GREENVILLE, S.C. – In a hard fought battle, the Catawba Indians held on to defeat the Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne 71-67 to claim the 2019 SAC Pilot Flying J Men's Basketball Championship on Sunday (March 10). The title is the Catawba's first since 2009.
It was a back and forth game that saw five lead changes and four ties through the 40 minutes of play. The main difference in the game came on the boards as Catawba out rebounded the Bears 42-29, pulling down 18 offensive rebounds and scoring 17 second chance points.
Leading the way for the Indians was the championship's most valuable player, Devin Cooper with 12 points, while teammates Daquan Lilly and Jordan McElveen scored 13 points each. Lilly hauled in seven boards and Marcell Haskett added 10 points to the Catawba efforts.
For the Bears, Cory Thomas was the leading scorer with 19 points and six rebounds, while Bertrand Awana had 17 points and five rebounds. Jon Jean also scored in double figures with 12 points
The 2019 SAC Pilot Flying J Men's Basketball All-Tournament Team was also announced. The team is as follows:
Jarren Cottingham, Wingate
Cory Thomas, Lenoir-Rhyne
Bertrand Awana, Lenoir-Rhyne
Marcell Haskett, Catawba
Devin Cooper, Catawba – MVP
With the win, Catawba earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship.