by RENALDO DORSETT
A week before “Selection Sunday” Tristian Curtis became the first Bahamian to earn a berth to the 2015 NCAA Division I men’s Basketball Tournament.
Curtis and his Coastal Carolina Chanticleers received an automatic bid to the tournament when they defeated the Winthrop Eagles, 81-70, in the Big South Conference championship game.
Despite not attempting a shot from the field, Curtis grabbed a game high 14 rebounds as the Chanticleers pulled away in the second half.
Tied at the half at 38, Coastal Carolina opened the second half on a 7-0 run and eventually
The Chanticleers have earned back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths for the first time in school history.
On the season, Curtis, the junior forward, finished averaging 4.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and shot 54 percent from the field.
Since the Coastal Carolina coaching staff made the move to shift Curtis to the starting lineup, the level of productivity increased for the Bahamian native and wins have increased for the Chanticleers.
In an interview with Ryan Young of the Sun News, Curtis said he looked to take advantage of this opportunity after his first two seasons where he played sparingly and averaged 2.4 points and three rebounds per game.
“It’s just a blessing from God, that’s what I believe,” Curtis said, “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of patience over my last two years, and finally my hard work comes to fruition so I’m just real thankful to God and thankful to the coaches for believing in me.”
The Chanticleers come into the East Region as the No.16 seed and will face the No.1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers, March 21 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
When they defeated the Eagles in the 2014 Big South title game, it broke a 21 year NCAA Tournament drought for the programme .
They entered the East Region as a no. 16 seed and seemed poised to pull off a historic upset before the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers pulled away.
The Cavaliers faced a 10-point deficit in the first half and trailed 35-30 at the half before they pulled ahead for good with about nine minutes left to play.
The regional seeding and match ups will be decided Sunday March 15 as teams learn their fate for the 68-field team tournament, commonly referred to as “March Madness.”