Falcons to play for national title

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Knights started the second half with a 10-4 run to take their largest lead in the game, 46-39.

Montevallo responded with an 8-0 run, capped with a breakaway dunk by Fitzgerald, to go ahead 47-46 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game.

Bellarmine knocked down a 3-pointer moments later to regain the lead, but the Falcons went on a scoring run midway through the second half to take the lead back.

A 9-1 spurt by Montevallo, capped with a free throw by Fitzgerald, gave the Falcons a 58-52 advantage with 10:35 remaining.

Bellarmine managed to cut the deficit to two points, 62-60, with 8:31 left, but Montevallo stretched its lead to eight points, 68-60, following a 6-0 run. Rivera capped the Falcons’ run with a fastbreak layup, which game Montevallo its largest lead in the game.

Another layup by Rivera moments later gave the Falcons a 70-60 lead, their first double-digit lead in the game. Both teams then went on a scoreless streak during the next two and half minutes before Hightower put the dagger in the Knights with his jumper with 1:40 remaining in the game.

Bellarmine went more than eight minutes without a point after cutting the deficit to two points with 8:31 left in the game, which secured the Falcons’ first trip to the national championship game.

The Knights finally caught fire from the perimeter and trimmed the decit to single digits in the final minute, but Bellarmine couldn’t overcome the double-digit deficit.

Montevallo is the first team from the state of Alabama to play in an NCAA men’s basketball championship game since Troy State played in the Division II national championship game in 1993. The appearance in the Division II men’s basketball championship game marks the school’s first appearance in a championship game in any sport.