Conference championships roundup: James Madison wins Sun Belt


Xavier Brown scored all 21 of his points in the first half and second-seeded James Madison trounced fourth-seeded Arkansas State 91-71 to win the Sun Belt championship on Monday in Pensacola, Fla.

Brown — who entered the day averaging 6.1 points — scored 13 in a row on his way to a career-high total. Brown added 10 rebounds for the Dukes (31-3), who are going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.

Terrence Edwards Jr. scored 19 points, Jaylen Carey had 13 and Noah Freidel had 12 for James Madison, which opened its season with a bang by upsetting Michigan State. The Dukes led 42-32 at halftime Monday before expanding their lead to as many as 29 points.

Freddy Hicks paced all scorers with 24 points and Izaiyah Nelson had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Arkansas State (18-16), which had upset top-seeded Appalachian State in Sunday’s semifinal round.

Samford 76, East Tennessee State 69

Achor Achor tallied 25 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots, Jermaine Marshall added 23 points and eight rebounds and the top-seeded Bulldogs defeated the seventh-seeded Buccaneers in the Southern Conference title game in Asheville, N.C.

The Buccaneers twice got within one point of Samford’s lead before the Bulldogs closed the game on an 11-5 run, featuring five points from Marshall. Samford’s only previous NCAA Tournament berths before this year came in 1999 and 2000.

Ebby Asamoah’s 18 points and Quimari Peterson’s 17 powered ETSU’s (19-16) upset bid, which fell short despite a 41-32 advantage over Samford (29-5) on the boards.