March 30, 2004

Tennessee Nips Stanford 62-60 on Late Shot

NORMAN, Okla. - Tasha Butts scored in the lane with 1.7 seconds left and Tennessee beat Stanford 62-60 on Tuesday night to advance to the Final Four for the third straight year.



Butts, guarded by All-American Nicole Powell, spun to her right and threw up a right-hander, which banked off the glass and fell through. Two nights earlier, Butts hit two free throws after a disputed end-of-game call to lift the Lady Vols past Baylor in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

After the basket Tuesday, Butts ran back on defense, slapped the floor with both hands and got a bear hug from Shyra Ely as Tennessee coach Pat Summitt called a timeout.

Powell caught a long inbounds pass on the right wing and heaved a 3-point attempt toward the basket, but it banged off the rim and out, and she exhaled in disappointment.

Tennessee had possession after Butts missed a layup from the right block and Stanford's Chelsea Trotter knocked the rebound out of bounds under the basket with 21.7 seconds left.

Butts ran the clock down to 8.4 seconds before Summitt signaled for a timeout to set up the final play.

Butts led Tennessee with 14 points, Ely scored 12 and LaToya Davis had 10 for Tennessee (30-3), which advances to play Southeastern Conference rival LSU in the Final Four on Sunday.

The Lady Vols overcame 31 points and 10 rebounds from Powell, who was the only Cardinal (27-7) player in double figures.

The Lady Vols will be making their eighth Final Four appearance in the past 10 years. They haven't won a championship since 1998.

Tennessee lost to Connecticut in the championship game last year. The Huskies also eliminated the Lady Vols in the national semifinals in 2002 and the final in 2000.

Connecticut plays Minnesota in the semifinals on Sunday.
Tennessee 62 - Stanford 60 - We're going to the Final Four in New Orleans!!! :-) :-) :-)

Minnesota Women Upend Duke 82-75

NORFOLK, Va. - Lindsay Whalen and Minnesota ended Duke's championship dreams. The seventh-seeded Golden Gophers got 27 points from Whalen and 20 points and 18 rebounds from Janel McCarville to oust the top-seeded Blue Devils 82-75 in the Mideast Regional final Tuesday night.

Minnesota had already bounced second-seeded Kansas State and third-seeded Boston College on its improbable run to the Final Four.

The Golden Gophers led most of the way and answered every Duke rally.

"Coach (Pam) Borton said the most aggressive team was going to win and that's the way we've played all year," Whalen said. "Tonight we just got a few things to go for us and we just played loose and played together."

Duke (30-4) was turned away in its last bid to win a championship for All-American Alana Beard and fellow senior Iciss Tillis. Beard scored just 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting and was in tears as the game ended.

"You guys don't understand how it feels to go out there every single year thinking you're going to win the national championship and it doesn't go your way," Tillis said. "It hurts. It's really painful."

The Blue Devils had reached the Final Four the last two seasons, but lost in the semifinals both times.

"Going into the game I thought we were very ready to play, but early on I thought it appeared we were all pretty tight," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "It's sometimes easier to be an underdog and just go out and play and understand that nobody expects you to win."

Minnesota (25-8) had never passed the round of 16 before this year. The Golden Gophers will go to New Orleans next week as the highest seed to play in a Final Four since Arkansas got that far as a ninth seed in 1998.

Whalen, McCarville and the Golden Gophers led most of the game, and by as many as 10, but didn't flinch when Monique Currie's layup with 5:33 left pulled the Blue Devils even at 59.

Working the ball around, the Gophers found Shannon Bolden in the left corner, and her third 3-pointer of the half pushed the lead back to three.

"They hit every big shot," Goestenkors said. "It seemed like every time we made a run and cut it to two or tied it, they'd come back and hit a huge three."

Duke answered with two free throws by Currie, but McCarville hit both ends of a one-and-one, drawing Tillis' fourth foul in the process.

Beard again pulled Duke within a point with a driving basket, her first field goal in 16 minutes and only fourth in the game, but the Gophers scored the next five points.

Kadidja Andersson hit a free throw, McCarville went around Tillis for a layup and then dropped a gorgeous pass behind her back to feed Whalen streaking to the basket for a layup.

Beard hit the second of two free throws for Duke, Currie hit a 12-footer and Lindsey Harding followed a free throw by McCarville to again pull Duke to 70-68 with 1:03 left.

Whalen scored and McCarville hit a free throw with 47.8 seconds left, making it 73-68.

Tillis' basket in the lane cut it to three with 37.3 seconds left, then Tillis fouled out four seconds later, putting Whalen at the line.

She made both and the Blue Devils never got closer than four again.

"This definitely has not sunk in yet," coach Pam Borton said.

Andersson added 17 points and Bolden 10 for Minnesota.

Currie led Duke with 19 points and Tillis had 12.

The Gophers led 42-32 in the second half when Tillis and Duke finally started clicking. Tillis hit two free throws and a layup, Brittany Hunter hit a baseline jumper and Tillis added a bank, the 8-0 run making it a two-point game.

But Minnesota was undaunted. Whalen hit McCarville with a no-look pass for a layup, Andersson scored in the lane and Whalen fed Andersson through traffic for another layup, making it 50-44.

The Blue Devils again pulled within one at 50-49, but Minnesota scored seven straight before Duke scored six in a row to get within 57-55.

The Golden Gophers led 33-26 at halftime, but 13 turnovers kept them from pulling away.
(6) Stanford (27-6) vs. (1) Tennessee (29-3)
Game Info: 9:00 pm EST - Tue Mar 30, 2004
Midwest Regional Final - Lloyd Noble Center (Norman, OK)

As much success as Stanford has had in the NCAA tournament, the Cardinal know it's nothing compared to what Tennessee has accomplished.
``They have a good program and they have so much history,'' Stanford star Nicole Powell said. ``They are the ultimate powerhouse, and you can join them or you can beat them.''

The Lady Vols, who have won six national championships, will try to earn their 15th trip to the Final Four when they face the Cardinal in the regional finals.

Tennessee benefited from a controversial call in its 71-69 victory over Baylor on Sunday in the round of 16.

With the game tied at 69, Baylor's Jessika Stratton was called for a foul as time expired. The officials added 0.2 seconds to the clock, and Tasha Butts sank both free throws, giving the Lady Vols the win.

Even Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said she was disappointed with the ending.

``I hate to see a good game end like that,'' she said. ``Tonight was a situation where there were a lot of calls everybody is on edge about.''

Baylor said on Monday it planned to request a review of the play, but Summitt said the win was legitimate and any protest wouldn't affect her team.

``I told our basketball team after the game that in every postseason there is a game in which you are really tested, and you figure out a way to win and survive,'' Summitt said. ``Tonight was one of those games.''

Shyra Ely scored 19 points, and Butts added 16 for the Lady Vols, who have reached the regional finals in 18 of their last 22 seasons.

Stanford also reached the round of eight in dramatic fashion on Sunday, as Kelley Suminski hit a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left to give the Cardinal a 57-55 victory over Vanderbilt.

``I'm just so elated for Kelley. She's ready to cry,'' coach Tara VanDerveer said. ``I'm so happy for her. It was almost surreal. The clock was going down, Nicole found her and she knocked down the shot.

``It was just beautiful.''

Powell had 16 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists, and Suminski scored 11 points for Stanford, which also got 10 points from T'Nae Thiel.

The Cardinal will be making their first appearance in the regional finals since 1997, when they beat Georgia. They have made four Final Four appearances and won NCAA championships in 1990 and 1992.

Tennessee beat Stanford 70-66 in overtime on Dec. 14 despite Powell's 32 points and 16 rebounds. Powell missed her final 10 field-goal attempts, including potential game-winners in regulation and overtime.

Summitt said she's glad her team has already seen Powell play.

``I'd hate to think this was our first look at Nicole Powell,'' she said.

The Lady Vols lead the all-time series between the schools 15-4.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Stanford - F Powell (19.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 4.2 apg), F Thiel (7.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg), C Chelsea Trotter (6.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg), G Suminski (10.2 ppg, 2.9 apg), G Susan Borchardt (8.5 ppg, 2.6 apg). Tennessee - F LaToya Davis, (4.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg), F Ely (15.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg), C Ashley Robinson (8.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg), G Butts (10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Shanna Zolman (12.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Stanford - Automatic bid, Pac-10 champion; beat Missouri 68-44, first round; beat No. 2 Oklahoma 68-43, second round; beat Vanderbilt 57-55, regional semifinals. Tennessee - At-large berth; beat Colgate 77-54, first round; beat DePaul 79-59, second round; beat Baylor 71-69, regional semifinals.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Stanford - 40-15, 18 year. Tennessee - 83-16, 23 years.

March 29, 2004

Martelli, Summitt named coaches of the year

ATLANTA, March 29 (UPI) -- St. Joseph's Phil Martelli and Tennessee's Pat Summitt on Monday were named the 2004 Naismith College Basketball Coaches of the Year.

Martelli completed his ninth season at St. Joseph's by leading the Hawks to their best record in school history at 30-2. They became the first team since Nevada Las-Vegas in 1991 to finish the regular season unbeaten.

Under Martelli, the Hawks earned a No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history. But they came up one game short of the Final Four after suffering a 64-62 loss to Oklahoma State in the East Rutherford Region on Saturday.

