VALDOSTA -- With its wars vs. Valdosta State over, Montevallo has something else to deal with this men's basketball season.


The Falcons (23-9) continued to make history Sunday night, defeating Henderson State, 78-57, in a NCAA Division II men's basketball South Region semifinal at The Complex.

Eighth-seeded Montevallo will play second-seeded Rollins, a 77-54 winner over Eckerd earlier Sunday night, in the region final at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The winner advances to the Elite Eight next week in Bakersfield, Calif.

The Falcons used two first-half runs to overcome an early 10-5 deficit, taking command with a 46-29 halftime lead.

The lead grew to 28 (63-35) midway in the second half, giving Montevallo its sixth-straight win. The 23 wins ties the school record for wins.

"They just came out again and played their hearts out," said Montevallo coach Danny Young. "We got after them defensively.

"We got a lot of looks. D.J. Towns had a lot of open looks."

Down 10-5, Montevallo scored 19 of the next 23 points. Guard D.J. Towns (24 points) had 11 of the points, including three 3-pointers.

"It felt great to be loose," said Towns. "Last night was a battle. Tonight they weren't as physical."

Towns was held scoreless in Saturday night's 56-49 win over Valdosta State.

"Last night I was getting a lot of phone calls from home. My friends were calling me, asking me what was up," Towns said. "I couldn't come back home with an egg like that.

"I just wanted to get to the goal and score two."

And with the lead down to nine (33-24, 5:24 left in the half), Montevallo got 13 of the next 15 points (five by Marcus Kennedy). Minus a late Henderson State 3-pointer, Montevallo settled for a 17-point (46-29) halftime lead.

"Coach said I needed to take it in more, instead of settling for the jump shot," said Kennedy, who finished with 19 points and three rebounds. "I tried to incorporate that into my game and it worked out well."

Montevallo, which joined the Gulf South Conference and the NCAA for the 1995-96 season, had never even won a Gulf South tournament game until this year. Last weekend it won three times to win the GSC tournament title.

Now, in the school's first NCAA basketball tournament appearance, it's a game away from making the Elite Eight.

The 23 wins is more than the school had in the previous three years combined. Two wins came against region top seed Valdosta State, including Saturday's 56-49 win on VSU's home court.

Both teams had to do without all-Gulf South players. Montevallo forward Caleb Kennedy reinjured a hamstring, and played just nine minutes (all in the first half).

Henderson State guard Tavoris Uzoigwe didn't play after injuring a shoulder in Saturday's win over Morehouse. In addition, forward Corey Hill (knee) couldn't go after being shaken up in Saturday's game.

"We had some crazy matchups out there," said Henderson State coach Joe Redmond. "When your lineup doesn't go the way you want it to ... coach Young and them are too smart not to see the mismatches and exploit them.

"Montevallo's been playing some great basketball for a couple of weeks."

Steve Parillon had 20 points and five rebounds for Henderson State (23-7).

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