GREENWOOD, S.C. — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke men’s basketball team used a big second half to claim an 89-77 win over Columbus State on Sunday, earning its first Peach Belt Conference tournament championship in program history.
Brandon Watts scored 14 of his team-best 18 points in the second half to lead five Braves in double figures. UNCP (24-7) finished the game with an 18-7 run, outscoring the Cougars 48-31 in the second half.
Watts earned all-tournament honors, with Akia Pruitt finishing as the tournament MVP with a 15-point, 9-rebound performance in the title game.
Despite dealing with foul trouble throughout the afternoon, Pruitt and Nigel Grant helped UNCP to a 46-32 advantage in points in the paint. Grant scored 13 points, with James Murray-Boyles adding 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Columbus State shot a blistering 63 percent from the field in the first half to carry a 46-41 lead into the break. The Braves buckled down defensively in the second half, limiting the Cougars to 35 percent shooting.
UNCP earned the No. 3 seed in the Southeast Region of the NCAA Division II Tournament and will play No. 6 Limeston (26-5) on Saturday, March 11 in the first round. UNCP is favored to win 75 percent to 25 percent, according to the poll on NCAA.com.