7th Heaven: No. 22 Men's Basketball Secures AAC Championship

(Photo: Union College Athletics)

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – It was anything but easy, but Union College men's basketball got it done.

The Bulldogs secured their seventh consecutive Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) regular-season championship with an 86-75 win over host Point University (Ga.) on Saturday.

Union is 21-9 overall and won the regular-season crown with an 18-6 league mark. Montreat College (N.C.) finished second at 17-7 in the AAC. Point ends the season 15-15 overall and 11-13 in conference play.

By virtue of the regular-season title, Union is the No. 1 seed in next week's AAC Tournament and receives an automatic berth to the NAIA Division II National Championship Tournament, which begins play on March 11 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

QUOTABLE

"Winning this AAC championship is a really big deal," said head coach Kevin Burton. "I'm so incredibly proud of our players for overcoming so much to achieve this unprecedented accomplishment. They have shown toughness and big-time desire."

SECOND-HALF PUSH SEALS VICTORY

Union never trailed in the game, but it had a time giving itself some breathing room in the first half. After Jason Carter gave Union a 26-17 lead with 8:02 left in the half, Point went on a 9-0 run to tie it up at 26-all with 5:43 on the clock.

Jakobe Wharton buried a 3-pointer to cap a 13-2 surge as the Bulldogs led 39-28 with 2:16 to go en route to a 41-33 halftime cushion.

Union opened the second half on fire, opening up a 79-53 lead by the 9:20 mark. Point made things a little interesting as it outscored Union 22-7 down the stretch, but it was too little, too late as Union secured the 86-75 victory and the AAC regular-season championship.

STAT OF THE GAME

Once again, the Bulldog reserves came up huge as the bench provided 39 points. In fact, Union's top two scorers came off the pine to lead the way. Markelle Turner poured in a team-high 19 points with Kelvin Jackson adding 16.

BULLDOG NOTES

Isiah Knight and Austin Cummins also scored in double figures, netting 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Union shot 50 percent from the field (33-of-66) and from 3-point range (13-of-26).
The 13 made 3-pointers are tied for the second-most by the Bulldogs this season. Union's season-high is 14.
The Bulldogs dished out 17 assists with three players leading the way with four apiece.
Cummins collected four more steals, giving him 62 on the year.
NEXT FOR THE BULLDOGS

Union will open AAC Tournament play on Thursday against No. 8 seed Bryan College (Tenn.). Tipoff is set for 10:15 a.m. The tournament is being played at the MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center in Kingsport, Tenn.