Falcons advance to Elite Eight

University of Montevallo freshman guard Ryan May cuts off a piece of the net following the Falcons' 86-73 win over Anderson University in the NCAA Division II Southeast Region tournament championship game March 13 at Bank Trust Arena. (Contributed/Michael Wade)

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

MONTEVALLO — University of Montevallo senior guard D.J. Rivera isn’t lacking confidence and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

The combination of those two character traits paid off for the Falcons this season, with the NCAA Division I transfer from Binghamton University dominating his adversaries in Division II.

Rivera capped his final season of collegiate eligibility by becoming the school’s single-season scoring leader and leading Montevallo to its third berth in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight following the Falcons’ 86-73 win over Anderson University in the Southeast Region championship game March 13 at Bank Trust Arena.

“I feel records are made to be broken,” Rivera said. “I feel like all of my hard work has paid off.”

Rivera, who was selected as a first team All-Peach Belt Conference pick, was named the Southeast Region tournament’s most valuable player, but it mattered little to the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Philadelphia, Pa., native.

Rivera, who was snubbed as the America East Conference Player of the Year despite being widely regarded as the best player in the Division I conference two seasons ago at Binghamton, isn’t concerned about individual awards with a trip to the Elite Eight at The Bank of Kentucky Center in Highland Heights, Ky. awaiting him and his teammates.

“I can’t wait to get to Kentucky,” said Rivera, who surpassed previous single-season scoring leader Greg Brown. “I don’t really care about individual awards right now. I just want to keep winning games.”

The Falcons will meet Metropolitan State College of Denver, Colo., the winner of the Central Region tournament, in the quarterfinals March 21 at 7:30 p.m.