College basketball: Chattanooga wins SoCon title
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. ó As the hometown fans celebrated around him, Chattanooga’s Keyron Sheard leapt on to the table at press row, landed on his back and started laughing.
“I was just so excited,” he said. “I was going to run all the way up to the top.”
During a season that seemed unlikely to end with a trip to the NCAA tournament, that’s exactly where Sheard and the Mocs are headed after beating the College of Charleston 80-69 on Monday night to win the Southern Conference championship.
Chattanooga (18-16) last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2005, losing in the opening round to Wake Forest.
It opened this season with 10 losses in its first 14 games, dropping games to teams like Tennessee, Memphis and USC along the way. The Mocs also closed the regular season with a three-game losing streak.
It was enough even to get coach John Shulman down. After losing to Wofford, dropping to 0-3 in the conference and hearing discontent from the fans, some friends forced him to go to lunch to talk about his attitude.
“They changed my coaching that day, and I became more positive,” he said.
From that point, Chattanooga won 11 of its next 14 games, helping it earn one of the No. 1 seeds in the SoCon tournament as a North Division co-champion.
The Mocs beat Elon and Samford before facing the College of Charleston (26-8). The teams were tied at 34 at the break, but Chattanooga scored the first 20 points of the second half.
“That was not good basketball,” Cougars coach Bobby Cremins said.
The College of Charleston didn’t score until 13:23 remained in the second half, when Andrew Goudelock hit a 3-pointer. That opened a 17-2 run that included five treys, cutting the Mocs’ lead to 56-51 with 8:30 left. Chattanooga went on another run, scoring 10 of the next 13 points.
The College of Charleston reached the title game by upsetting top-seeded Davidson.
“It was supposed to be a storybook ending,” Jermaine Johnson said, “but not all stories have a great ending.”
VCU 71, George Mason 50
RICHMOND, Va. ó Eric Maynor and Virginia Commonwealth are heading back to the NCAA tournament, and the stellar guard is bringing a disruptive big man along this time.
Maynor had 25 points and eight assists as the Rams (24-9) won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. Larry Sanders scored 18 points and set championship game records with 20 rebounds and seven blocks.
“My coach, everything he tells me, I listen,” Maynor said of head coach Anthony Grant. “I try to do everything he tells me to do. At shootaround today he told me, ‘Hey, at the beginning, feel things out, get your teammates involved, make the game easier for them and stuff will open up for you.’ And as I’m out there doing it, I’m saying to myself, ‘Yeah, he’s right.’ ”
Siena 77, Niagara 70
ALBANY, N.Y. ó Kenny Hasbrouck shook off a nagging calf injury to score 19 points as Siena (26-7) defended its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title and clinched its fifth NCAA tournament berth.
Hasbrouck went 1-for-10 in the first half. He had 17 points in the second half, and nine came during a 13-1 run that put the Saints ahead 63-51.
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