MONTEVALLO, Ala. – The 22nd-ranked and top seeded Falcons of the University of Montevallo trailed just once in the 2012 NCAA Southeast Regional Championship game as they coasted to a 86-73 victory over #14 Anderson University. With the win the Falcons advance to their third Elite Eight in school history and captured their third Region Championship. The Falcons will take on the winner of the Central Region, #13 Metropolitan State College.
UM was led by Tournament Most Outstanding Player, D.J. Rivera (Philadelphia, Pa./Binghamton University) who scored 19 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed six boards. With the 19 points, Rivera broke the UM single-season record for points in a season with 698 which broke the previous record held by Greg Brown (2005-2007) who scored 694 during the 2006-07 season. Junior Jonas Brown (Tifton, Ga./Tift County) chipped in 17 points while hitting five three-pointers.
All-Tournament team member Antoine Davis (Washington, D.C./College of the Desert) chipped in 12 points and eight assists while juniors Drico Hightower (Augusta, Ga./Angelina College) and Marvin Fitzgerald (Milwaukee, Wisc./North Carolina Central) each scored 10 points. Fitzgerald added a team-high seven rebounds while Hightower had five.
Anderson was led by All-Tournament player Denzail Jones who scored a game-high 26 points. Fellow All-Tournament team member Nick Trull added 12 points and Taylor Shugart had 10. Shugart led the Trojans in rebounds with seven.
UM shot 48.5 percent from the field including 35.0 percent from the three-point line. The Falcons nailed 15-of-20 from the free throw line. The Trojans shot 43.1 percent from the field including 36.8 percent from three-point range. AU hit 16-of-22 free throws.
The Falcons jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead by the Trojans responded with an 8-0 run to take their only lead of the game on a three-pointer by Tyrell McDowell. UM then went on a 12-0 run to take an 18-8 lead that was capped off by a dunk by Rivera. The lead would remain around the ten to eight-point mark most of the first half by with 6:34 to play and the Falcons up 33-22 the Trojans mounted a small 5-0 run to cut the lead to just six but once again the Falcons responded by closing out the half on a 11-3 run to go up, 44-30.
UM shot 54.3 percent from the field in the first half but hit just 1-of-8 from three-point range. They were a near-perfect 5-of-6 from the free throw line. The Trojans shot 36.7 percent from the field including 33.3 percent from three-point range. AU hit 5-of-8 from the free throw line.
The Falcons and Trojans traded baskets over the first five minutes of the second half but with 14:42 left and UM up by just 11, the Falcons began a 10-1 run that included a pair of threes by Brown. Just minutes later Brown and Rivera would combine to hit back-to-back-to-back three pointers to put the Falcons up by 24. With 3:18 left in the game and the Falcons up 80-62 the Trojans began to mount a comeback and went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to just eight with 1:50 left in the game,. A free throw by Rivera ended the drought and the Falcons hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to win, 86-73.