McMurray helps lift Bowie St. into semis

Late three, free throws drop J.C. Smith, 65-63

February 28, 2003|By James Giza | James Giza,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

RALEIGH, N.C. - Cornelius McMurray sure knows how to pick his spots.

After hitting just free throws the entire game, the former Southwestern High standout drained a three-pointer from the left wing with 36 seconds left in the game then hit a pair of free throws with 19 seconds to go as the Bowie State men's basketball team defeated Johnson C. Smith, 65-63, in the quarterfinals of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament last night.

"You have to step up for the big shots," said McMurray, the team's starting point guard, said. "And that's what I'm in there for. I know my role."

With the win at RBC Center, the Bulldogs (24-4), ranked No. 18 in Division II and No. 2 in the South Atlantic Region, advanced to the semifinals where they will meet North Carolina Central today at 7 p.m.

Bowie senior forward Tim Washington terrorized the Golden Bulls down low, scoring 17 points and collecting 17 rebounds. Guard Vernon Benjamin led the Golden Bulls (20-8) with 25 points.

The Bulldogs served notice they are on a mission to capture their first conference tournament championship.

"It was a tough game," Bowie State coach Luke D'Alessio said. "It could have gone either way, but we made the plays we needed to make down the stretch and that's because of our senior leadership."

After a hot start by the Bulldogs, the Golden Bulls began to dominate the action, using a 20-2 run to take a 31-25 lead into the break.

Benjamin followed his 11-point first-half performance with a pair of jumpers as the Golden Bulls opened the half with a 14-9 run to go up 45-34.

But the Bulldogs suddenly seemed to regroup, patiently attacking the Golden Bulls' interior defense and finally reclaiming the lead 49-48 on a three-point play by backup guard Allen Van Norden with 9:16 left. Van Norden then hit a three-pointer with 7:06 to go that gave the Bulldogs a 54-50 cushion.

Both teams went cold from the floor before the Golden Bulls hit six straight free throws to recapture the lead 56-54 with 3:16 left. But Bulldog Stephen Moss-Kelley hit a three-pointer at the 1:50 mark, setting up McMurray's heroics.

JOHNSON C. SMITH-Fulton 1-3 2-2 5, Benjamin 6-16 11-13 25, Hinton 5-10 1-2 14, Spears 2-7 1-2 5, Martin 2-4 0-0 4, Douglas 0-1 0-0 0, Chasten 2-6 4-4 8, McCotter 0-0 0-0 0, Clyburn 1-5 0-0 2, Newkirk 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-52 19-23 63.

BOWIE STATE-McMurray 1-7 4-4 7, J. Smith 3-6 1-3 7, O. Smith 3-9 0-0 8, Washington 4-8 9-13 17, Moss-Kelley 4-11 2-4 14, Van Norden 2-4 3-3 8, Hampton 1-6 0-0 2, Lewis 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 18-53 21-29 65.

Half: Johnson C. Smith, 31-25. Rebounds: JCS 37 (Spears 8); BS 37 (Washington 17). Assists: JCS 8 (Hinton 6); BS 16 (McMurray 7). A: n/a.

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