KINGSPORT — Milligan knocked off one top seed, but fell to another in the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament.
Kayla Kelly scored 20 points and the fourth-seeded Lady Buffs defeated No. 1 Tennessee Wesleyan 61-55 in the semifinals of the AAC tournament at MeadowView Convention Center. Milligan’s men rallied from a 20-point deficit but ran out of gas against top-seeded Union, losing 92-87.
The win puts the Lady Buffs in today’s championship game. They face the winner of Friday night’s other semifinal between Union and Bryan. Milligan’s men finished the year at 18-10 and 11-7 in the AAC.
The Lady Buffs built an 18-point halftime lead, but it took free throws and a bucket by Kelly to secure the win. Kelly’s five-foot jumper with 1:25 left in a 55-51 game ended Wesleyan’s comeback that included a 28-9 run in all but the final three minutes of the second half.
“The second half was nothing but will,” Milligan coach Rich Aubrey said. “It was one of those deals where we made enough shots and we made enough plays just to hang on.”
Wesleyan cut it to four with 20 seconds left and got the ball back on a turnover, but missed on the possession. Milligan’s Robyn Anthony sealed it with two free throws at the other end. Milligan went 4-for-6 from the foul line in the final minute. Both misses came on the front of a 1-and-1.
The Lady Buffs built their first-half lead thanks to eight 3-point baskets. Allison Jones had three and 11 points at the break, while Kelly didn’t miss from the floor in the first half, going 6-for-6, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
Hayley Wyrick finished with 13 points and Jones had 12. Chelsey Weddle held AAC player of the year Armeka Booker to 6-of-17 from the field. Anthony had seven points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block.
Wesleyan got double-doubles from Booker (16 points, 14 rebounds) and Cody Houck (15 points, 12 rebounds). The Bulldogs finished the year at 24-4 and 18-2.
In the men’s game, Milligan trailed by seven at halftime, before watching the Bulldogs put together a 28-13 run to go up 62-40. Mike Woods Jr. hit a pair of 3-pointers and the Buffs used a 30-14 run capped by Kurt Brooks’ 3-ponter from the left wing to get back in the game.
Union led 76-72 with 3:42 left, but the Bulldogs pushed the lead back to double figures over the next minute. Woods Jr. and Corey Hendren both made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to cut it back to four, and Hendren had an offensive put-back that cut it to three their next trip down the floor, but a pair of free throws put Union back up by five with 7.1 seconds left.
Milligan left 21 points at the foul line, shooting 25-for-46. The Buffs missed 14 in the second half, but still outscored Union 60-58 in the period.
Cartree Pettis led Milligan with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Morgan McLeod finished with 12 points and seven boards, while Torian Sitton and Woods Jr. scored 11 apiece.
Mickey Woods was held to eight points, going 2-of-11. The junior’s career total is 991.
Union, which improved to 27-4 and faces Virginia Intermont in today’s title game, got 26 points from DeAntray Stevens, who shot 6-for-10, including 3-for-6 from the 3-point range, and added 11 points at the line. Deante Johnson and Tarik Smith came off the bench to add 21 and 19 points, respectively.
Today’s women’s championship is at 4 p.m. The men’s title game begins at 2 p.m.comments powered by Disqus