Jean-Baptiste's miracle buzzer-beater sends Chattanooga to March Madness

Chattanooga guard David Jean-Baptiste, right, is congratulated by teammates as he holds the championship trophy after his team defeated Furman in an NCAA college basketball championship game for the Southern Conference tournament. (Kathy Kmonicek/AP)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — David Jean-Baptiste dribbled into the front court and launched a long, game-winning 3—pointer over three defenders to lift Chattanooga to a 64-63 overtime win over Furman in the Southern Conference championship game Monday night, claiming the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Mike Bothwell put Furman in front, 63-61 with a layup with 4.3 seconds left. Chattanooga opted not to call a timeout and Jean-Baptiste took the inbounds pass, wove his way through defenders and across the mid-court line and launched a pull-up shot that ripped cleanly through the net.

Bothwell scored 11-straight points, including a step-back 3-pointer with four seconds left in regulation that forced the extra period and a three-point play to start overtime. His jumper with 2:30 left in extra time put the Paladins up, 56-53. Jean-Baptiste tied the game with a trey, but Alex Hunter put Furman back in front with an answering 3-pointer with 1:41 to go. Darius Banks drove for a contested layup for Chattanooga, but Furman’s Jalen Slawson was called for blocking and had to leave the game with a suspected head injury while Banks hit both free throws. Bothwell drove to the basket and dished to Garrett Hien for an open layup to put the Paladins up by three. A.J. Caldwell knocked down a 3 to get Chattanooga even at 61-61 with 27 seconds left before Bothwell scored his go-ahead layup.

Silvio De Sousa scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Chattanooga (27-7, 14-4). Jean-Baptiste hit three 3-pointers, two in overtime, to finish with 13 points and Malachi Smith added 12 points, eight boards and four assists.

Bothwell finished with 24 points to lead Furman (22-12, 12-6), with Hunter adding four 3-pointers and 12 points.

The Southern Conference has never sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament.

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