Ala. provides final answer

Seconds after S. Illinois takes lead, Pettway wins it for Crimson Tide, 65-64

Ncaa Reginal

Phoenix

March 19, 2004|By Robyn Norwood | Robyn Norwood,LOS ANGELES TIMES

SEATTLE - Coach Mark Gottfried and the Alabama Crimson Tide got their "upset."

Alabama survived a comeback by Southern Illinois, 65-64, when Darren Brooks missed a 17-foot jumper at the buzzer in a first-round NCAA tournament game yesterday at KeyArena.

Alabama's Antoine Pettway had given the Tide the lead with only five seconds left on a runner in the lane - and that shot came only eight seconds after the Salukis' Brooks drove for a go-ahead basket with 13 seconds left.

Alabama (18-12) led by 10 at halftime, but Southern Illinois made eight of 12 three-point shots in the second half to make it close.

It was fitting that it was such a back-and-forth finish. It was a classic No. 8-vs.-No. 9 game, with the margin between the teams slim.

Gottfried - whose father, Joe, once coached at Southern Illinois - contended before the game that eighth-seeded Alabama was actually the underdog.

"When you look at it, the only reason people think we were the favorite is because we play in the [Southeastern Conference] and they play in the Missouri Valley," Gottfried said after the game. "It's nothing other than that if you look at their record and their wins, and they've been to the Sweet 16 [in 2002]."

Brooks was terrific for Southern Illinois (25-5). He finished with 25 points - including 5-for-5 from three-point range.

"I'm telling you, Brooks would be a great player in the SEC," Gottfried said.

But it was Pettway, who scored only six points in the game, who made the big shot - his third clutch shot of the season. He had a game-winning three-pointer at Georgia, and his three-pointer against Arkansas tied the game and sent it into overtime before the Tide went on to win.

"I don't know if we've got anybody on the team we'd rather take that shot," said Earnest Shelton, who led Alabama with 18 points.

Gottfried had a timeout left after Southern Illinois went ahead by one, but he preferred not to let the Salukis' defense get set.

"We've been in this situation before," Pettway said. "[Kennedy Winston] found me and I pump-faked and shot a little runner."

Salukis center Sylvester Willis tried to stop the shot, but couldn't. "He just floated it up there as high as he could," Willis said. "I hit the ground and looked up and it went in the net. Just like a dagger."

Southern Illinois inbounded the ball, but with the Salukis not yet in the bonus, Alabama's Chuck Davis committed a foul at half court to stop the clock and force the Salukis to start a play on the sideline with 2.8 seconds left.

They got the ball to Brooks. "The shot looked good when it left my hand," he said. "But it started going to the left when it got closer to the rim, so I knew it probably wasn't going in."

Stanford 71, Texas-San Antonio 45: A little bit of history was made in the Cardinal's first-round appearance.

No, a 16th seed still has never beaten a No. 1, though Texas-San Antonio gave it a run for a while. But for the first time in his life, Josh Childress was asked for an autograph by an opposing cheerleader.

"I don't know what to say, I can't say that has happened before," said Childress, who had 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in the victory.

Still, with 12 minutes to go, the crowd of 15,512 at KeyArena was rocking. Some of them smelled upset: Stanford's lead was only six.

The aptly nicknamed Roadrunners (19-14) were speedy and played hard, grabbing 22 rebounds from Stanford on the offensive boards.

When John Millsap's tip-in cut Stanford's lead to 44-38 with 12:15 left, it looked like nervous time.

"I think amongst us we told each other to keep our heads, keep our poise," guard Matt Lottich said. "We knew it would come back to us."

Childress, the silky 6-foot-8 swingman, took over. He fed Rob Little for a dunk, then made back-to-back three-pointers, and the lead was 14.

Stanford (30-1) stepped up its defense and continued on a 14-0 run for a 58-38 lead.

"We got it to six and the place was going nuts and then the timeout was made," said Texas-San Antonio coach Tim Carter, whose team was led by LeRoy Hurd's 18 points. "We just couldn't hit shots after that."

Buffalo, N.Y.

Connecticut 70, Vermont 53: Rashad Anderson scored 22, and Emeka Okafor had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Huskies (28-6).

Connecticut, the Big East champion and second seed in the regional, will play DePaul in the second round. The Huskies improved to 12-0 in first-round games under Jim Calhoun, who won his 30th tournament game.

T.J. Sorrentine led Vermont (22-9) with 19 points.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Regional highlights

Top performer: Syracuse's Gerry McNamara scored 43 and was 9-for-13 on three-pointers.

Big surprise: Maryland, a 63 percent foul-shooting team coming in, hit eight of its final nine free throws.

He said it: "My career is over. I don't care about points. I don't care about any of that. We just lost." - Senior Brad Korn after Southern Illinois' second straight first-round loss, both coming by one point

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