Summitt, women's basketball's all-time leader with 850 career victories, captured the Naismith honor for the fourth time in her illustrious career. She also won the award in 1987, 1989 and 1998.

In her 30th year at Tennessee, Summitt has guided the Lady Volunteers to six national titles. She has her team within one win of reaching the Final Four for the third straight season. Tennessee (29-3) next faces Stanford on Tuesday.
LSU Tops Georgia to Reach First Final Four

SEATTLE - Back in Baton Rouge, Sue Gunter must have been leaping off her couch. Seimone Augustus scored 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting and gritty point guard Temeka Johnson added 16, leading LSU to its first Final Fourwith a 62-60 win over SEC rival Georgia on Monday night.



The Lady Tigers (27-7), seeded fourth in the West Regional, will make about an hour drive from their campus to play in New Orleans. They'll meet the winner of Tuesday's Midwest Regional final between Stanford and Tennessee.

It was a close contest, but Gunter's team will finally go to the Final Four in her 40th season of coaching. She hasn't been with the team for the past two months, staying home with acute bronchitis.

Gunter was expected to make the trip to New Orleans, but she'll probably sit in the stands or remain at the team hotel.

Christi Thomas had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia, but she missed four of five free throws in the final five minutes. Coming into this one, she was 19-for-19 from the line in the SEC and NCAAtournaments. Janese Hardrick added 18 points.

The third-seeded Lady Bulldogs (25-10) had a chance to win it in the closing seconds.

Hardrick brought the ball downcourt, but there was contact with Johnson. No foul was called, and Hardrick skidded to her knees and lost control of the ball.

The horn went off as players scrambled, and LSU had the win safely in hand. The Lady Tigers rushed off the bench in a wild celebration, and Johnson raced to the sideline to find acting coach Pokey Chatman for a long hug.

Augustus, named Most Outstanding Player in the regional, also had eight rebounds and two blocked shots. In the regional semifinal win over Texas, she scored 29 on 14-of-19 shooting.

Georgia had its biggest lead at 54-47 with 6:53 remaining after Sherill Baker, who was 0-for-7 at that point, swished a 3-pointer.

The Lady Bulldogs couldn't extend the lead, though,

LSU charged back, getting a 3-pointer from Augustus, an inside basket from Treynell Clavelle and a jumper by Augustus to trim the margin to 56-54 with 4:37 to play, but Hardrick hit another 3-pointer to extend Georgia's lead.

Doneeka Hodges completed a three-point play, putting the ball back and getting fouled after she missed an open layup on the break. That pulled LSU to 59-57. The play started when Johnson made a steal.

Johnson tied it moments later, hitting a 16-footer from the left wing with 1:54 to play. She finished 8-for-15.

Georgia led 32-28 at halftime.

The Lady Bulldogs got a basket by Thomas and two free throws by Hardrick to go up 32-26 — a sizeable lead at that point. Augustus, though, answered for LSU with a jumper in the lane with 3.5 seconds on the clock.

Though Gunter hasn't been with the team for games, she still attended practices and film sessions, and she often called Chatman to talk strategy.

Gunter went to Nashville for the SEC tourney, but watched on TV from the hotel.

Chatman looked comfortable as acting coach, chatting up the referees and directing her team from the bench.

Georgia, which beat LSU 80-74 on Jan. 25 at Athens, Ga., was seeking its sixth Final Four but first in five years.
Ga. Tech Knocks Off Kansas, 79-71 (OT)

ST. LOUIS - Georgia Tech is on its way to the Final Four for the first time since 1990. With leading scorer B.J. Elder hobbled by a badly sprained ankle, Jarrett Jack scored a career-high 29 points to lift the third-seeded Yellow Jackets to a 79-71 victory over Kansas in overtime of the St. Louis Regional championship Sunday.

No team has had more tight games on its road to the Final Four than Georgia Tech. Their first three games were decided by a total of 13 points.

Solid all day, Jack was unstoppable in overtime. After little Will Bynum hit a 3 to break a 71-all tie, Jack went 4-for-4 from the line in the last 47 seconds to seal the win.

Jack finished 8-of-12 from the floor, and also had nine rebounds and six assists. Luke Schenscher added 15 points and Clarence Moore had 14 for the Yellow Jackets (27-9).

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, coach Paul Hewitt threw his hands in the air in triumph and a wide grin spread across his face. The Yellow Jackets ran onto the court when the buzzer sounded and piled together for a group hug. Elder's teammates tried to lift him up, but they couldn't get him off the ground as the impromptu mosh pit bopped around.

The Yellow Jackets will now face second-seeded Oklahoma State on Saturday in San Antonio.

Kansas (24-9) could do nothing but watch the celebration with disappointment, denied a third straight trip to the Final Four.

But these Jayhawks didn't play like a Final Four team. They shot 40 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 15 times. Wayne Simien, who'd been averaging 20 points in the tournament, was held to 11 on 4-of-14 shooting. Keith Langford scored 15 on 4-of-11 before fouling out in overtime.

It was the Jayhawks' first loss in a regional final since March 26, 1996, when they lost to Syracuse.

Though Georgia Tech was seeded one spot better, it came into the game as an underdog. The Jayhawks had the experience and the momentum, having won their first three tournament games by 22 points.

They even had a domeful of fans, playing just five hours away from their campus in Lawrence, Kan.

As if that wasn't enough, the Yellow Jackets were playing with a gimpy Elder. Elder, who averaged a team-high 15.8 points, suffered a severely sprained ankle in Friday night's regional when Nevada's Kirk Snyder fell on him.

He started, but was visibly limping and couldn't run close to full speed. He played 12 minutes, going 0-for-2 with an assist.

But the Yellow Jackets have bragged all year about their depth, always finding someone to step up and get the job done. Sunday was no different.

The Yellow Jackets had their away with the Jayhawks early, smothering them defensively and holding Simien and Langford to a combined four points on 0-for-10 shooting. The Yellow Jackets led by as much as 11 in the first half and were up 40-33 with 16:39 left in regulation.

But Simien and Langford finally broke loose, and Kansas came roaring back.

Langford scored on a driving layup — his first field goal of the day — and Simien ran off five quick points to give Kansas a 43-42 lead, its first, with 13:04 to play. The pro-Kansas crowd went wild, and the Jayhawks' bench sprinted onto the floor when a timeout was called seconds later.

Jack was fouled by Langford on a driving layup, and he converted the three-point play to start a 7-0 run that gave Georgia Tech a 65-58 lead with 3:56 to play.

But the Jayhawks weren't done — not by a long shot. Langford converted his own three-point play to pull Kansas within 65-61 with 3:03 left in regulation.

After Miles and Jack traded steals, Miles fouled Jack with 39 seconds left.

Jack made the front end of a one-and-one, putting the Yellow Jackets up 66-63. But he missed the second and Simien grabbed the rebound. Simien missed a short hook at the other end, but Jeff Graves came up with the ball in the scramble and kicked it out to the freshman J.R. Giddens, who calmly drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 66 with 16 seconds left.

The Yellow Jackets had a chance to win it in regulation, but Lewis missed a layup and Bynum couldn't get the tip to fall. Moore got the rebound, but he couldn't get control of the ball before the buzzer sounded.

Overtime, though, belonged to the Yellow Jackets.

After Michael Lee scored on a layup to tie the game at 71, Bynum put Georgia Tech had for good by drilling a 3-pointer.

Now Georgia Tech is on its way to San Antonio, where Bynum will match up with high school teammate Tony Allen of Oklahoma State.
(1) Tennessee 71, (4) Baylor 69
Mar 28, 11:49 pm EST

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Tasha Butts hit two free throws after a questionable call with 0.2 seconds left to give top-seeded Tennessee a 71-69 victory over Baylor in the Midwest Regional semifinals Sunday night.

Shyra Ely missed a fast-break layup as the clock ticked down and Butts was unable to tap in the putback. In the scramble for the loose ball, Baylor's Jessika Stratton collided with Butts and was called for a foul.

Officials huddled after the buzzer and reviewed the replay on a courtside television monitor to see if the foul came before time ran out.

After a few moments, Butts went to the line and sank both shots.

Ely finished with 19 points to lead Tennessee (29-3), which will play in the round of eight for the ninth time in 10 years.

The Lady Vols will play sixth-seeded Stanford, which beat Vanderbilt on a late 3-pointer in the early game, on Tuesday night.

Butts scored 16, LaToya Davis 12 and Shanna Zolman added 10.

Emily Niemann scored 19 to lead fourth-seeded Baylor (26-9). Stratton added 17 and Sophia Young had 13.

With the game tied at 69 and 31 seconds, Stratton dribbled the ball down to 9 seconds before driving to the basket and giving the ball away.

Ely ran full court, but couldn't make the layup.

An NCAA representative told reporters the officials would not be available for comment.

Baylor seemed to be in control with 6:41 to play. Dionne Brown put the Bears ahead 64-57 on a layup, then Tennessee star Ashley Robinson was whistled for her fifth foul at the other end.

As Baylor fans screamed ``Go Baylor Go,'' Tennessee fans sat and waited for the Lady Vols to come back. Ely turned to the crowd and gestured for the orange-clad faithful to make some noise.

