CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY: Abbey sweeps league titles to earn top NCAA regional seeds, Winthrop rolls, Queens falls and ACC tourney pairings

By Richard Walker

Belmont Abbey’s women’s basketball team after winning its first Conference Carolinas title since 2002.

Belmont Abbey College did something it hadn’t done since 2002 on Sunday.

The Crusaders men’s and women’s basketball teams won Conference Carolinas tournament titles in the same season for the first time since 2002.

Both teams later found out they would be the top-seeded teams in their respective NCAA Division II tournaments that begin later this week.

The Lady Crusaders had the most dramatic of the victories. The Abbey had to rally to force overtime and defeat Barton 68-62 at the Wheeler Center to extend their winning streak to 18 games.

Now 22-2 overall, the Lady Crusaders railed by 13 at halftime, were down by nine points with 4:39 left in regulation and five points with 2:29 left in overtime.

But the Abbey had strong closing kicks led by Maria Kuhlman to win the school’s eighth women’s basketball tournament title – and first since 2002. Kuhlman scored 21 of her 23 points in the second half and overtime for coach Jason Williams’ team.

Allie Downing’s layup with one second left in regulation sent the game to overtime. Brittany Autry was later named tournament MVP.

The Lady Crusaders have now won Conference Carolinas titles in 1990, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2021.

Barton, the last team to beat the Abbey on Jan. 15, was led by Shanika Peterkin’s 19 points.

Here’s the all-tournament team: Ali Golden (King), Azariah Fields (Mount Olive), Jami Tham-Morrobel (Barton), Shanika Peterkin (Barton), Irelynn Davidson (Belmont Abbey), Maria Kuhlman (Belmont Abbey), MVP – Brittany Autry (Belmont Abbey)

Here’s full Conference Carolinas women’s tournament pairings and results:

March 2 quarterfinals
#1 Belmont Abbey 82, #8 Lees-McRae 47
#4 King 81, #5 North Greenville 52
#6 Mount Olive 63, #3 Emmanuel 59
#2 Barton 82, #7 Chowan 58

March 4 semifinals
#1 Belmont Abbey 68, #4 King 59
#2 Barton 66, #6 Mount Olive 64

Sunday championship
#1 Belmont Abbey 68, #2 Barton 62 (OT)

The Crusaders took a rare five-game series with another school three games to two by winning 82-70 at Emmanuel. The teams had split to non-conference matchups and split their conference matchups before Sunday’s game.

The Abbey (18-4), winners of seven straight, used extraordinary offensive balance to take their fourth league championship – and first since 2013. The Crusaders had lost the last three league tournament title games.

Sean Halloran and L.J. McCoy led the way 14 points apiece on a day in which all nine Abbey players scored eight or more points. Halloran was later named tournament MVP.

Here’s the all-tournament team: Jonathan McFall (Chowan), Jacob Redding (North Greenville), K.J. Jones II (Emmanuel), Brandon Simpson (Emmanuel), L.J. McCoy (Belmont Abbey), Quest Aldridge (Belmont Abbey), MVP – Sean Halloran (Belmont Abbey)

Conference Carolinas men’s tournament pairings and results:

March 2 quarterfinals
#1 Emmanuel 93, #8 King 68
#4 North Greenville 93, #5 Lees-McRae 88
#6 Chowan 79, #3 Southern Wesleyan 75
#2 Belmont Abbey 63, #7 Mount Olive 61

March 4 semifinals
#1 Emmanuel 89, #4 North Greenville 72
#2 Belmont Abbey 70, #6 Chowan 58

Sunday championship
#2 Belmont Abbey 82, #1 Emmanuel 70

NCAA Division II pairings

Belmont Abbey will be the top-seeded team in the men’s and women’s Southeast Regionals this week.

The women’s regional will be played Friday, Saturday and March 15 at Carson-Newman in Jefferson City, Tenn.

The top-seeded Lady Crusaders (19-2) and second-seeded Barton (12-2) get byes on Friday while third-seeded Carson-Newman (15-3) faces sixth-seeded Catawba (10-3) and fourth-seeded Tusculum (18-3) faces fifth-seeded Tuskegee (12-1) in the quarterfinals. The Abbey meets the Tusculum-Tuskegee winner on Saturday and Barton faces the Carson-Newman-Catawba winner on Saturday.

The men’s regional will be played Saturday, next Sunday and March 16 at Lincoln Memorial in Harrogate, Tenn.

