week.
He displayed his displeasure in a big way on Sunday.
Brown scored 21 points and Elijah Childs added 17 to lead fourth-seeded Bradley to its 10th NCAA Tournament with an 80-66 victory over seventh-seeded Valparaiso in the MVC championship game.
Ja’Shon Henry scored 16 points for the Braves, Nate Kennell chipped in with 14 points and Ville Tahvanainen added 10.
Javon Freeman-Liberty paced Valparaiso with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Bradley (23-11) claimed its fourth MVC title and became the ninth team in history to defend its tournament crown
Brown, who came into the contest averaging 15.3 points per game, was certain he deserved first-team honors.
The perceived snub bothered him.
Bradley Coach Brian Wardle made sure to keep Brown properly motivated. He jokingly called Brown, “second-team,” at every opportunity during the days leading up to the contest.
“In the hotel he kept calling me that,” Brown said. “I thought it was funny. But, I’m a self-driven person. He really didn’t have to do that. I felt disrespected. So, I took upon myself to prove everybody wrong.”
Wardle’s actions paid off.
“He came in with a chip on his shoulder and he proved it,” Wardle said. “There’s nothing better than when you see true hard work pay off. He let everyone see what he was made of — it was great.”
Brown hit on six of 14 shots including a 4 of 6 effort from three-point range. He kick-started a 38-18 run over the final 12 minutes and 2 seconds with a jumper that the game 49-all. His three-pointer later in the run pushed the lead to 62-52. He also added nine assists.
“He can carry us when he gets hot like that,” Childs said.
Valparaiso (19-16) led 48-42 before the Braves took charge,
Bradley rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat Northern Iowa 57-54 in last year’s MVC final.
The six-point hole on Sunday was nothing for the Braves, who have played well down the stretch over the past month.
“It’s one possession at a time and everyone contributing,” Brown said. “It’s not like we panic when we get down. We knew what we had to do and we did it.”‘
WINTHROP 76, HAMPTON 68
ROCK HILL, S.C. — It took a freshman to bring Winthrop back to where it almost always used to go — the NCAA Tournament.
DJ Burns scored 16 points, 12 of them in the second half, to lead the second-seeded Eagles to a victory over fifth-seeded Hampton in the Big South Conference championship game.
It is Winthrop’s 11th tournament appearance — all since 1999 — but only the Eagles second in the past 10 seasons.
Winthrop (23-10) took a 2-0 lead and then trailed for the next 26 minutes, falling as far behind as 15 points in the first half.
With Hampton (15-18) up 39-32 with 16 minutes to go, Burns took over. He scored 12 of Winthrop’s next 21 points on a combination of soft hooks and power spin moves.
His bucket with 7:47 left put the Eagles up 53-46. Hampton wouldn’t close within a possession the rest of the way.
Hampton’s Jermaine Marrow, the nation’s third leading scorer at 25 points a game, was held to 18 points. The senior played all but three minutes over the Pirates three tournament games, scored 32 in a quarterfinal win over Gardner-Webb and 36 in the semifinal win over top-seeded Radford.
Ben Stanley added 15 points for the Pirates. Stanley and Greg Heckstall, who had 16 rebounds, also played all 40 minutes for Hampton, who appeared to tire toward the end of the game.
Josh Ferguson had nine point and nine rebounds for Winthrop.
LIBERTY 73, LIPSCOMB 57
LYNCHBURG, Va. — Caleb Homesley scored 16 points and Liberty took command with a long first-half run and won its second consecutive Athlantic Sun championship defeating Lipscomb, earning the Flames an automatic NCAA Tournament bid
Elijah Cuffee added 16 points and Darius McGhee had 13 as the Flames (30-4) set a school record for victories in a season. They also avenged a 77-71 loss to finish the regular season.
Ahsan Asadullah scored 22 and grabbed nine rebounds despite foul trouble for the Bisons (16-16) and Andrew Fleming scored 15. It was Lipscomb’s third consecutive championship appearance and second consecutive loss to Liberty.
The Flames led 16-14 when Homesley’s layup with 11 minutes left in the first half sparked a 29-12 run the rest of the half. Homesley scored 12 in the burst, including the first seven, and Cuffee had eight of his 10 in the half.
Trailing 45-26 at the half, Lipscomb scored the first seven points of the second half as the Flames missed their first seven shots, but McGhee settled them with back-to-back three-pointers and they rebuilt their lead and weren’t challenged again.
SUN BELT CONFERENCE
SATURDAY’S GAMES LA.-Lafayette 73, Arkansas State 66
Coastal Carolina 63, UT Arlington 62
Louisiana at Georgia Southern, 5 p.m. Coastal Carolina at Appalachian State, 5 p.m.
Georgia Southern-La.-Lafayette winner at Georgia State, 5 p.m. Appalachian State-Coastal Carolina winner at Texas State, 6 p.m.
At The Leonard E. Merrell Center Katy, Texas
Northwestern State vs. A&M Corpus Christi, 5 p.m.
Lamar vs. McNeese State, 7:30 p.m.
Sam Houston State vs. Northwestern State-A&M Corpus Christi winner, 5 p.m. Nicholls State vs. Lamar-McNeese State winner, 7:30 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin vs. Sam Houston State—Northwestern State-A&M Corpus Christi winner, 5 p.m.
Abilene Christian vs. Nicholls State—Lamar-McNeese State winner, 7:30 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 8:30 p.m.
Alabama A&M at Prairie View, TBA Alcorn State at Jackson State, TBA Alabama State at Southern (La.), TBA Grambling State at Texas Southern, 8 p.m.
At Bartow Arena Semifinals
Prairie View-Alabama A&M winner vs. Alcorn State-Jackson State winner, 2:30 p.m. Alabama State-Southern (La.) winner vs. Texas Southern-Grambling State winner, 8:30 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 5 p.m.
Automatic qualifiers to NCAA Tournament
Belmont (Ohio Valley)
Bradley (Missouri Valley)
Liberty (Atlantic Sun)
Utah St. (Mountain West)
Winthrop (Big South)
Sports on 03/09/2020