Tennessee responded immediately with a 12-3 run, taking the lead on Ely's jumper in the lane.

But after Young's one-hander in the lane tied the game at 69, Ely missed two free throws to give Baylor possession with 57 seconds left.

Niemann pulled down a Brown miss with 31 seconds to play and the ball was knocked out of bounds, handing possession back to Baylor.

But the Bears never got off another shot and the Lady Vols survived a scare.

March 28, 2004

(1) Tennessee 71 - (4) Baylor 69

Ga. Tech Knocks Off Kansas, 79-71 (OT)

Duke 66, Xavier 63
California defeats Drury, 75-72, to capture the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship


California University of Pennsylvania Coach Darcie Vincent celebrates with Megan Storck after California defeated Drury, 75-72, to capture the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship Saturday in St. Joseph, Mo.

~~~~~~~

Cal women win thriller over Drury to earn first national title


Lady Vulcan players triumphantly hold up the women's NCAA Division II national championship trophy after Saturday's game in St. Joseph, Mo.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Give, give, give is sophomore Megan Storck's motto.

It doesn't matter who it is, the California University of Pa. point-guard is happy to feed her teammates an assist every chance she gets.

But on Saturday night, with the Vulcans trailing in the game's waning moments, what Storck gave her teammates was a national championship.

Storck's three-pointer with 28.6 seconds remaining gave California a lead it would not relinquish, as the Vulcans gutted out a 75-72 victory over Drury in the Division II title game before 2,681 crazed fans at St. Joseph Civic Arena.

Trailing 72-71 after Drury's Kara Rutledge hit a pair of free throws with 44.9 seconds remaining, Storck took a pass from Dillon and didn't hesitate to let go of a 21-footer just off center of the arch.

What seemed like an eternity passed before the ball cut through the net and dropped to the delight of not only Storck, her teammates and coaches, but to a section of boisterous California fans.

"It was a scramble," Storck said. "I just looked and saw Erin had the ball and a girl ran out on her so she couldn't shoot it, but nobody was really on me and I just went ahead and shot it."

The game-winning shot will help put to rest any memories of last year's Elite Eight semifinal loss to Northern Kentucky, a game that California dropped 45-43 after several missed shots in the final seconds, including a three-point attempt by Storck.

This time Storck didn't miss. After her three-pointer gave the Vulcans the lead, Drury's Hope Hunt missed a three-point attempt and Becky Siembak grabbed the rebound. Siembak made one of two shots to give California a 75-72 lead, and the Lady Panthers called a timeout with 5.8 seconds remaining.

Rutledge then freed herself momentarily from Storck and let fly a long three-point attempt from beyond the top of the key. The ball fell two feet short of the rim, and went out of bounds to California with 0.6 seconds left.

Sameera Philyaw was fouled with 0.1 seconds to play, but missed both foul shots. Storck ended the game, however, and began the Vulcans' celebration after she grabbed an errant inbounds pass near mid-court.

"Maybe this is the first time I'm speechless," said Vulcans coach Darcie Vincent. "This was a very, very well-played game at times. The determination and character we showed not only as a team but as individuals ... it comes down to heart. This was absolutely a phenomenal game."

Storck was named the Elite Eight Most Valuable Player, after averaging 16 points and 12 assists in victories over South Dakota State University, Merrimack and finally Drury.

Junior Sara McKinney led all scorers Saturday with 26 points, 18 of which came in the first half, and was also named to the Elite Eight All-Tournament Team.

California (35-1) won its 11th straight game to cap its best season ever, but not before watching the Lady Panthers use a 19-2 run to erase a 15-point Vulcans' lead.

Leading 41-33 at halftime, California methodically pushed its advantage to 59-44 after a McKinney free throw with 12:35 to play. Megan Brunson's three-pointer started Drury's comeback and a three-point play by Amy Belew made it 59-50.

Philyaw answered a Hunt lay-in, but two free throws from Belew and Jill Curry, a lay-in by Rutledge and a Brunson three-pointer tied the game at 61 with 7:46 to play. Storck then missed a jumper and fouled Curry, who made both free throws for a two-point Drury lead, the Lady Panthers' first since the game's opening minute.

One of the game's eight mandatory media timeouts than stopped the game with 7:07 to play.

"We told the kids to believe in themselves and that we knew we could do this," Vincent said. "As a coach, I didn't really have to say much. The kids were telling each other that."

McKinney tied the game with a lay-in, and a lay-up and two free throws by Philyaw gave the Vulcans a four-point lead with 5:09 remaining.

Rutledge hit one of two free throws with 4:22 to go, and Hunt tied game with a three-pointer with 3:55 left. Dillon gave California the lead back 30 seconds later with a jumper, but Rutledge nailed a three-pointer to give Drury a 70-69 lead with 2:42 to play. McKinney answered on California's next possession with a basket, then both teams failed to convert a pair of possessions before Storck fouled Rutledge with 44 seconds remaining.

Amanda Newton was a force inside for Drury, leading the Lady Panthers with 17 points and nine rebounds. But Newton spent a five-minute stretch on the bench after picking up her fourth personal foul with 10:19 to play.

Rutledge added 15 points, Curry 14 and Hunt 10.

Drury (36-2), ranked No. 2 in the country in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Coaches poll coming into the Elite Eight Tournament, saw its 29-game winning streak snapped. The Lady Panthers are playing only their fourth season of college basketball after the program was started in the summer of 1999.

"All we asked the Good Lord was for an opportunity to step on the floor and a chance at the end to win it," said Drury coach Nyla Milleson. "We came up a few points short, but I could never be more proud. I thought if we out-rebounded them and didn't commit as many turnovers we could win, but we never quite had an answer for McKinney.

"We were hoping she would cool off at some point. She's not a three-point shooter, but she was able to drive and rise up over our kids."

Drury held a slim edge on the boards, 35-34, but committed two more turnovers (17-15) than the Vulcans.

~~~~~~~

Drury huge support cast doesn't faze Cal players, fans

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - As it did in its first game against South Dakota State, California University of Pa. ran into a very large, very loud opposing crowd in Saturday night's Division II title game against Drury.

Swarms of red and black-clad Lady Panther fans made the 220-mile trip to watch their team, in only its fourth-year of existence, take on the Vulcans and ultimately fall, 75-72.

Of the 2,681 fans to attend the game - which was nationally televised by ESPN 2 - between 200-300 owed their allegiance to the Vulcans, which left a very imposing number of Drury fans screaming, yelling and chanting the entire pre-game and 40 minutes of action.

The Lady Panthers also brought cheerleaders, a band and a mascot.

All of this should have made it very hard for California to concentrate on the task at hand, right?

Well ...

"We had the experience from the South Dakota State game the other night, and we were joking during the pre-game that we were just going to pretend the fans were cheering for us," said senior Becky Siembak. "When I heard the band play, I just thought about it like they were playing for us.

"We couldn't let the crowd be a factor. If we did, it would have been a different outcome."

At no time were Drury's fans louder than after the Lady Panthers took the lead 63-61 thanks to a 19-2 run.

A media timeout stopped play, California regrouped and ran off the next six points.

"It wasn't a very good atmosphere in the timeout," Siembak said. "We just told each other to stay calm. We picked each other up and pulled together and got the win."

California's fans may have been at a huge deficit, but made a fair amount of noise of their own. The Vulcan faithful also sported several signs, and even included bare-chested students lined up together to spell C-A-L.

"I really thought our fans were loud, maybe just as loud as theirs were, at times," said California's Sara McKinney.

Checkmate

Because of the game being televised by ESPN 2, four media timeouts per half stopped play. The stoppages occurred at the closest deadball to 16-, 12-, 8- and 4-minute marks.

The extra breathers made for some interesting moves between Vincent and Drury coach Nyla Milleson.

The Lady Panthers' Amanda Newton was an inside force during the game's first 20 minutes, scoring 15 points.

But after a change by Vincent to a matchup-zone, Newton was held to just one second-half basket.

"She was putting it to us a little there in the first half," Vincent said. "We had to adjust. I think it took them out of a rhythm. I'm a firm believer that offense is about rhythm. You get into a flow.

"This was a fun game to coach I think on both ends. Every timeout there was something we were doing different. Then you saw her (Milleson) do the same thing. It was like a chess match. Which move are you going to make right now and how can I counter it?

"We would draw up an offense and go out there and get it down for that four minutes, come back, make an adjustment and go again.

"She was doing it as well because we just kept changing so many things up."

Up next

Several California fans showed up at Saturday's game with homemade signs in tow.

Playing off a tradition for ESPN-televised games, one sign read:

"Up Next for California Univeristy: The World Series of Poker Tour"

Unstoppable

Drury had little success trying to stop McKinney, especially in the first half in which she was 8 of 12 from the floor and tallied 18 points. Whether it was a baseline turnaround, a medium-range jumper or a strong move to the basket, McKinney had her way with the Lady Panthers' defense.

"I have been thinking about last year when I got hurt in the last couple minutes and I really couldn't do anything for my teammates when we lost," McKinney said. "I refused to let that happen this year, so I just stayed focused. I've been working hard.

"I've been working extra with Coach Heather and she's been helping me shoot, and she's been bumping on me and pushing me which most of the people do because they say I'm kind of skinny. I just kept thinking I don't want my senior (class) to go out with a loss, so I was going to play as hard as I could. I kept telling people that when I make two or three, they can see it in my eyes and I want the ball."

