UNC-Asheville tops Coastal Carolina for Big South title
Conway, SC (Sports Network) - The first ticket to the "Big Dance" has been punched.
Chris Stephenson scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help UNC- Asheville clinch the Big South title with a 60-47 victory over Coastal Carolina.
Jaron Lane had 13 points and Matt Dickey added 12 for the third-seeded Bulldogs (19-13), who are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. UNC-Asheville scored 29 points off 21 Coastal Carolina turnovers.
Chad Gray finished with 13 points and nine boards for the Chanticleers (28-5), who lost in the conference championship game as the top seed for the second consecutive year.
Coastal Carolina, which never led in the game, fell behind 19-8 on J.P. Primm's three-pointer.
The Chanticleers trailed 29-22 at halftime and managed to close the gap to 39-37 when Anthony Raffa knocked down a trey with about 11 1/2 minutes remaining.
It remained a two-possession game until Dickey drained his lone three-pointer to put UNC-Asheville up 54-47 with 1:38 left.
Danny Nieman couldn't hit from beyond the arc on Coastal Carolina's next possession, then Lane followed up a Stephenson miss with a thunderous dunk to seal the Bulldogs' third Big South crown.
Dickey was named the tournament MVP...John Williams posted 10 points and nine rebounds for UNC-Asheville...Raffa and Sam McLaurin both netted 12 points in the loss...UNC-Asheville improved to 3-4 in the Big South title game, while the Chanticleers have lost their last three appearances since capturing their third championship in 1993.
03/05 19:52:34 ET