Milligan U season ends in the opening round of the AAC Tournament

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

By Ron marvel
Star Correspondent
Milligan saw the book close on its 2023 season as they fell to the Truett McConnell Bears 81-69 in the opening round of the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament at the Meadowview Convention Center in Kingsport. Both teams would start slowly offensively; Buff Sam Gold hit a three-pointer at the 12:42 mark of the first period to knot the score at eight. Milligan would then push a lead to five at 15-10 after a Gabriel Jackson three. Milligan would continue to build its lead, making it 24-13 at the eight-minute mark after a Finn McClure three and 30-19 after two free throws by Dylan Bartley. But a lack of ball security by the Buffs would allow the Bears to close the double-digit to three points with just two minutes left before the break. The Bears would tie the game at 33-33 with just :54 seconds left before a free throw by Dylan Bartley would give the lead back to the Buffs. The bears would get a back door layup before the buzzer to go into the locker room up 35-34.
The two teams would go back and forth, with each team holding short leads. Milligan would grab a one-point lead, 45-44, at the 16:12 mark after a Sami Sanad floater, only for the Bears to hit a couple of free throws to retake the lead, 44-43. Milligan would benefit from a Sami Sanad highlight as the Senior from Italy would send the ball down with a thunderous dunk and give Milligan back the one-point lead. Truett McConnell would take a five-point lead at 49-44 at the 12-minute mark, only to see Milligan scrap to cut the lead to 52-50 at the 10:31 mark, but the Bears would go on a 9-2 run to push their lead to 59-50. Milligan would make a run of their own to cut the Bears lead down to 61-57 with 5:44 left, but the Bears would push the lead back to nine at 66-57 with a little over four minutes left. Piripi Korent would cut the lead down to five with just 2:45 left with a three-pointer, but the Bears would respond with a late three-point play of their own and then hit its final six free-throws down the stretch to ice the game.
Milligan would suffer from 18 turnovers on the day and lose the battle of the boards 40-29. Sami Sanad would finish with 14 points on the day to lead Buffalo scorers, while Piripi Korent would finish with 12. Milligan would finish the season with a 12-16 record which would be twice its number of wins from last season.

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