Atlantic Sun Championship: Belmont Tops Florida Gulf Coast, 83-69, For NCAA Tournament Berth

Mar 3, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Belmont Bruins guard Kerron Johnson (3) drives to the basket against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first half of the Atlantic Sun tournament at the University Center. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

The Belmont Bruins withstood an upset bid from Florida Gulf Coast and claimed the Atlantic Sun's automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

The Belmont Bruins got a scare from Florida Gulf Coast in the Atlantic Sun Championship, but prevailed, 83-69, to clinch the conference's automatic berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Four starters and five players scored in double figures for the Bruins, who trailed 42-39 at halftime. Ian Clark had 16 points to lead Belmont, Blake Jenkins had 15 points, and Mick Hedgepeth and Kerron Johnson each had 14 points. The Bruins also used a size advantage to bully the Eagles on the boards, pulling down 42 rebounds to Florida Gulf Coast's 30.

The Eagles, eligible for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2012 after reclassifying to become a Division I team, couldn't make good on what appeared to be a great chance at a shocking upset. Brett Comer had 20 points to lead FGCU, but the other four starters for the Eagles had just 23 points combined, and Filip Cvjeticanin and Kevin Cantinol each contributing 13 points off the bench was not enough to down the Bruins.

For more on the 2012 conference tournament schedule, visit SB Nation's NCAA basketball hub.

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