March 27, 2004

Baylor coach looks to Summitt for advice, and now for big win
March 27, 2004

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Kim Mulkey-Robertson remembers how Pat Summitt stood by her when she was a player and comforted her when she was about to become a mother.

It's why Mulkey-Robertson has nothing but admiration for the legendary Tennessee coach she'll face Sunday in the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinals.

``I just love Pat Summitt,'' said Mulkey-Robertson, coach of fourth-seeded Baylor. ``She's my kind of coach. A lot of what I do was learned from Pat Summitt. She's hard-nosed, she's a mother, she's married. She takes her career and passion for the game seriously, and at the same time she loves her family.

``She's everything I aspire to be as a coach.''

Mulkey-Robertson played on the 1984 Olympic team Summitt coached. Summitt endeared herself to the young player six weeks before the Olympics started, when Mulkey-Robertson fractured her foot.

``I woke up one morning and couldn't walk,'' Mulkey-Robertson said. ``The doctors said stay off of it for three to four weeks.''

Summitt refused to pick an alternate.

``I'll never forget when I had my meeting with her. She said 'Absolutely not, you made this team and you will be ready,''' Mulkey-Robertson said. ``It took me three weeks and I was back to full speed. I won't ever forget that.''

Summitt said making a roster change was never a serious consideration.

``Her leadership, her mental toughness, her attitude -- she's a great competitor,'' Summitt said. ``I felt like she would bring something to our Olympic team that obviously was contagious.''

The team went on to win the gold medal.

Years later when Mulkey-Robertson was pregnant with her first child, Makenzie, and concerned about how her career would be affected, Summitt was there again.

``I just talked to her as a mom,'' Summitt said.

The young Louisiana Tech assistant coach never forgot.

``Just the things she answered for me and the reassurance she gave me,'' Mulkey-Robertson said, ``I knew it was going to be OK.''

As they cross paths again, Mulkey-Robertson's Bears (26-8) will be looking for the biggest win in school history. Baylor is making its first appearance in the round of 16. Tennessee (28-3) is there for the 23rd consecutive time.

``Our fans are excited, they are excited just to be in the Sweet 16,'' Mulkey-Robertson said. ``Her fans would probably be disappointed if they didn't make it to the Sweet 16.''

In the other regional semifinal, second-seeded Vanderbilt will be making its 11th appearance in the round of 16 and No. 6 seed Stanford its 13th.

The Commodores (26-7) will need to find a way to slow down All-American Nicole Powell, who's averaging 20 points per game this season.

``She'll post up guards if you put a guard against her. She'll take you outside if you put a post (player) on her,'' Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb. ``She presents a very tough matchup for whatever you decide to do against her.''

Balcomb said the Commodores would guard the 6-foot-2 forward by committee.

``She is going to draw a lot of attention,'' Balcomb said. ``You have to be careful not to give her too much attention because her supporting cast is very good and very capable to hurt you.''

Stanford (26-6) will have to contend with Vanderbilt's balanced scoring attack, with five players averaging in double figures. Jenni Benningfield, a 6-foot-3 forward, leads the team with 13.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Abi Ramsey, Hillary Hager, Ashley Earley and Carla Thomas all also average more than 10 points per game.

``We try to get balanced scoring so that if one player is off, one player is injured or one or two players is sick, you can continue to win and have people step up and not count on one player,'' Balcomb said. ``That's what makes us strong right now.''
California, Pa. 75, Drury 72

March 27, 2004

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) -- Megan Storck hit a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to help California of Pennsylvania win its first Division II women's title Saturday, 75-72 over Drury.

Drury had a chance to tie the game, but Kara Rutledge's 3-point attempt fell short with 3 seconds left.

Sara McKinney led California (35-1) with 26 points, and Storck -- selected the tournament's most outstanding player -- finished with 16 points and 10 assists.

Amanda Newton had 17 points for Drury (36-2), which overcame a 15-point deficit to take a two-point lead with 7:07 left.
Duke, Duhon Overcome Illinois 72-62

ATLANTA - Chris Duhon may be hurting, but he's doing just fine. So are the Duke Blue Devils. Dragging himself off the floor time and time again, Duhon steered Duke into an all-too-familiar position — one win from the Final Four — with a 72-62 victory over Illinois in the Atlanta Regional semifinals Friday night.

Duhon attempted only one shot, but it didn't matter for Duke (30-5). The 6-foot-1 point guard dished out eight assists and kept sneaking inside for rebounds, winding up with a game-high 10. He also spent part of the night guarding Illinois' top scorer, Deron Williams, who managed just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.

Not bad for a guy who was playing with sore ribs, a heavy wrapping visible under his jersey. Duhon was hurt in the ACC championship game — when the Blue Devils looked vulnerable after a stunning collapse against Maryland.

Not so fast.

Top-seeded Duke pulled away from Illinois (29-6) in the second half and headed on to the regional final to meet No. 7 Xavier, which knocked off Texas 79-71 in the first game of the evening. The winner of that game gets a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio.

Luol Deng led the Blue Devils with 18 points, while J.J. Redick added 17 and Shelden Williams 14. But it was Duhon, the senior leader, who set the tone.

He dove out of bounds once to make a save, managing to call timeout before slamming to the floor. On two other occasions, he was knocked to the court by Illinois players.

Every time, Duhon pulled himself up and kept on going.

Georgia Tech Sails Over Nevada

ST. LOUIS - Georgia Tech is so good it didn't even need its leading scorer to reach the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. Marvin Lewis had 23 points and Will Bynum made a huge layup with 65 seconds left to give the Yellow Jackets a 72-67 victory over Nevada on Friday night in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

The third-seeded Yellow Jackets (26-9) are in the regional finals for just the third time in school history and the first time since 1990.

They'll play fourth-seeded Kansas in the St. Louis Regional final on Sunday. Kansas (24-8) demolished upstart Alabama-Birmingham 100-74 in the early game to advance to the regional finals for a third straight year.

The 10th-seeded Wolf Pack (25-9) knocked off Michigan State and routed Gonzaga to make the round of 16, and it seemed as if another upset was in the making early — especially with Georgia Tech forced to play without B.J. Elder.

Elder, who is averaging 16.2 points, sprained his right ankle less than two minutes into the game when Kirk Snyder landed on it.

The Wolf Pack led by as much as eight in the first half. But they cooled off in the second and Georgia Tech's stingy defense finally kicked in. The Wolf Pack was a dismal 7-for-33 in the second half, and Snyder was just 2-for-12. Snyder didn't score his first points until there were 6 1/2 minutes left.

Todd Okeson, who had 11 points in the first half, was 1-of-10 in the second, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range.

Lewis made back-to-back 3s to give Georgia Tech a 63-58 lead, its largest of the game, with 5:20 left. But Snyder, so quiet most of the half, came back big. His 3-pointer with 3:26 left pulled the Wolf Pack within 67-65, and he made a pair of free throws 90 seconds later to tie the game.

But then Bynum came up with the play of the night. The 6-foot spark plug hasn't gotten as much playing time as maybe he'd like, playing behind Jarrett Jack. But when he does get the ball, good makes things happen.

Driving hard to the basket, he leaped over Okeson, knocking him over while making the layup. Bynum looked as if he might land on his head, but he somehow managed to right himself while the ball swished through the net to give Georgia Tech a 69-67 lead with 1:04 to play.

The Wolf Pack was forced to foul, and Lewis missed the first, drawing a loud groan from the vocal Georgia Tech contingent. He made the second, giving the Yellow Jackets a 70-67 lead with 49 seconds left.

Nevada had one last chance, but Okeson missed a long 3-pointer. Moore was fouled, and he made the first to seal the victory.

Snyder finished with 21 points and when the final buzzer sounded he sat on the floor, watching the Georgia Tech fans celebrate.

Okeson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Cal advances to national championship game on ESPN2

ST. JOSEPH, MO – The California Vulcans are one step closer to greatness.

The Vulcans defeated Merrimack College 89-65 on Thursday night to advance to the NCAA Division II championship game against Drury University. The game will be televised live on Saturday, March 27 at 6 p.m. EST time on ESPN2.

One of the stars of the game was a figure who has played sparingly on the season. Dani Mills, the freshman from Bradford, Ontario, scored a career-high 10 points to go with a team-high nine rebounds and played a huge role in Cal’s victory. Mills was averaging just 1.9 points per game and 1.2 rebounds per game entering the contest.

“ We’re always looking for someone to step up coming off the bench,” Mills said. “Tonight was my night.”

“ Dani really came out tonight. She was very composed and made a big difference for us,” added Cal coach Darcie Vincent.

The game looked like it was going to be a rout, with Cal (34-1) scoring just five seconds into the game. A few minutes later, the score was 20-4. At one point, the Vulcans held a 21-point lead and were up 47-28 at halftime.

Then a problem happened.

The Warriors (31-3) came out of the second half with a fire in their eyes, going on a 17-4 run in the first five minutes to close their deficit to six points. Cal answered with a couple baskets of their own, but Merrimack managed to close the gap to six points again at 60-54.

“ They were playing harder and more aggressive than us in the second half,” Vincent said.

