Monday, March 06, 2017
Winthrop: 2016-17 Big South Men's Basketball Champions
ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Winthrop earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010, beating Campbell 76-59 Sunday in the Big South Conference Tournament championship game behind Keon Johnson's 26 points.
The top-seeded Eagles (26-6) scored on the first possession of the game and never trailed. Winthrop won on its home court and snapped its streak of three straight losses in the conference title final.
Winthrop went to the NCAA Tournament in nine seasons from 1999-2010. The Eagles' lone win came in 2007 against Notre Dame.
After two straight 31-point games, the 5-foot-7 Johnson won the MVP award for the tournament. The senior opened the second half with back-to-back 3s, and scored 15 of Winthrop's first 19 points in the second half.
Xavier Cooks had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Winthrop and Rod Perkins scored all 15 of his points in the first half.
Chris Clemons, who scored 51 points Thursday for Campbell (17-17) in a quarterfinal win over second-seeded UNC Asheville and got 33 in the semifinals against Radford, had 29. The 5-foot-9 sophomore scored 16 straight points for the seventh-seeded Camels in the second half.
Campbell's only appearance in the NCAA Tournament came in 1992, when it lost to eventual champion Duke.
The Eagles took a quick 12-2 lead as Campbell missed seven of its first eight shots. The Camels rallied to tie it at 21, but Winthrop responded with a 9-0 run.
Once Johnson hit his first 3 of the second half, the Eagles led by double digits the rest of the way.
Winthrop lost to Coastal Carolina in the 2014 and 2015 finals and UNC Asheville last season.
Winthrop: This is the Eagles' first NCAA appearance under fifth-year coach Pat Kelsey. ... The Eagles are now 6-0 in Big South finals as the top seed.
Winthrop awaits seeding for the NCAA Tournament. The 68-team bracket will be revealed Sunday, March 12.