HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Deric Hill had 16 points and Malik Smith scored 14, including two late free throws, as Florida International upset top-seeded Middle Tennessee 61-57 in the Sun Belt Conference tournament semifinals Sunday night.
FIU led 33-24 at halftime and maintained the lead, though it was down to two points twice in the final seconds. Hill's layup with 12 seconds left and Smith's free throws with 7 seconds to go clinched it for the fourth-seeded Golden Panthers (18-13), who will play Arkansas State or Western Kentucky in Monday's championship game.
Middle Tennessee (28-5) saw the nation's longest winning streak end at 17 games. The Blue Raiders, Sun Belt regular-season champions with a 19-1 record, will wait for a possible NCAA tournament at-large bid. They last qualified in 1989.
Cameron Bell scored 15 for FIU. Shawn Jones scored 17 to lead the Blue Raiders and Marcos Knight had 13 points and 11 rebounds.