But the comeback attempt stopped for the Warriors, who were held to 11 points over the final 11 minutes. The Vulcans racked up 29 points to come away with the victory.

Two Vulcans (Sameera Philyaw and Becky Siembak) scored 20 points. Siembak scored her 2,000th career point and stands at 2,014. She is only the seventh PSAC player to reach that mark.

Sara McKinney scored 18 points and Megan Storck notched yet another double-double with 12 points and 14 assists. Four Vulcans grabbed seven or more rebounds (Siembak and McKinney had eight and Fanisha Clark had seven).

March 25, 2004

D1 Men's Tournament

Oklahoma St. 63 - Pitt 51 :-(

D2 Women's Tournament

California University of PA 89 - Merrimack 65 :-)

Championship Game, Saturday, March 27 at 6PM on ESPN 2
Drury (36-1) - California (PA) (34-1) :-)
Vulcans beat defending champions to reach Final Four

ST. JOSEPH, MO – There will be a new national champion in Division II women’s basketball.

The California Vulcans knocked off the defending title-holders, South Dakota State, 96-79 on Wednesday in a thrilling contest.

Things seemed bleak for Cal (33-1) in the beginning, as the Vulcans trailed 14-6 in the opening five and a half minutes. If the scoreline wasn’t bad enough, there was more bad news. Sara McKinney picked up her third foul just seven minutes into the game, yet California coach Darcie Vincent had little choice but to leave her in the game. McKinney responded by scoring the next four points to close the gap to two before Vincent removed her from the game.

“ We weren’t fluent in the first half and it hurts even more when your star player is on the bench with not two, but three fouls in the first half,” Vincent said.

“Tonight it took a little longer to find our rhythm, but eventually we did.”

“ We play very well as a team,” added Becky Siembak. “When Sara’s out, the rest of us know we have to step up our game. That’s what makes us so good.”

Cal roared back and eventually claimed a 42-40 halftime lead. Then the Vulcans went on a run to start the second half that put them in control of the game, out-scoring the Jackrabbits (26-7) 20-6 and held a 16-point lead. Among the leading scorers for California in the second half was Erin Dillon, who hit four three-pointers after the break and six for the game to finish with 18 points.

“ My teammates kept setting me up with good screens,” Dillon said. “All I had to do was make the shots, and fortunately I did. I don’t think they respected my shot.”

“ Dillon was unbelievable,” added SDSU coach Aaron Johnston. “It seemed that every time we did something well on offense, she would hit a three like it was a Sunday afternoon and stop any momentum we gained.”

The Jackrabbits made the game interesting by closing the gap to 73-67 with eight minutes remaining, but the Vulcans went on another of their patented runs, this one of the 10-0 variety to effectively end the contest.

Four other Cal players scored in double figures, led by Megan Storck’s 20 points. She also dished out 12 assists while playing the entire game. Sameera Philyaw and Siembak each scored 17 points while McKinney added 16 points.

The Vulcans shot an amazing 74.1% from the floor in the second half to finish at 58% for the game.

“ I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team shoot that high, especially in the Elite Eight and against us,” said South Dakota State’s Stacie Cizek.

“ Looking at our stats, I would’ve felt pretty good until I looked at theirs,” Johnson said. “Cal played really well tonight and are one of the best teams we’ve played. I don’t think there’s anyone we’ve played that can beat them.”

Siembak is now six points shy of 2,000 for her career. McKinney scored her 1,500th point.

Cal U women’s basketball to meet South Dakota State at Elite Eight Championship Tournament

The California University Vulcan women’s basketball team (32-1) will meet the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (26-6) in the NCAA Division II women’s basketball championships at St. Joseph’s Missouri.

The Vulcans won the NCAA East Region last weekend when they defeated Glenville State, 74-63 at Hamer Gym, and SDSU defeated the University of North Dakota 72-70 in over-time to win the North Central region. The brackets for the championship tournament are set several years in advance of the tournament and the committee does not seed or reseed the teams for the tournament.

This will be the second consecutive appearance for the Vulcans who lost last season to Northern Kentucky University in the semi-final game. SDSU will be making their third consecutive appearance and they are the defending national champions having won last year’s tournament that was also played at St. Joe’s.

This season will mark the Jackrabbits final tournament appearance as they are moving up to Division I next year.

The Vulcans only loss of the season came on February 21 when they were defeated at Shippensburg, 77-73. Since that game they Vulcans have not given up more than the 63 points Glenville scored last Saturday.

Cal and SDSU have never met before but the Vulcans and Jackrabbits men’s teams have played each other in the men’s national tournament. Cal U won that game, 84-73 at Springfield, Mass., in 1991-92, and moved to the national semi-final game.

The Cal games will be carried live on WVCS, FM 92, and they can be heard via the Cal U web page. The games will be televised tape-delayed on CUTV( at least a 2-day delay).

Cal’s first game is Wednesday evening at 9 pm EST. If they advance they will play on Thursday at 9 pm, EST.

The national championship game will be televised live on ESPN 2 on Saturday, March 27, at 6 pm, EST.

Cal women repeat as East region champions!

CALIFORNIA, PA – This was the game everyone wanted to see: California University of PA vs. Glenville State College. The two schools met in the East region final the previous two seasons, splitting the decisions, and faced off in the rubber match on Monday night, with the victor being crowned the champion of the East.

The winner of Round 3, by a 74-63 margin: California, becoming the first PSAC school to win two straight East region titles.

From the start, the game looked like it would be no contest. The Vulcans (32-1) scored the first six points of the game and nine of the first 11. But not so fast, said the Pioneers (29-4), who came back with a 21-8 run and took a 23-17 lead, a lead they would not relinquish for quite some time. At halftime, Glenville led 39-34, and the capacity crowd at Hamer Hall was silent, save for the several hundred Glenville supporters.

California, however, would not let its home crowd down. The Vulcans cut the Pioneers’ lead down to one twice in the first four minutes of the second half, then took the lead when Sameera Philyaw, named East region MVP, converted a three-point play to give Cal a 51-50 advantage. The teams exchanged baskets, then Sara McKinney drained a 16-foot jumper that gave the Vulcans the lead to stay and got the gymnasium jumping.

“ We’ve pulled in some great crowds this season,” said Cal coach Darcie Vincent. “The crowd is our sixth man. I’m absolutely amazed and pleased with the large amount of people they packed into this place. This was a great atmosphere tonight.”

Glenville’s head coach Steve Harold agreed.

“ The crowd was outstanding tonight,” he said. “In the beginning of the game, we wanted to come out and take Cal’s fans out of the game.”

Cal extended the lead to 66-56 with just under five minutes to play, despite playing several minutes with McKinney and Becky Siembak each playing with four fouls. Vincent took a gamble leaving both players in with so much time remaining. Siembak played the rest of the game, while McKinney fouled out at the 2:42 mark and the Vulcans leading 68-58.

“ I knew I wasn’t coming out of the game, even when I got my fourth foul,” Siembak said. “Coach knows I’m smart enough to avoid getting a fifth foul.”

The gamble paid off, as Siembak hit two foul shots with 57.7 seconds remaining that all but iced the game at 71-63. Siembak was one of four Vulcans to notch double-doubles. She had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while McKinney scored 22 points to go with 10 rebounds, Philyaw scored game-highs in points (25) and rebounds (13) and Megan Storck added 16 points and dished out 10 assists. In the process, Storck set a new Cal single-season assist record with 249 and scored her 800th career point (802).

Pacing the way for Glenville were Carrie Triplett with 20 points, Rachel Redick with 17 points and Tracy Wyatt scoring 15 points. Wyatt and Triplett were named to the all-tournament team, along with McKinney, Keauna Vinson of Barton (N.C.) and LaShonda Chiles of Anderson (S.C.)

“ I think this was a great game,” said Vincent. “It was anyone’s ballgame at any time.”

“ I’d really like to congratulate Cal,” Harold said. “They played a heck of a ballgame and are an outstanding team.”

The Vulcans, who extended their home winning streak to 55 games, go on to face South Dakota State, the defending national champions, in the Elite Eight on March 24 at 9 p.m.
(3) Pittsburgh (31-4) vs. (2) Oklahoma St. (29-3)
Game Info: 7:27 pm EST Thu Mar 25, 2004
East Rutherford Region Regional Semifinals - Continental Airlines Arena (East Rutherford, NJ)

Pittsburgh has developed quite a reputation for defense and physical play. It's on the offensive end where the Panthers are lacking.

Third-seeded Pitt will try to rediscover its offense when it takes on No. 2 Oklahoma State in the round of 16.

Pitt scored only 58 points in a loss to Connecticut in the Big East title game, 53 points in a win against Central Florida in the first game of the NCAA tournament, and 59 points to squeak past Wisconsin in the second round.

Over its last six games, Pitt has scored more than 62 points only once.

Julius Page, Pitt's shooting guard, said the Panthers have allowed themselves to be taken out of their game, a mistake the team must avoid to get past Oklahoma State.

Page has scored in double figures only three times in his last nine games, though two of those games were in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

With their offense sputtering, the Panthers have leaned on point guard Carl Krauser not only to run the offense, but to supply most of it. Krauser, averaging 17 points, said the Panthers are due to break out.

``It's coming,'' he said. ``It's fate. It's destiny.''

