HARROGATE, Tenn. – Seventh-ranked Queens scored 34 points in the paint and held the 24th-ranked UNC Pembroke men's basketball team to just 34.4 percent shooting as the Royals advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Southeast Regional with a 75-63 win over the Braves on Sunday evening.
The setback snapped the lid on an historic season for the Black & Gold (27-6) who matched a program record with 27 wins, while also grabbing its second-straight Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Royals (30-3) advance to Tuesday evening's regional championship game where they will face the winner of Sunday's other semifinal matchup between top-ranked Lincoln Memorial and fifth-seeded Clayton State.
"Queens earned the right to keep playing. They are an excellent defensive team," said UNCP head coach Ben Miller. "I told the guys that you never have the right words, especially for those seniors that don't get to keep playing, but this is the most fun I have ever had with a team. We can celebrate the season that we had this year."
Senior Brandon Watts canned four 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 22 points for the Braves, while David Strother and Nigel Grant both turned in 10 points apiece. Queens got 18 points from both Jalin Alexander and Mike Davis, while Todd Withers registered a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
UNCP was hindered throughout the contest by long field goal droughts, including a 12-minute stretch in the first half that saw them shoot just 3-for-18 (.167) from the field, as well as a 3-1/2 minute span in the second half that saw the Braves miss nine of their 10 field goal attempts.
Trailing by five points at the half, the Black & Gold scored four quick points to make it a one-point game just 90 seconds into the second stanza, but the Royals answered with a 12-3 run to put Queens up by double digits just less than four minutes later. The Royals led by as many as 14 points after a pair of free throws from Davis with 14 seconds left.
The teams combined for 23 turnovers and just 34.5 percent shooting in the opening half, but Queens led for the final 16-1/2 minutes of the stanza and eventually took a 30-25 advantage into the locker rooms. The Royals led by as many as 10 points on a pair of occasions, but UNCP scored seven of the final nine points of the period to climb back into the game.
- The Braves matched the 1990-91 squad with a program-best 27 victories, but finished percentage points behind that club for the best record in school history. The 1990-91 squad (27-5) registered a .844 winning percentage, while this year's club wrapped up their season with a .818 winning clip.
- UNCP's Class of 2018 – Nigel Grant, Bryson Hall, Brandon Watts and Desmond Williams – finished out their careers with a 92-33 (.736) record – the most wins and best winning percentage for any senior class in the history of the program. Their run includes three NCAA Tournament berths, two Peach Belt Conference regular season titles, two PBC Tournament crowns and a PBC East Division championship.
- Watts wrapped up his collegiate career with 1,715 points – the third-most points for any player in the history of the program. Watts' point total is also the ninth-highest in the history of the Peach Belt Conference as well.
- Grant finishes his two-year career in Pembroke with 994 career points, including a 527-point output this season. That is the most points in a single season by a UNCP player since all-American Rosendo Bryden registered 616 during the 1995-96 campaign.