It is official folks, the UC Bearcats are not only your regular reason AAC champs – they are also your AAC Tournament champs!  Back-to-back 30 wins season for the first time in program history and UC is not done yet.  Gary Clark is going to need to rent a storage unit if he collects any more trophies and hardware this post-season.  What a way to go out for the senior leader, earning AAC Tournament MVP.

Following a 10-point win over SMU, the Bearcats struggled again during the first half against a red-hot Memphis squad.  Down 13 at the half, UC battled back shooting nearly 80% from the field in the second half.  Playing great UC defense and rebounding, the Cats created a 23-point swing to beat Memphis, 70-60.

Jacob Evans struggled again, going 3-13 for 7 points and 7 rebounds.  Mr. Consistency, Gary Clark, once again went for 17 and 12 and added 3 blocks and 3 assists.  Cumberland led all scorers with 18, and Kyle Washington added 11 points.

This all led to today’s AAC Tournament finale, pitting UC against the Houston Cougars.  UH has come a long way under head coach Kelvin Sampson.  Houston is now a force to be reckoned with, having beat Wichita State in the semifinals.  Coach Sampson has now led four different teams to the NCAA Tournament.

Led by senior guard / samurai / man bun aficionado, #32 Rob Gray, Houston can play scrappy defense and can shoot the ball quite well.  Down again at the half 37-35, UC clawed their way back, to earn a 1-point victory, 56-55 in Orlando.

Lady Luck definitely was UC’s side today.  In the second half – again – UC dominated, holding Houston to 18 points on 20% shooting.  Still, Houston had 2 separate opportunities to win in the final seconds.  UC’s seasoned defense held strong and Houston imploded.

Jacob Evans again had a tough outing, injuring a finger and nursing his right knee.  Going 5-17 for 12 points and 6 boards.  Clark went off for 20 points and 12 rebounds.  Only one player from the bench, Broome, added just 4 points.  This was a very scrappy UC win premised purely on defense and grit – quintessential Cronin basketball.

What a special year for a special team.

Time for the Madness to begin.

By Andy Smith

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