BARBOURVILLE, Ky. --
Union's Ian Davis
notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way, as the fourth-seeded Bulldogs used a second-half comeback to upend five-seed Bluefield, 79-71 in first round action of the 2011 Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament Wednesday night at Robsion Arena.
With the victory, Union improved to 14-15 overall on the year, knocked off Bluefield for the first time since Jan. 28, 2006, and earned a date with Milligan in Saturday afternoon's semifinal round. With the loss, Bluefield ends their 2010-11 campaign with an 11-18.
In the first half, Bluefield came out strong, opening a seven-point lead in the first five minutes (12-5), eventually extending it out to 13 (28-15) with 8:06 left. Union made a run at the Bluefield lead over the next six minutes, cutting the deficit all the way down to three (32-29) with 2:05 left. Late in the period, Brent Cork
(Saginaw, Mich.) nailed two free throws and after a defensive stop, Bluefield took a slim 35-33 lead going into the locker room at intermission.
To start the second half, Union tied the game up at 35-all in the first 20 seconds of regulation, but Bluefield once again went on an early half run, eventually opening a 11-point lead at 53-42 with 12:15 to play. As the game went under the 10-minute mark, Bluefield remained in the lead by double-digits at 59-49.
It was here that the Bulldogs began their comeback, gradually chipping away at the lead over the next three minutes. A Turrell Morris
(Columbus, Ohio) lay-in with 6:28 left cut the deficit down to 61-60, then after a steal moments later, he gave the Bulldogs their first lead since the game's onset at 62-61 with another lay-in.
After Bluefield made two free throws to take the lead back at 63-62, Stuart Stamper
(Hindman, Ky.) knocked down crucial back-to-back three pointers to give the Bulldogs a 68-63 lead with 3:46 left. After Bluefield responded with a three of their own to make it 68-66, Ryan Young
(Waynesburg, Ky.) knocked down consecutive jumpers to give Union a 72-66 lead with a minute left. The lead was too much for Bluefield to come back from, as the Bulldogs iced the game at the free throw line over the final minute to earn the victory.
Overall, Davis (Cherry Hill, N.J.) led the Bulldog charge, recording his 17 points on 2-of-3 shooting from three point range and 7-of-9 shooting from the free throw line. Davis was one of four Union scorers to record double-digit scoring nights. Stamper ended with 16 points, shooting 4-of-8 from outside the arc, while Young ended with 13 points. Morris rounded out the double-digit scorers for Union with 12 points, while pulling down a game-high 17 rebounds to notch his 14th double-double of the season.
Bluefield was led in a losing effort by Byron Carpenter, who scored a game-high 21 points.
Union now moves on to the semifinals of the 2011 AAC Tournament, where they will travel to Milligan on Saturday afternoon to take on the top-seeded Buffaloes. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. In the other semifinal, third-seed Reinhardt will take on seventh-seed Tennessee Wesleyan at 2 p.m.