Kerron Johnson and Mick Hedgepeth each had double-doubles and Belmont used a big second half to defeat Florida Gulf Coast 83-69 and win the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship Saturday at Macon, Georgia.
With the victory, the Bruins earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament – their fifth in the last six seasons. They must wait a week before they learn their seeding and their first opponent.
Belmont (27-7) trailed by 11 with fewer than three minutes to play before halftime but finished the opening half on a 10-2 run that began and ended with Ian Clark 3-pointers, the latter with four seconds to go.
The Bruins went ahead to stay when Drew Hanlen’s 3-point broke a 44-44 tie 1:57 into the second half. They outscored Gulf Coast 44-27
Clark finished with a team-high 16 points and five Belmont players scored in double figures. Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds in addition to five assists, and Hedgepeth had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Florida Gulf Coast (15-17) got a game-high 20 points from Brett Comer.