JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/10/2009 - The No. 6 ranked Union University Bulldogs posted a 105-78 victory over No. 13 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University to claim the TranSouth Conference Tournament Championship. The title for Union is their sixth TranSouth Championship in the 13-year history of the league. Union used a 57-point first half to take a 24-point halftime lead.
Union scored first on a three-pointer from senior guard and TranSouth Conference Player of the Year Matt Neaville. That proved to be a trend on the night as he posted 23 first-half points on his way to a game-high 35 points, including eight three pointers.
Union was never behind or tied in the contest, but held the slimmest of margins over the first five-plus minutes. With 14:16 remaining in the first half, Union led 16-15. Then, with the help of two more Neaville three pointers, Union posted a 22-4 run, including 11 straight points to jump out to a 38-19 lead. Over the final six-plus minutes of the half, Union stretched their lead to 24 points, 57-33 at the break.
Union shot 55-percent in the first, including 45-percent (9-20) from behind the arc in the first half. Freed-Hardeman managed just 40-percent from the field, and just 2-of-13 from behind the arc (15%) in the first 20 minutes.
Just as the game started, so did the second half. Union's Neaville opened play with another three-pointer, just 15 seconds into play. Union opened the half with a 14-4 run to stretch their lead to the biggest of the game at 34 points, 71-37 with 16:14 left in the game. Union maintained a comfortable lead in the high 20's to low 30's for the next eight minutes. And with 9:09 left in the game, Union led by 31 points, 83-52. The Lions slowed chipped away over the next six minutes as they cut the Union lead to 20 points, 93-73, with 3:34 left. However, Union was just too strong, and they made free throws down the stretch pushing the lead back to 27 points for the 105-78 final.
Union was led by Neaville's 35 points. Neaville averaged 26 points per game in the three tournament games, including 36 and 35 point nights. Greg Truvillion scored 23 points in the game. Brian Lake added a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Martez Hawkins added 10 points. Union shot 46-percent from the field, 37-percent (13-35) from behind the arc, and 72-percent (28-39) from the charity stripe.
Freed-Hardeman was led by Zach Frey with 17 points. Kristoffer Smith scored 15 points, while Cedric Austin and Shun Truvillian added 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Lions shot 44-percent from the field, including 25-percent (6-24) from behind the arc, and 50-percent (10-20) from the free throw line.
Union, now 6-2 in TranSouth Tournament title games, improved to 28-5 on the season. The Freed-Hardeman Lions dropped to 24-9 on the season. Union earns the TranSouth's automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. on March 18-24. The Lions are expected to receive one of the at-large bids to nationals.
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