Sunday, February 28, 2016

Union College Wins Third Straight AAC Tournament Title

Union College 71
Bluefield 57

Final from Kingsport, Tennessee

Game recap by UC:

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - New year, new team, but same result. Union College captured its third Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Tournament championship in a row with 71-57 victory over No. 5 seed Bluefield College on Saturday.

Held at the MeadowView Marriott in Kingsport, Tenn., the second-seeded Bulldogs used hot 3-point shooting midway through the second half to give themselves some breathing room en route to the 14-point win and championship.

For Union head coach Kevin Burton, he is simply thrilled to have his players get to enjoy this championship.

"When you think about people like T.J. Jones (SR/Spartanburg, S.C.), Sean Brown (JR/Louisville, Ky. ), J.D. Tucker (SR/Charleston, S.C.) and Dalton Whitney (JR/Bowling Green, Ky. ), my heavens, I'm so happy for them to get to experience this because they've earned it; they deserve it," he said. "Not only are they good kids to coach, but they're some of the finest people you'd ever want to associate yourself with."

This is the third year in a row Union has won both the AAC regular-season and tournament championships. While the No. 2 seed, Union shared the regular-season crown with Tennessee Wesleyan College this season. Since 2011, Union has won four of the six tournament championships.

Levon Harper (JR/Danville, Va.) proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the paint for Union (28-6 overall) all tournament long, earning him Tournament MVP honors.

"Thank you, Levon Harper, for being the guy I was hoping he'd be when I started recruiting him a year ago," Burton said. "His timing in stepping up could not have been any better. For him to get the MVP is super cool."

In all three tournament games, Harper came off the bench, averaging 13.0 points and 9.33 rebounds per game. He shot a tournament-best 70.8 percent from the floor, hitting 17-of-24 shots. Harper's 6-foot-9 frame came up big on the offensive glass as 11 of his 28 total rebounds were offensive.

Not surprisingly, Gerrard Newby (JR/Lexington, Ky. ) and Nick Riley (SR/Hopkinsville, Ky.) joined Harper on the All-Tournament Team as the duo has been key fixtures in the Bulldogs' success. Newby averaged 16.7 points per game, while Riley led Union with a 20.3 average. The surprise addition to All-Tournament Team for Union was Sam Natt (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.).

Complete Recap

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