CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)Drew Pember had 29 points, Tajion Jones scored 16 in the final 7:35 and No. 1 seed UNC Asheville stormed back to beat seventh-seeded Campbell 77-73 on Sunday, winning the Big South Conference Tournament championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time.
Ricky Clemons hit a jumper to give Campbell a 66-52 lead and then Jones took over. The senior guard scored 10 straight points for the Bulldogs (27-7) after Pember made two free throws to cut their deficit to 68-64 with 3:41 to go. Clemons and Jones traded 3-pointers and Pember followed with a three-point play to get UNC Asheville within 71-70.
Clemons hit a jumper with 1:44 to play but the Fighting Camels would not score again. Pember, who has attempted and made more free throws than anyone else in the country, sank a pair. Clemons was fouled but missed both free throws and Jones buried a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs on top 75-73 with 55 seconds left. The last time UNC Asheville had the lead the score was 13-11.
Pember, the Big South’s player of the year, hit 9 of 19 shots but just 1 of 6 from 3-point range. He made 10 of 12 foul shots. Jones sank 9 of 14 shots, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. They each grabbed eight rebounds. Fletcher Abee hit three from distance and scored 11.
Jay Pal scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Fighting Camels. The senior made 11 of 18 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. He added four assists and blocked two shots. Big South freshman of the year Anthony Dell’Orso scored 12 points – just two after halftime – and snagged seven rebounds. Clemons, a former walk-on now a senior, hit two 3-pointers and scored 17 before fouling out.
Pal had 16 points and eight rebounds by halftime to guide Campbell to a 38-35 lead at intermission.
The Fighting Camels (16-18) made their only trip to the Big Dance in 1992, losing to eventual champion Duke in the first round 82-56. Campbell is the sixth No. 7 seed to advance to the Big South title game. All six lost to the top seed.
UNC Asheville sports a 2-4 record in its four previous NCAA tourney appearances.
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