Trojans Move to Championship Game

ANDERSON, S.C. - Junior guard Kevis Cornwell hit the second of two free throw attempts with .7 seconds on the clock to lift the third-seeded Anderson men's basketball team past No. 7 seed Belmont Abbey, 90-89, in semifinal round action of the Conference Carolinas Tournament Friday night at the Abney Athletic Center. Anderson (23-6) earned a trip to the tournament championship game by outlasting the Crusaders, who ended their season at 15-14. The Trojans, who are ranked sixth in the NCAA’s southeast region, advance to face top-seeded Mount Olive in Sunday’s title matchup after the “other” Trojans defeated fourth-seeded Pfeiffer, 124-103. AU will be looking for its second win against the Trojans during this stellar season, as Anderson and Mount Olive split their regular-season games, with Anderson handing Mount Olive its lone setback in league action this season. Anderson has won nine straight games and 10 of its last 11, while Belmont Abbey had won three straight since suffering a home loss to Limestone on Feb. 20. Trailing, 89-87, first-team all-conference selection Brandon Young connected on two clutch free throws with exactly one minute left to knot the score for the sixth and final time of the night. Following a turnover by the Crusaders, Young worked the clock inside the 10-second mark and took a 3-point attempt from the top of the circle that missed the mark and in the frantic scramble for the rebound, Cornwell came up with the ball and drew the foul. Cornwell, shooting just under 71 percent from the line on the season, misfired on his first attempt but nailed the second to set the winning margin, as the Abbey was unable to get off a shot before the horn sounded. Anderson opened a 64-51 lead with 14:52 left, but the Abbey mounted a 24-11 run over the next 7:20 to knot the game at 75 with 7:32 left. Of the 24 points in the run, 12 came from three point range as the Crusaders battled back. Anderson momentarily regained the edge on a Cornwell basket at 77-75, but the Crusaders scored the next five points to claim an 80-77 advantage. The Abbey held that lead for the next three and a half minutes, moving it to as much as four points on a Jay Council jumper with 3:53 remaining and the lead rising to 85-81. Anderson grabbed the lead right back by scoring five unanswered points, getting a jumper from Trey Britton and a 3-pointer by Oskars Ernsteins to give the Trojans an 86-85 lead. Kyle Phillips moved the Abbey back on top 19 seconds later, but a free throw by Young deadlocked the game at 87. Phillips again had an answer, connecting on a jumper with 1:20 left to push the Crusaders ahead 89-87, setting up the final frantic minute. Anderson shot 66 percent as Young and Cornwell led four Trojans in double figures with 16 points each, while Tony Anderson added 15 and Britton had 12. Belmont Abbey shot 51 percent for the game and 52 percent in the second half as Phillips and Richard Barbee led all scorers with 17 points. Tip-off for the championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Mount Olive. Box Score
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