Sun Belt Conference Tournament Recaps
(Saturday, March 9th)
Final Score: FIU 69, Arkansas-Little Rock 54
Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - Malik Smith poured in 25 points as the fourth-seed FIU Panthers defeated the fifth-seed Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans, 69-54, in a Sun Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup at the Convention Center.
Deric Hill had 12 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals while Tymell Murphy added 12 points of his own for FIU (18-12) which advances to take on top seed Middle Tennessee in Sunday's semifinals.
John Gillon scored 16 points off the bench, Leroy Isler tallied 13 points and Will Neighbour had 10 rebounds for UALR (17-15).
At the end of the first half FIU led 34-26 after hitting 46.4 percent of its attempts from the field while notching eight shots from beyond the arc. UALR remained within striking distance despite shooting 27.3 percent from the field by netting 13-of-15 from the free-throw line.
After the break the Panthers shot at a 47.6 percent clip while the Trojans were at 33.3 percent. The Panthers also had the edge from the free-throw line where they went 12-of-19 to pull away for the win in the last 20 minutes.
Both teams turned the ball over 21 times but FIU had a 29-17 advantage in points off turnovers.
Final Score: Middle Tennessee 81, Louisiana 66
Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - Bruce Massey scored 15 points as the top- seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders routed the eighth-seed Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, 81-66, to move on in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Summit Arena.
Raymond Cintron added 12 points and James Gallman had 11 for Middle Tennessee (28-4) which takes on FIU in Sunday's semifinal round.
Alan-Michael Thompson scored 17 points, Elfrid Payton tacked on 15, Bryant Mbamalu added 14 and Shawn Long chipped in 10 for Louisiana (13-20).
In the first half the Blue Raiders shot 51.9 percent from the field to take a 39-33 lead into the break. The Ragin' Cajuns connected on 45.5 percent from the field.
After the break the Blue Raiders nailed 21-of-26 shots from the free-throw line and shot 45 percent from the field to pull away for the win.
Middle Tennessee had a 36-27 edge in rebounds while outscoring Louisiana, 17-10, in points off turnovers.
Final Score: Western Kentucky 62, South Alabama 59
Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - T.J. Prince scored a team-high 22 points as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers slipped by the South Alabama Jaguars, 62-59, in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Summit Arena.
Also scoring in double figures for the sixth-seeded Hilltoppers (18-15) were George Fant and Jamal Crook with 18 and 10 points, respectively, the former also pulling down a game-high nine rebounds.
The third-seeded Jaguars (17-12) were led by Augustine Rubit who dropped in 22 points and cleared eight rebounds, but he shot just 4-of-18 from the floor on the night. Javier Carter pitched in with 11 points in the loss.
USA shot a dismal 6-of-25 from the floor in the first half, but thanks to a 13-of-15 showing at the free-throw line in the frame the team was able to stay within striking distance at the break, down by just three points at 29-26.
In the second half WKU connected on 52.4 percent from the field in order to keep up with the Jags and eventually take the narrow win.
With the victory the Hilltoppers, who were outscored at the free-throw line by a 23-11 margin, will now clash with Arkansas State in the semifinals on Sunday night.
Final Score: Arkansas State 68, Troy 63 (OT)
Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - Brandon Peterson recorded a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, as the Arkansas State Red Wolves posted a 68-63 overtime win against the Troy Trojans in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Summit Arena.
Also scoring in double figures for the second-seeded Red Wolves (18-11) was Ed Townsel who tallied 19 points off the bench.
The 10th-seeded Trojans (12-20) were paced by Hunter Williams with 15 points and five assists, followed by Antoine Myers with 12 points in the setback.
Both teams had trouble putting the ball in the basket in the first half, but of the nine field goals made by Troy, five came down from 3-point range, affording the squad a 26-18 lead at the break.
In the second half the Trojans converted a solid 50 percent from the floor, but at the same time the squad was outscored at the free-throw line, 18-4, which eventually led the game into overtime knotted at 57-57.
In the extra session the Trojans made just two field goals as ASU survived.
With the victory Arkansas State, which outscored the Trojans by a 22-8 margin at the charity stripe, will now clash with sixth-seeded Western Kentucky in the semifinals on Sunday night.
Following the outcome Troy head coach Don Maestri, who won his 500th game on Friday night, announced his retirement.
03/10 03:13:03 ET