While they search frantically for offense, the Panthers have continued to win with defense. They have held their first two opponents to an average of 49.5 points and 33 percent shooting from the floor. Pittsburgh held Wisconsin to 55 points and a season-low 36 percent shooting.

Coach Jamie Dixon said the Panthers need forward Chris Taft to play well against Oklahoma State's Ivan McFarlin and Joey Graham. In two tournament games, McFarlin totaled 33 points and 20 rebounds.

``I think (Taft has) been an impact all year long and I think that they have very good inside guys that might play bigger than they're listed,'' Dixon said.

Oklahoma State is also led by third-team All-American John Lucas, who had 13 points and five assists in a 70-53 win over Memphis in the second round Sunday.

The Cowboys, however, continue to lack consistency.

Graham had 20 of his 21 points in the first half, single-handedly outscoring Memphis' entire team during that span as Oklahoma State built a 41-19 halftime lead.

The Cowboys led 54-27 with 14 minutes left before Memphis responded with a 10-0 run. That started a 23-9 surge, capped by Rodney Carney's free throw with 3:38 left, that got Memphis within 63-50.

``I told the team after the ballgame that we have to play for 40 minutes,'' Cowboys coach Eddie Sutton said. ``You can't play that way against Pittsburgh or any other team left in the tournament.''

The winner will face Saint Joseph's or Wake Forest on Saturday.

Pittsburgh is 3-2 against Oklahoma State. The teams last met on Nov. 17, 1991, when the Cowboys beat Pitt in the preseason NIT.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Pittsburgh - F Jaron Brown (11.7 ppg and 5.5 rpg), F Chevon Troutman (9.9 ppg and 6.2 apg), C Taft (11 ppg and 7.6 rpg), G Krauser (15.4 ppg, 4.8 apg and 4.6 rpg), G Page (11.2 ppg and 3 rpg). Oklahoma State - F Graham (12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg), F McFarlin (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg), G Lucas (15.3 ppg, 4.6 apg), G Daniel Bobik (7.5 ppg, 2.8 apg), G Tony Allen (16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Pittsburgh - At-large berth; beat No. 14 Central Florida 53-44, first round; beat No. 10 Wisconsin 59-55, second round. Oklahoma State - Automatic bid, Big 12; beat No. 15 Eastern Washington 75-56, first round; beat No. 7 Memphis 70-53, second round.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Pittsburgh - 14-16, 15 years. Oklahoma State - 33-22, 21 years.

March 24, 2004

Songs Written by Fred Rogers

Two popular songs written by Fred Rogers, the host and creator of "Mister Rogers Neighborhood":

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (1967)

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:

Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please?
Won't you please?
Please, won't you be my neighbor?

It's Such a Good Feeling (1970)

It's such a good feeling to know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling: you're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
"I think I'll make a snappy new day.

It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling.
The feeling you know that
I'll be back when the day is new
And I'll have more ideas for you.
And you'll have things you'll want to talk about.
I will too.

It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling.
The feeling you know that we're friends.
NASA: Mars Once Had Shallow Pool of Water

PASADENA, Calif. - Mars had a shallow pool of briny water on its surface long ago, NASA said Tuesday in announcing what could be the strongest evidence yet that the now-dry Red Planet was once hospitable to life.

The space agency's scientists announced earlier this month that the Opportunity rover found evidence of water in Mars' distant past. But it was unclear whether the water was in the soil or on the surface. The new findings suggest there was a pool of saltwater at least two inches deep.

A rocky outcropping examined by the rover had ripple patterns and concentrations of salt — considered telltale signs that the rock formed in standing water.

"We think Opportunity is now parked on what was once the shoreline of a salty sea on Mars," said Cornell University astronomer Steve Squyres, the mission's main scientist.

The findings add to the growing body of evidence that the Red Planet was once was a wetter and possibly warmer place that may have been conducive to life.

"This is a profound discovery, it has profound implications for astrobiology, and I'd like to say if you have an interest in searching for fossils on Mars, this is the first place you'd want to go," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science.

Although Squyres referred to the water as a sea, scientists said it is not clear how big the body of water might have been or whether it was a fixed feature and not just a desert basin that flooded periodically.

The evidence also does not indicate when water covered the broad and flat region where Opportunity landed, called Meridiani Planum, or for how long. Nor does it indicate if any organisms actually lived on Mars.

If life did flourish at the site when it was awash in water, the type of rock found there is capable of preserving evidence of any biological material, he said.

"If we are correct in our interpretation, this was a habitable environment," Squyres said. "These are the kinds of environments that are very suitable for life."

The findings were presented at a televised news conference at the headquarters of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Washington.

Weiler noted that a group of outside scientists was brought in to review the rover mission scientists' findings before they were announced.

The findings give NASA impetus to expand its Mars exploration program to learn whether microbes ever existed there and, ultimately, whether people can live there, Weiler said.

NASA plans to send a more sophisticated rover to Mars in 2009 to probe for signs of life. In 2013, the space agency plans to send a robotic mission that would collect rock and soil samples and bring them back to Earth for more detailed analysis.

NASA intends to send one or more unmanned missions to Mars every 26 months. President Bush recently proposed a manned mission to visit the planet but did not set a timeline for such an undertaking, which probably remains decades away.

Today, Mars is largely dry and cold. It contains trace amounts of water vapor in its atmosphere and large caps of frozen water at its poles. Spacecraft also have detected significant amounts of ice mixed in the martian soil at high latitudes.

For decades, spacecraft in orbit around Mars have also detected evidence that large amounts of liquid water once flowed across the surface, carving vast and sinuous networks of channels.

But the new findings provide the first definitive evidence from rocks on the surface of Mars that liquid water once pooled on the surface.

Opportunity carried out detailed analyses of the finely layered rocks at its landing site, snapping 152 microscopic images of one feature alone.

The close-ups revealed that the sediments that bonded together to form the rocks were shaped into ripples by water that stood at least two inches deep, said mission team member John Grotzinger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The water flowed over the site at about 1 mph, Grotzinger said.

The analyses also bolstered previously disclosed evidence that suggested the rocks contained a salt called bromine, which would have precipitated out of the water as it evaporated.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, on a $820 million mission to probe Mars for evidence of water in its past.

March 23, 2004

NASA Rover Climbs Out of Martian Crater

LOS ANGELES - NASA's Mars rover Opportunity on Monday managed to climb up and out of the crater that it explored for nearly two months, overcoming a slippery slope that left the vehicle spinning its wheels during an earlier attempt.

The short drive across the sandy inner rim of Eagle Crater placed the rover outside the shallow depression for the first time since it landed Jan. 24.

"The good news is we successfully charged up the rim," mission manager Matt Wallace said. Once out, the rover rolled about 16 1/2 feet before coming to a stop.

An initial attempt to get out of the crater ended in failure on Sunday. The six-wheel-drive rover could not gain traction while trying to climb straight up the 16-degree slope of the 10-foot-deep depression.

So on Monday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent Opportunity on a diagonal course across the inner rim. That gentler approach worked.

"There was a little bit of nervousness, just because of the unexpected slippage we saw yesterday," Wallace said, adding that the incident made it clear engineers still did not completely understand how the martian soil affects the rover's ability to move.

Halfway around Mars, Opportunity's twin, Spirit, has been exploring the rim of a far larger crater before it strikes out for a distant cluster of hills. It landed Jan. 3.

Opportunity's next targets include a rock nicknamed Scoop and a patch of bright soil. Scientists then want to send the vehicle on a 2,600-foot drive to another, larger crater.

NASA launched the twin, $820 million mission to search Mars for evidence the planet once was a wetter place. Opportunity already has uncovered such evidence.

NASA scheduled a Tuesday news conference in Washington to announce what it called another "major scientific finding" by the mission.

Scientists are expected to provide more details about the watery conditions under which rocks found at Opportunity's landing site were formed.
(1) Tennessee 79, (9) DePaul 59

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Tennessee cruised into the NCAA's round of 16 for the 23rd straight year with a 79-59 victory over DePaul on Monday night in the Midwest Regional.

Shanna Zolman scored 18 points in the first half for the top-seeded Lady Vols, who were up by as many as 27 before halftime.

Tennessee next plays Baylor in Norman, Okla., on Sunday.

The Lady Vols (28-3) took command with a 10-3 start and DePaul was shackled further by scoring leader Khara Smith's early foul trouble.

Smith, who scored 23 points in an overtime loss to Tennessee three months ago, played just over six minutes in the first half and was scoreless.

Zolman started 7-for-10, including 4-of-5 from 3-point distance, while her taller teammates controlled the boards by nearly a 3-to-1 margin in the first half.

Zolman didn't score in the second half, but it hardly mattered. Five other Lady Vols scored in double figures.

LaToya Davis and Shyra Ely each had 12, reserve Brittany Jackson scored 11, and Tasha Butts and Sidney Spencer had 10 apiece.

Ashley Robinson's season-high 12 rebounds in the first half matched DePaul's team total. She finished with a career-high 14 rebounds.

The ninth-seeded Blue Demons (23-7) had just three players score in the first half. Ashley Luke led with 13 points.

Khara Smith scored 13 in the second half, despite drawing her fourth foul with 14 minutes left. Charlene Smith also finished with 13 points for DePaul.

