HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -

George Fant had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Western Kentucky earned its second straight NCAA tournament berth with a 65-63 win over Florida International in the Sun Belt Conference championship game Monday night.

The fifth-seeded Hilltoppers (20-15) used the same script as last season, winning four games in four days to secure their fourth NCAA tournament appearance in six seasons. They capped the run by never trailing in the second half and holding on against the resurgent Panthers.

Florida International (18-14) led by as many as eight in the first half one night after shocking top-seeded Middle Tennessee, but the Panthers were unable to overcome 24-of-62 shooting.

Cameron Bell led Florida International with 15 points.