NCAA Bound! Men's basketball clinches bid in first NCAA tournament

NCAA Bound!  Men's basketball clinches bid in first NCAA tournament

GREENVILLE, Ill. -- The men's basketball team is headed to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in program history after a 126-119 win over Blackburn in the SLIAC championship game.

Blackburn grabbed a 17-8 lead to open the game up, but Greenville responded with an 18-2 run to take the lead, one they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.

The Panthers took a 69-52 lead into halftime, using nine three-point field goals to do their damage.

The first minute of the second-half encapsulated the game as Blackburn committed a turnover on the opening possession and Greenville prompltly knocked down a triple on the other end.

Greenville held a double digit lead for nearly 25 minutes during the game until Blackburn mounted a final come back attempt.

Down by as many as 24 points, Blackburn worked the lead down to four points with 4:07 remaining in the game after a pair of Malcolm Scott free-throws to make the score 110-106.

After a defensive stop the Beavers had the ball once again to get closer but the high-pressure Panther defense forced a turnover along the sidelines, leading to a 9-0 Panther run started by a three-pointer from guard Johari Dix. Fittingly Dix would put the final Panther points on the board with a pair of free-throws that would extend his teams lead. 

Dix netted a game high 26 points, adding eight assists, and was named the SLIAC Tournament MVP.

Adam Warren added 23 points and 16 rebounds to earn All-Tournament honors for Greenville as well.

Greenville knocked down 17 three-pointers in the game while shooting 48-percent from the field.

The Panthers (19-8) will enter the NCAA tournament.  They will learn their destination on Monday at 11:30 a.m.