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UNC-Asheville tops Coastal Carolina for Big South title

Mar 6, 2011 - 12:48 AM Conway, SC (Sports Network) - The first ticket to the "Big Dance" has been punched.

Chris Stephenson scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help UNC- Asheville clinch the Big South title with a 60-47 victory over Coastal Carolina.

Jaron Lane had 13 points and Matt Dickey added 12 for the third-seeded Bulldogs (19-13), who are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. UNC-Asheville scored 29 points off 21 Coastal Carolina turnovers.

Chad Gray finished with 13 points and nine boards for the Chanticleers (28-5), who lost in the conference championship game as the top seed for the second consecutive year.

Coastal Carolina, which never led in the game, fell behind 19-8 on J.P. Primm's three-pointer.

The Chanticleers trailed 29-22 at halftime and managed to close the gap to 39-37 when Anthony Raffa knocked down a trey with about 11 1/2 minutes remaining.

It remained a two-possession game until Dickey drained his lone three-pointer to put UNC-Asheville up 54-47 with 1:38 left.

Danny Nieman couldn't hit from beyond the arc on Coastal Carolina's next possession, then Lane followed up a Stephenson miss with a thunderous dunk to seal the Bulldogs' third Big South crown.

Game Notes

Dickey was named the tournament MVP...John Williams posted 10 points and nine rebounds for UNC-Asheville...Raffa and Sam McLaurin both netted 12 points in the loss...UNC-Asheville improved to 3-4 in the Big South title game, while the Chanticleers have lost their last three appearances since capturing their third championship in 1993.