DANVILLE, Ky. - After falling to the Berry Vikings twice in the regular season by a combined 11 points, the Sewanee men's basketball team avoided an epic comeback by the Vikings with a 70-63 victory Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2019 Southern Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament inside Alumni Gymnasium on the campus of Centre College.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP
Final Score: Sewanee (21-6) 70, Berry (19-7) 63
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HOW IT HAPPENED
-The Tigers were shooting lights out early in the contest, draining their first six 3-pointers of the contest to lead 22-9 at the under-12 media timeout in the first half.
-The Vikings, who finished the regular season as the 2-seed in the tournament, got back into the contest to trail by 11 points, 35-24, at the break.
-The Tigers, who shot 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from the floor and 7-of-13 from long distance, came out shooting to start the second half. The Tigers went on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the period before Berry was forced to burn a timeout.
-Sewanee was able to make it a 20-point affair with 10:30 left in regulation, but Berry chipped away, as they cut the deficit to single digits with 3:45 to go.
-After a trey by Elijah Hirsh with 51 seconds to go to make it a four-point game, 65-61, the Tigers sealed the contest with free throws, despite Berry having an opportunity to make a one-possession game with 21 seconds to go.
BACK TO THE 'SHIP!
-Sewanee will be making its second appearance in the SAA Tournament Championship Game in the seven years of the conference.
-Earning their first trip to the final since 2016, the Tigers will be seeking their first conference tournament title since 1997.
Video courtesy of Centre Athletics
SEWANEE KEY STATISTICS
-Luke Smith became the first Sewanee men's basketball player since 1995 to record a 40-point game since Eric Ochel's 55 in 1995. The Knoxville, Tenn. native finished with a career-best 40 points on 10-of-14 shooting. The 40 points is the second-most in an SAA Tournament game. Caleb Johnson of Berry dropped 45 in the title game last season.
-Recording a career-best eight made 3-pointers, the sophomore finished 8-of-11 from downtown.
BERRY KEY STATISTICS
-Elijah Hirsh scored 24 points and corralled 11 rebounds to lead the Vikings, who finish the season 19-7.
The Tigers will next battle for the Championship of the SAA Tournament Sunday at 3 p.m. ET as they play Centre, who defeated Oglethorpe in the other semifinal game, 75-72.