The top-seeded Crusaders (18-4) and second-seeded Lincoln Memorial (16-3) get byes on Saturday while third-seeded Carson-Newman (16-5) faces sixth-seeded Tusculum (13-5) and fourth-seeded Emmanuel (15-6) faces fifth-seeded Queens (16-5) in the quarterfinals. The Abbey meets the Emmanuel-Queens winner next Sunday and Lincoln Memorial faces the Carson-Newman-Tusculum winner next Sunday.

Big South men’s basketball

Winthrop celebrates its 2021 Big South men’s basketball title.

Winthrop 80, Campbell 53: D.J. Burns, Jr., scored 22 points by making 11 of 12 field goals for a tournament championship game record 91.7 conversion percentage and the host Eagles shot a tournament-game record 79.2 percent in the second half to earn their 12th NCAA tournament appearance.

Burns was voted to the All-Tournament Team and was joined by teammates Charles Falden and Chandler Vaudrin. Vaudrin was also named MVP and Campbell’s Jordan Whitfield and Ricky Clemons also were all-tournament team selections.

Big South men’s tournament pairings and results:

Feb. 27 first round
#7 Hampton 67, #10 Presbyterian 65
#8 High Point 65, #9 USC Upstate 60

March 1 quarterfinals
#1 Winthrop 83, #8 High Point 54
#5 Longwood 77, #4 UNC Asheville 61
#2 Radford 67, #7 Hampton 52
#3 Campbell 63, #6 Gardner-Webb 57

March 4 semifinals
#3 Campbell 78, #2 Radford 60
#1 Winthrop 82, #5 Longwood 61

Sunday championship
#1 Winthrop 80, #3 Campbell 53

Big South women’s basketball

The tournament pairings:

Note: Radford (9-9) withdrew due to COVID pause in program.
Saturday’s first round
#8 USC Upstate 72, #9 Charleston Southern 64

Monday’s quarterfinals
#8 USC Upstate at #1 High Point (17-3), 6 p.m.
#5 Presbyterian (10-8) at #4 Gardner-Webb (10-7), 7 p.m.
#7 Winthrop (5-15) at #2 Campbell (11-4), 6 p.m.
#6 UNC-Asheville (9-10) at #3 Longwood (12-6), 7 p.m.

Thursday’s semifinals
at higher seeded teams

March 14 championship
at highest remaining seed, 2 p.m.

SAC men’s basketball

Carson-Newman 88, Queens 79: Ron Dyer scored 20 points for the Eagles as they won their fourth SAC tournament title and first since 2015 at Queens. The host Royals were led by Jamari Smith’s 26 points and 17 from former Huss and Gaston Day standout Quan McCluney.

ACC men’s basketball

The tournament pairings:

Tuesday’s First Round
#12 Pitt vs. #13 Miami, 2 p.m.
#10 Duke vs. #15 Boston College, 4:30 p.m.
#11 Notre Dame vs. #14 Wake Forest, 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s Second Round
#8 Syracuse vs. #9 NC State, noon
#5 Clemson vs. Pitt/Miami winner, 2:30 p.m.
#7 Louisville vs. Duke/Boston College winner, 6:30 p.m.
#6 North Carolina vs. Notre Dame/Wake Forest winner, 9 p.m.

Thursday’s Quarterfinals
#1 Virginia vs. Syracuse/NC State winner, noon
#4 Georgia Tech vs. Wednesday 2:30 p.m. winner, 2:30 p.m
#2 Florida State vs. Wednesday 6:30 p.m. winner, 6:30 p.m.
#3 Virginia Tech vs. Wednesday 9 p.m. winner, 9 p.m.

Friday’s Semifinals
Thursday afternoon winners, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday evening winners, 9 p.m.

Saturday’s Championship
8:30 p.m.

ACC women’s basketball

N.C. State 58, Louisville 56: The Wolfpack claimed its second consecutive tournament championship on Sunday in what will be remembered as one of the event’s more fantastic finishes. Raina Perez’s 17-foot jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining snapped a tie score, and ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans missed a 3-point try at the buzzer that would have won it for the top-seeded Cardinals.
N.C. State (20-2) earned the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament qualifying spot while securing back-to-back ACC Tournament championships for the first time in program history. Prior to winning each of the last two years under head coach Wes Moore, the Wolfpack’s previous tourney titles came in 1980, 1985, 1987 and 1991 under the legendary Kay Yow.
Wolfpack junior center Elissa Cunane averaged 23.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in the tournament and was named MVP.