North Alabama defeats Florida Gulf Coast 96-81


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)Payton Youngblood scored a career-high 26 points as North Alabama beat Florida Gulf Coast 96-81 in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tourney semifinals on Friday night. Mervin James added 20 points for the Lions.

The Lions advanced to the championship to face Liberty, which will get the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament regardless of the outcome. North Alabama is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament while it is in its four-year Division I transition.

Youngblood made 5 of 7 3-pointers. He added three blocks.

Jamari Blackmon had 16 points and six assists for North Alabama (13-10). C.J. Brim added 11 points.

Jalen Warren had 19 points for the Eagles (10-8). Eli Abaev added 17 points and seven rebounds. Caleb Catto had 16 points.

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