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The Bisons played a rare high-scoring GSC contest in the tournament semifinals against the East’s #2 seed, Valdosta State, but they came out on top, 89-84. It wasn’t an overly fast-paced game, but both teams offenses were clicking, as evidenced by the summary below.
The two teams combined for a low turnover rate and added good offensive rebounding to their solid shooting performances, but the Bisons were enough better at rebounding to pull out the close victory.
Matt Hall’s 35 points paced both teams. He made shots from all over the floor, shooting 11-of-20 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line, including 5-of-12 from three-point range. Steven Barnett and Chris Dixon also scored in double figures, and five players had at least 5 rebounds, led by Jesse Bynum’s 9 (6 offensive).
It’s more fun to play a close game if you actually win in the end, and the Bisons did just that in the GSC semifinals, advancing to the final game for the first time in school history. They’ll face Christian Brothers in the finals for their second televised game of the year, which will be on CSS across much of the southeast. The Bucs knocked out North Alabama, the #1 team in the East, which had the best record in the conference entering the tournament. The Bisons and Bucs split their previous two games, but the way Christian Brothers is playing (with this game in their backyard), I would say they’re solid favorites to win today’s game.
Elsewhere in the South Region
Both Sunshine State top seeds advanced in their conference semifinals yesterday, so the winner of today’s Florida Southern-Tampa final will likely host the regional tournament next weekend
With #3 North Alabama now having fallen in the GSC tourney, that spot should be wide open. #4 Benedict wiped out Clark Atlanta in the SIAC semis yesterday, 81-57, and they will face 7th-seeded Tuskegee in the SIAC finals this afternoon.
#5 Eckerd fell early in the SSC tournament, and CBU and Harding had the #6 and #7 spots, so both have plenty of room to possibly move up in the rankings with a win. Both teams look like safe bets to make the NCAAs regardless of today’s outcome, though.
With only one real upset possibility in today’s conference championships, the team with the most to gain is probably Ouachita Baptist, the current #8 team in the region. They could be overtaken by a team like Valdosta State, which defeated them and reached the GSC semis, but with very few upsets in the GSC and SSC tournaments, they could still make the regionals, as long as Benedict wins today.
The CSS broadcast is already underway, so I’ll head out for now, but I’ll be around to comment on the broadcast and the game itself this evening.