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Big South Tournament: Gardner-Webb wins championship for first NCAA Tournament bid

The Runnin’ Bulldogs are going to the dance.

NCAA Basketball: Gardner-Webb at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in school history, Gardner-Webb is going to the NCAA Tournament. The Runnin’ Bulldogs capped off a great run through the Big South Tournament with a 76-65 win over No. 2 seed Radford to seal their trip to the dance.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs benefited from a monstrous performance from senior DJ Laster. The forward poured in 32 points on an absurdly efficient 14-of-17 showing from the field. David Efianayi had 15 points that included a perfect 8-of-8 showing from the free throw line, and Gardner-Webb shot over 50 percent from the floor as a team.

Defensively, Gardner-Webb held Radford to just 41 (28-of-68) percent from the field and 7-of-23 from behind the arc. Donald Hicks led the Highlanders with 17 points.

The win caps off a tournament run that included two roads win over the top two seeds, including Friday’s win over No. 1 seed Campbell and Chris Clemons. At 23 wins, the Runnin’ Bulldgos are in the midst of their best season since making the transition to Division I in 2002.

With their trip to the NCAA Tournament, Gardner-Webb will become the fifth different school to earn the conference’s bid in the last five years.