Tennessee shot 52.5 percent during its dominating first half, while limiting DePaul to 25 percent.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt now has 82 NCAA tournament wins among her 849 career victories, second only to Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp among college basketball coaches.

March 22, 2004

(3) Georgia Tech 57, (6) Boston Coll. 54

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The only thing Jarrett Jack could have done better was run out the clock.

Quiet for most of the second half, Jack had a big steal and a breakaway dunk with less than six seconds left to help give Georgia Tech a 57-54 victory over Boston College in the NCAA tournament Sunday.

The third-seeded Yellow Jackets advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1996. They'll play 10th-seeded Nevada, fresh off upsets of Gonzaga and Michigan State, on Friday in the St. Louis Regional.

``This is the reason I came here,'' said Jack, a sophomore who was one of the top prep point guards in the country. ``This is the point we wanted to get the program back to.''

Jack finished with eight points, six rebounds and six assists. B.J. Elder led the Yellow Jackets (25-9) with 18 points, while Anthony McHenry scored 10.

Jared Dudley had 13 points for No. 6-seeded Boston College (24-10), but it wasn't enough to make up for the subpar performances of leading scorer Craig Smith and senior Uka Agbai. The two average more than 28 points a game, but they didn't come anywhere close to that after spending much of the day in foul trouble.

Smith, who averaged 19.3 points and 11 rebounds in Boston College's first four postseason games, finished with just two points on 1-of-4 shooting. His only basket came with 5:15 left, and he fouled out with about 30 seconds left. Agbai had eight points, all in the final 15 minutes.

The Eagles also had 22 turnovers and were 9-of-15 from the free throw line.

``They have a lot of athletes,'' Agbai said. ``They seem like a bunch of track stars out there. But it was our turnovers that led to a lot of those fast breaks.''

Still, Boston College gave the Yellow Jackets everything they could handle.

Georgia Tech jumped out to an 11-point lead early in the second half and led by eight with 8:40 to play. But after Elder's 3-pointer with 6:01 left gave the Yellow Jackets a 53-48 lead, they didn't make another field goal until Jack's breakaway basket with about five seconds left.

With the Eagles trailing by one, freshman guard Steve Hailey tried to drive the ball inside, only to find Georgia Tech's 7-foot-1 center, Luke Schenscher, blocking his way. Hailey had no choice but to pass the ball, and Jack was right there to intercept it.

``He had nothing else,'' Schenscher said. ``He had no other options, and Jarrett ... anticipated the play.''

Said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt: ``We always talk about helping the helper. It's one of those times where what the coach tells you sticks in your head.''

Jack grabbed the ball and, with Georgia Tech fans screaming, took it down for a thunderous dunk. It was his first bucket since three minutes into the second half.

``It was a great play,'' McHenry said. ``I told him I wish he would have run the clock out, but it was good.''

Hewitt tried to tell Jack to dribble out the clock, but he couldn't hear because of the crowd noise.

``I didn't know how close anyone was,'' Jack said. ``So I thought I might as well go in and get the easy two and get a three-point lead.''

It left Boston College one last chance, but Jermaine Watson's 3-point attempt skidded around the rim before falling off at the buzzer.

``He had a good look,'' Dudley said. ``Jermaine will knock that down nine out of 10 times. It just didn't fall that time.''

The schools' first meeting since the second round of the 1996 NCAA tournament -- Georgia Tech won that one, too -- was supposed to be a defensive battle. The Yellow Jackets limit opponents to less than 39 percent shooting, while Boston College is right around the 40 percent mark.

But while each team harassed the other, stuck hands in faces and generally made a nuisance of itself, both shot better than 48 percent. Georgia Tech even made its first six shots on its way to an early 16-5 lead.

An 18-6 run spanning halftime gave the Yellow Jackets a 44-33 lead with 16:15 left. But Boston College refused to go quietly, tying the game at 53 on Dudley's 3-pointer with 2:48 left.

``You can't tell me when we were down double digits in the second half that anyone thought we'd have a one-point lead with 30 seconds to go,'' Boston College coach Al Skinner said. ``We put ourselves in position to win, and that's all you can ask.''
(9) DePaul (23-6) vs. (1) Tennessee (27-3)
Game Info: 9:00 pm EST Mon Mar 22, 2004
Leon County Civic Center (Tallahassee, FL)

Pat Summitt knows Ashley Robinson can carry Tennessee to its seventh national championship.
The senior center hopes to prove her Hall of Fame coach right as the Lady Vols continue their drive to the title in a second-round matchup with DePaul.

Robinson helped Tennessee storm past Colgate 77-54 in Saturday's opening-round game. She had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in 22 dominating minutes, bouncing back nicely from a dismal performance in last week's SEC tournament semifinals, when she managed two points in a loss to Georgia.

``When she plays at that level, we are a team that can go to another level,'' Summitt said of Robinson. ``This is an athlete we are going to continue to see.''

Robinson scored 11 first-half points as Tennessee coasted to its 33rd consecutive win in first- and second-round play in the NCAA tournament.

``I just wanted to play well on the offensive end today because I usually do a pretty good job on the defensive end,'' Robinson said. ``I feel like the last few games I haven't played up to my potential.''

Though the Lady Vols have won a record six national titles, they are seeking their first crown since 1998. Tennessee, which has been in the tournament every year since 1982, is playing the opening rounds on the road for the first time.

Summitt believes they have adjusted well thus far.

``They were on top of it,'' she said. ``That just speaks to their focus. They knew it was the postseason.''

DePaul entered the tournament on a four-game losing streak, but stopped its skid with Saturday's 83-46 rout of George Washington. Charlene Smith scored 24 points and Khara Smith added 16 for the Blue Demons, who advanced past the first round for the fourth time in school history.

``It's been five weeks tomorrow since we've had a victory,'' DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. ``So for them to come out and resurrect their ability to play the way we played in the early part of the season was absolutely huge. I can't tell you how proud I was of them because of their ability to stay strong through this adversity.''

The Blue Demons won 18 of their first 19 games this season, with the lone loss during that stretch coming in a 96-89 overtime setback to Tennessee in Chicago on Dec. 17.

Robinson was the key factor in that matchup, scoring 16 of her 18 points after halftime, including the game-tying basket in regulation and the first two points of overtime.

The Lady Vols have won all 14 previous meetings in the series.

The winner meets Florida or Baylor in the regional semifinals next Sunday in Norman, Okla.

PROBABLE STARTERS: DePaul - F Khara Smith (20.8 ppg, 11.9 rpg), F Sarah Kustok (6.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg), F Charlene Smith (17.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg), G Jenni Dant (14.3 ppg, 3.1 apg), G Ashley Duke (12.7 ppg, 4.7 apg). Tennessee - F LaToya Davis, (4.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg), F Shyra Ely (15.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg), C Robinson (8.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg), G Tasha Butts (10.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), G Shanna Zolman (12.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: DePaul - At-large berth; beat George Washington 83-46, first round. Tennessee - At-large berth; beat Colgate 77-54, first round.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: DePaul - 4-8, 9 years. Tennessee - 81-16, 23 years.
(3) Pittsburgh 59, (6) Wisconsin 55
March 21, 2004

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- If anybody knows how to quiet a crowd it's the Pittsburgh Panthers.

They muffled the pro-Wisconsin horde at the Bradley Center with a 59-55 victory over the Badgers on Sunday in the second round of the East Rutherford Regional.

``We've been in hostile environments before. It's just basketball,'' said sophomore guard Carl Krauser, who led Pitt with 16 points.

The third-seeded Panthers (31-4) will play Oklahoma State (29-3) in the regional semifinals. The Cowboys beat Memphis 70-53 earlier Sunday.

Pittsburgh was a bit chafed at having to play what amounted to a home game for the sixth-seeded Badgers, who only had to travel 75 miles up Interstate 94.

The Panthers needn't have fretted.

They improved to 12-3 away from home, a record that includes victories over Syracuse in front of more than 31,000 at the Carrier Dome and over Georgetown at the earsplitting MCI Center.

``Truthfully, I was surprised. They weren't booing us as loud as playing against Syracuse or Providence,'' forward Chris Taft said. ``That's where we get the most boos. This was nothing.''

Nothing like the crazed crowds in the Big East, said Chevon Troutman, whose 14 rebounds helped hush the house.

``These people are really nice up here,'' he said.

The game pitting two Top 10 teams was befitting next weekend's regional semifinals and proved that a low-scoring, defensive oriented contest could be exciting.

Pittsburgh shot 36 percent to the Badgers' 35 percent, and it was anybody's game until the closing seconds when Pittsburgh made all the crucial plays.

With wider, more athletic players inside, the Panthers outrebounded the Badgers by nine and held a 15-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

``We've played teams that are big. But these guys are big, strong and active all the time,'' Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said. ``We thought we could bang, we thought we could hang.''

They thought wrong.

Devin Harris scored 21 points for the Badgers but none after his 3-pointer gave Wisconsin a 40-37 lead at the 12-minute mark. He finished the season with a school record 624 points, four more than Michael Finley scored in 1993.

``Shots that I was hitting in the first half just weren't falling in the second half,'' Harris said. ``I had three or four turnovers in that stretch. That's how they got ahead and they stayed on top.''

