BRISTOL, Tenn. - A career-high 27 points from Kearney Demus led No. 5 seed Union College to a 64-55 win over No. 5 seed Bryan (Tenn.) College Thursday in the Appalachian Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal round.
The win sends Union, now at 15-14 overall, into an AAC semifinal contest with No. 8 and top-seeded Bluefield (Va.) College Friday at 6 p.m. Bluefield needed to rally in order to beat ninth-seeded Virginia Intermont College 98-92 earlier in the day. Union will look to do what no other AAC team has done this season, knock off Bluefield. The Rams enter the game with seven straight wins over Union including a 100-82 game that ended the Bulldogs' 2007-08 season.
Demus, a Lexington, Ky. native scored all his points off the bench. He went 10-for-12 from the field including two 3-pointers. However Demus was 5-for-11 at the free-throw line. His previous career high of 22 points came against Brescia (Ky.) University in November.
Union took a 32-31 lead after Demus scored and the Bulldogs never looked back. The Bulldogs eventually built a 14-point advantage only to see the Lions claw back down the stretch. Bryan made it a three-point game late, but Union responded for the win.
The Bulldogs improved to 15-14 on the season while Bryan's season ends at 13-16.
Like in the first two meetings of the season, Union fell behind early as the Lions jumped in front 11-2 in the first four minutes.
A Brett Miller (Carrolton, Ky.) field goal capped Union's 9-2 run over the next two minutes. Demus collected five of Union's points during the spurt.
Union battled back to tie the game at 19 apiece with 9:13 showing on the clock. From there Bryan reeled off seven-straight points to gain control.
The Bulldogs notched the final four points of the half to make the score 31-28 at halftime.
To go along with Demus' 27 points, James Johnson (Lexington, Ky.) added nine points.
Michael Hester (Independence, Ky.) scored five points to go with his five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Union's leading rebounder was guard Antiono Murry (Antioch, Tenn.) with seven to match his season high. Beau Brown might have only scored seven points, but he contributed four rebounds and recorded five steals.
Union is 3-1 against Bryan in tournament play and owns a 15-3 record against Bryan since the 2002-03 season.
Bryan had three players with double-digit scoring efforts, led by Lamarr Shorts with a dozen. Scott Newton and Andrew Slikker scored 11 and 10 respectively.
The Lions made one more field goal than Union, 22-21, but the Bulldogs owned the free-throw line. Union went 19-for-31 and Bryan was 8-for-11. Both teams sunk three 3-pointers.
- For the third time this season Union trailed by three at halftime which is the smallest half-time deficit of the season. In all three games, Union has rallied to win.
- Union improved to 6-7 when scoring fewer than 70 points.
- The 27 points from Demus is the first time a Union player scored more than 20 points since Brown's 20 at Covenant (Ga.) College, 12 games ago.
- The Bulldogs did not record a block for the eighth time this season.
- The win was only the fifth of the season when trailing at halftime.