LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — CJ Fleming scored a career-high 27 points, Dylan Penn added 22 and Division I newcomer Bellarmine beat Jacksonville 77-72 in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament Tuesday, handing the automatic offer to the NCAA Tournament to regular-season champion Jacksonville State.

The Knights, in the second of a four-year transition to D-1, became heroes in Jacksonville, Alabama. Top-seeded JSU fell 54-51 at home to the Dolphins on Saturday, but since Bellarmine is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, the Gamecocks will go dancing.

Bellarmine, a recent Division II powerhouse and 2011 champion, beat Liberty, the other ASUN Division champion, 53-50 on the road Saturday. Jacksonville, which joined ASUN in 1998, was seeking its first league championship and first NCAA spot in 36 years.

Bellarmine (20-13) made 11 of 12 free throws over the final two minutes with Fleming perfect on eight, to hold off Jacksonville, which had 5 of 8 field goals, including two 3s, down the stretch.

Jordan Davis scored 22 points for the Dolphins (21-10), who lost the only regular season meeting 76-73 in overtime at the same building, and Osayi Osifo and Tyreese Davis had 11 apiece.

Penn, Juston Betz and Curt Hopf hit 3 straight runs to give Bellarmine a 9-4 lead and Sam Devault added back-to-back triples as the Knights began to heat up. Penn’s layup midway through the first half made it 28-10 with the Knights going 10 of 14, seven from behind the arc.

Jacksonville fought back to move closer to 36-26 at halftime, despite going 0-of-10 from 3-point range to Bellarmine’s 9-of-16.

The Dolphins hit six 3s in the second half and shot 50% but could only come close to six.

The Knights finished shooting 50 percent overall and were 12 of 25 from 3-point range and 15 of 17 from the foul line.


More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © 2022 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located in the European Economic Area.