Krauser put the Panthers up for good at 54-52 with an aggressive drive to the basket that could easily have sent him to the bench with five fouls.

``We needed that basket and I definitely didn't have a fear of picking up a foul,'' Krauser said. ``I was just trying to get to the basket and score. If you're worrying about your next foul, you are not going to get the job done.''

After the Badgers pulled to 56-55 on Boo Wade's follow-up 3-pointer on a dish from Harris with 21 seconds left, Krauser was fouled in the backcourt and sank both shots for a three-point lead.

The Badgers couldn't get a good look from beyond the arc, but Ryan never used one of his two timeouts and Zach Morley was off target on a short, open jumper with five seconds left.

Jaron Brown grabbed the rebound and Clayton Hanson fouled him with three seconds remaining. Brown missed the first but sank the second to send the Big East regular-season champions into the round of 16 for the third straight year.

``The plan was, in our huddle, to have him miss both of them,'' Ryan said. ``It didn't happen.''

The Badgers (25-7) set a school record for wins this season but that was of little consolation to the red-clad crowd that had expected to help lift their team past the Panthers.

The teams met in the 1941 NCAA tournament at the UW Field House in Madison, and the Badgers won 36-30 on their way to their only national championship.

The Badgers credited the crowd for helping them survive an upset bid by Richmond in the opener. But the Panthers, whose three road losses are by a combined seven points, kept the Badgers from getting any advantage from playing in the hometown of three Wisconsin starters.

``The fans were great. We were fortunate to play here,'' Badgers center Mike Wilkinson said. ``We just didn't get the job done.''

The Badgers led 48-44 with 5:47 left when the Panthers scored seven straight points to take control and the crowd began heeding the lonely sign in the Pittsburgh section that read simply, ``Shhhh...''

March 21, 2004

(1) Tennessee 77, (16) Colgate 54
March 20, 2004

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Ashley Robinson had a big game at the right time for Tennessee.

Robinson had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in 22 minutes, helping the top-seeded Lady Vols begin their quest for a seventh national title with an easy 77-54 victory over Colgate in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.

``When she plays at that level, we are a team that can go to another level,'' coach Pat Summitt said. ``This is an athlete we are going to continue to see.''

Robinson bounced back from a disappointing effort in the SEC tournament semifinals against Georgia two weeks ago, when she scored only two points in a 68-66 overtime loss.

With the 6-foot-5 Robinson leading the way, the Lady Vols (27-3) used their height advantage and depth to build a 46-24 halftime lead. Tennessee advanced to play DePaul -- an 83-46 winner over George Washington -- on Monday in the Midwest Regional.

``We knew we were outmatched, undersized,'' Colgate coach Beth Combs said. ``But we had to stick to what we knew our players were confident in. We did what's worked for us all year.''

Robinson scored 11 first-half points and forced Colgate's shooters to change their shots.

``I just wanted to play well on the offensive end today because I usually do a pretty good job on the defensive end,'' she said. ``I feel like the last few games I haven't played up to my potential.''

Tyesha Fluker and Sidney Spencer each added 12 points and Shanna Zolman 11 for the Lady Vols, who shot 48.6 percent for the game.

Tennessee has been in the NCAA tournament every year since it began in 1982. Though the Lady Vols have won a record six national titles, they are going for their first one since 1998.

Against Colgate, it never really was a contest. Tennessee opened a 29-14 lead 10 minutes into the game and took a 22-point halftime lead after shooting 55.6 percent in the first half. Meanwhile, the 16th-seeded Raiders (21-10) shot 20.6 percent after making just seven of 34 shots.

``We didn't shoot well, which had a lot to do with the tremendous defense of Tennessee,'' Combs said.

Colgate, which earned an automatic bid out of the Patriot League, ended the game shooting 25.7 percent and had 12 of its shots blocked. Milaina Lagzdins led the Raiders with 13 points and Malissa Burke added 10.

``Coach just told us to keep going at it stronger and stronger,'' Colgate's Emily Braseth said. ``If they block it, just take it up stronger. We knew what we had to do.''

Tennessee twice led by as many as 28 in the second half.

The NCAA tournament committee picked Tennessee as the top overall team despite losses to Connecticut and Texas at home and in the semifinals of the SEC tournament. But they were sent on the road for the first time for a first-round NCAA game.

That did not matter to the Lady Vols or their orange-clad fans, who dominated an otherwise sparce crowd of 2,287 in Florida State's 12,000-seat home arena.

Summitt said being on the road made her team even more committed to playing well.

``They were on top of it,'' Summitt said. ``That just speaks to their focus. They knew it was the postseason.''

March 20, 2004

(16) Colgate (21-9) vs. (1) Tennessee (26-3)
Game Info: 11:00 am EST Sat Mar 20, 2004 - Leon County Civic Center (Tallahassee, FL)

Tennessee is undefeated in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
The top-seeded Lady Vols will try extend that amazing streak when they face Colgate in the first round.

Tennessee has won 32 straight games in the first two rounds, and is an imposing foe for the first-time Raiders.

``Our players grew up watching (Tennessee coach) Pat Summitt and watching Tennessee,'' said Colgate coach Beth Combs. ``This is the culmination of all our hard work, to be able to play one of the best programs perennially in the country.''

Facing the Raiders for the first time, Summitt says she advised her team against taking its untested opponent for granted, mindful that any team can beat another, especially in tourney play.

``They play really well together,'' Summitt said. ``They do a good job of getting the ball inside and kicking out. They're very strong in their half-court offense, and that (kind of offense) has hurt us all season.''

Colgate (21-9) beat American 71-60 in the Patriot League title game to win its first conference championship. Now the Raiders are hoping to make the most of their first trip to the tournament.

``Having the chance to play Tennessee is like a dream come true,'' said Colgate senior co-captain Malissa Burke. ``Really, we have nothing to lose. If anything, Tennessee is the one who should be nervous. They don't want to lose to a team that's never been to the tournament before.''

The Lady Vols, looking to win their seventh national title and first since 1998, have a harder road than usual just to get to the Midwest Regional games in Norman, Okla.

For the first time, Tennessee is not hosting first- and second-round games even though it earned the top overall seeding. Instead of going to Chattanooga, about 100 miles south of Knoxville, the Lady Vols are off to Florida. Tennessee already has beaten eight teams this season that were placed in the Midwest.

``A lot of what postseason is about is playing your best basketball at the right time of the year,'' Summitt said. ``We are in store for some of the most exciting games in the history of our tournament.''

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colgate - F Milaina Lagzdins (7.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg), F Leandra Fuller (7.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg), G Emily Braseth (16.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), G Chigozie Ozor (8.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg), G Burke (14.7, 3.4 apg). Tennessee - F LaToya Davis, (4.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg), F Shyra Ely (15.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg), C Ashley Robinson (8.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg), G Tasha Butts (10.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), G Shanna Zolman (12.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Colgate - Automatic bid, Patriot League champion. Tennessee - At-large berth.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Colgate - First appearance. Tennessee - 80-16, 22 years.
(3) Pittsburgh 53, (14) UCF 44

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Well this certainly wasn't the kind of game anyone expected from Pittsburgh.

Usually crisp and cool -- not to mention good -- Pittsburgh played its worst game of the season Friday night, barely managing to hold off scrappy Central Florida 53-44 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Panthers shot a season-worst 29.5 percent, and had their fewest field goals (13) and assists (seven). Carl Krauser led Pittsburgh with 18 points and Chevon Troutman added 13 on 5-for-5 shooting, but the rest of the squad went 4-of-26.

The victory was Pittsburgh's 30th this season, a school record, and fans threw blue-and-gold confetti as the final buzzer sounded. But it's safe to say the Panthers (30-4) won't be devoting too much attention to this one in the record books.

Much had been made of Pittsburgh only getting a third seed. But if Central Florida wasn't equally inept, shooting less than 31 percent, the Panthers would likely be heading home.

Instead, they advanced to the second round of the East Rutherford regional where they'll play sixth-seeded Wisconsin on Sunday. The Badgers beat Richmond 76-64.

The 14th-seeded Golden Knights (25-6) have one victory over a Top 25 team and are 0-for-3 in the NCAA tournament. But it seemed as if this might be their night, especially with the Wisconsin crowd jumping on their bandwagon. Whenever the small contingent of Pittsburgh fans started chanting, ``Let's go Pitt!'' they were quickly drowned out by the Central Florida and Wisconsin fans.

Roberto Morenti's layup with 10:07 left gave the Golden Knights a 36-33 lead, but their already sputtery offense fell apart from there. They made just one field goal the rest of the way, while Pittsburgh outscored them 20-8 in the final 10 minutes.

It helped that the Panthers finally got their offense going. Pittsburgh has four players -- Krauser, Julius Page, Jaron Brown and Chris Taft -- who average in double figures, but Krauser was the only one getting it done Friday. He scored 12 of Pittsburgh's first 13 points in the second half, and the Panthers didn't get a field goal from anyone else until Troutman's driving layup with 5:28 to play.

Page finally hit a 3-pointer with 2:25 left after missing 10 of his first 11 shots. The basket was a big one, too, putting Pittsburgh comfortably ahead 43-38. The Golden Knights tried to mount a last comeback, but they didn't have the energy.

Or the offense.

March 18, 2004

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