Winthrop wins Big South
Conway, SC (Sports Network) - Mantoris Robinson finished with 14 points, as Winthrop defeated Coastal Carolina, 64-53, in the Big South Tournament final to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Matt Morgan finished with 12 points for the third-seeded Eagles (19-13), who will make their ninth NCAA tourney appearance, and first since 2008. Winthrop, which also got 11 points from Justin Burton, had knocked off second-seeded Radford in the semifinals.
Chad Gray recorded 16 points for top-seeded and host Coastal Carolina (28-6), which carried a seven-game win streak into Saturday's contest. The Chanticleers were looking for their fourth Big South tourney title and third NCAA tourney appearance.
The contest was close for the majority of the second half, though with a little more than five minutes left, Andre Jones hit a jumper to put Winthrop ahead 46-42 and start a key six-point burst.
Robinson had two free throws, and Morgan's tip-in with four minutes to play made it a 50-42 Eagles lead.
The teams traded free throws over the next several possessions, as Coastal Carolina's Mario Edwards, Robinson and Gray each went 1-of-2 from the line.
Charles Corbin then sank a layup for Winthrop with 2:16 left, making it a 53-44 game. The basket began a back-breaking eight-point Eagles run that ended on two Jones free throws with 1:08 to go, pushing the lead to 59-44 and effectively sealing the victory.
Coastal Carolina held a small lead for most of the first half, and got baskets from Danny Nieman and Gray at the end of the period for a 26-24 halftime lead.
Winthrop improved to 10-1 in Big South championship game appearances. The Eagles became the first No. 3 seed to win the conference tourney since 1992...Winthrop also defeated Coastal Carolina in the 2006 Big South Tournament title game, while Coastal Carolina beat Winthrop in the 1993 title match...Logan Johnson scored 10 points for the Chanticleers.
03/06 21:51:23 ET