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By Carl Lut Williams
Black College Sports Page

ROCK HILL, SC – Top West Division seed Miles made all the key plays down the stretch to emerge from a gritty, hard-fought defensive struggle with a 69-56 win over East Division top seed Albany State in the Men’s SIAC Tournament Championship game here at the Sports and Events Center Saturday evening.MilesWIns2020Victorious head coach Fred Watson (standing rear, 2nd from l.) and his Miles Golden Bears celebrate after defeated Albany State 69-56 for the SIAC Tournament title

The tournament title is the second straight for Miles and head coach Fred Watson since he left fellow-SIAC member Benedict to lead the Golden Bears. The win also avenges a 64-62 loss at home to Albany State on Jan. 8. Miles ran off 13 straight wins before losing the regular season finale to LeMoyne-Owen.

The battle went the way of Miles (24-4) despite a sluggish start that saw Albany State (17-14) score the game’s first ten points and jump out to a 29-13 lead with 5:07 left in the first half. To that point, ASU had shot 72% from the field.

But Miles closed the half on a 13-1 run to get within 30-26 at the break.

The Golden Bears pulled even for the first time at 32 when league Player of the Year Avery Brown canned a jumper with 17:22 to play and took their first lead at 33-32 when he converted one of two free throws a minute later.

They methodically took control with deft execution and stifling defense from there, outscoring Albany State 43-26 and shooting a sizzling 66.7% (10 of 15) from the floor in the second half.

Jelani Watson-Gayle, who had a personal 7-0 run to get the Bears back in it in the first half, led Miles with 22 points. Brown added 18 points while Frank Royles had 14.

Albany State got 15 points each from Napoleon Harris and Kamil Brown. Randy McClure added 10 points.

Miles will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Div. II national tournament when the 64-team field is announced on Sunday, March 8.


ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM
Kamil Brown, Albany State
Napoleon Harris, Albany State
Jelani Watson-Gayle, Miles (MVP)
Avery Brown, Miles

TOP TOURNAMENT COACH
Fred Watson, Miles

 

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