Monday, February 27, 2017

No. 1 Union College Rolls Through AAC Tournament

Union College 85
Reinhardt 58

Final from Kingsport, Tennessee

Game recap by UC:

KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The No. 1-ranked Union College men's basketball team kept a number of streaks alive Saturday as it captured the 2017 Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Tournament championship with an 85-58 win over Reinhardt (Ga.).

The tournament championship is the Bulldogs' fourth in a row and fifth overall. Union (30-3 overall) has won its last 12 conference tournament games and its last 26 games against conference opponents. In addition, Union's win streak is now at 28 games.

"Our team collectively played really well for the entire tournament," said head coach Kevin Burton. "Winning 28 in a row and 30 overall going into the national tournament as the No. 1-ranked team in the country is a lot to be proud of so far."

Union received stellar performances from a couple of the usual suspects in Gerrard Newby (SR/Lexington, Ky. ) and Tyrone Sherman (SR/Chicago Heights, Ill.), but Jaylen Daniel (SR/Winchester, Ky.) completed a solid tournament run with 17 points and five rebounds in the title game, averaging 18.7 points per tournament game. Sherman led the Bulldogs in scoring this week with 19.0 points per game, while Newby averaged 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

All three collected All-Tournament Team honors with Sherman picking up the hardware for Tournament MVP, saving his best game for last with 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Unlike its previous two tournament games, Union waited until the second half to lock down the game. Union held a 15-9 lead following a Dominique Lindsey (JR/Tyrone, Ga.) 3-pointer with 13:14 to go in the first, but Reinhardt reeled off eight straight points to take a 17-15 lead following a Justin Bridges layup at the 10:39 mark.

The lead went back-and-forth on the next few possessions before Union used a 13-7 stretch to take a 38-30 lead into the half.

The Bulldogs came out of the break with their offense on full throttle, ripping off a 20-6 run to opening up a 58-36 margin with 12:55 remaining. Samuel Bunkley hit a 3-pointer to bring the margin back under 20 at 58-39, but Union pushed it back up over 20 and never looked back en route the 85-58 victory.

Newby locked up his 17th double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He also became the fifth player in program history to amass 1,000 rebounds in a career. He currently sits fourth all-time with 1,009. Newby joins Bulldog legends Paul Andrews and Ken Meibers as the only players in program history with at least 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.

Bunkley was the lone Eagle (22-9 overall) to score in double figures as he finished with 16.

Joining Sherman, Newby, and Daniel on the All-Tournament Team are Bunkley and Nehemiah Jones of Reinhardt, Brandon Moore of Allen (S.C.), and Tre Tiller of Tennessee Wesleyan.

Up next for Union is the NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament, which will be held on March 8-14 in Point Lookout, Mo. The seedings and bracket will be announced on Wednesday, March 1.

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