Falcons to play for national title

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

D.J. Rivera, a transfer from Division I Binghamton University, led the Falcons with a game-high 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the floor. Rivera also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double.

Despite draining 11 field goals, Rivera finished 0-of-5 from the charity stripe. Rivera said he plans to work on his free-throw shooting before the title game.

“I’ll make them on Saturday in the championship game,” Rivera said.

Starter Drico Hightower and reserve Jonas Brown, who knocked down 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc, added 13 points each. Antoine Davis chipped in 12 points.

Marvin Fitzgerald contributed nine points. DeMarcus Catchings added six points and Ryan May finished with three points in the victory.

Montevallo took an early lead following a 3-pointer from the wing by Rivera on the opening possession of the game.

May added a 3-pointer with 16:19 remaining in the first half, but the perimeter shots by Rivera and May, combined with a free throw by Hightower, accounted for the Falcons’ only points in the first seven minutes.

Bellarmine took control early on and jumped out to a 13-7 lead, which marked the Knights’ largest lead in the opening half.

Montevallo went on an 8-0 run, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers by Brown, midway through the first half to temporarily take a 21-19 lead following the junior guard’s second long-range basket with 7:30 left in the opening half.

Bellarmine retook the lead and stretched it to as many as six points, 31-25, in the late stages of the opening half. The Falcons closed the first half with a quick 4-0 spurt following a pair of layups by Hightower to cut the deficit to 36-35 heading into the locker room at halftime.