Gonzaga tops Cincinnati, 61-59, in overtime

November 27, 2009|By Sports Digest

LAHAINA, Hawaii — — %HTMLlat1; %HTMLsymbol; %HTMLspecial; ]> sp.digest27.ARTGonzaga tops Cincinnati, 61-59, in overtime

College basketball Maui Invitational final
Associated PressLAHAINA, Hawaii - Thanks to several big plays by 7-footer Robert Sacre, Gonzaga left Maui with a championship at last.

Sacre scored 14 points and the Bulldogs won the Maui Invitational for the first time in three tries, beating Cincinnati, 61-59, in overtime Wednesday night at the Lahaina Civic Center.

"Obviously, this is the pinnacle and the creme de la creme of all the preseason tournaments. This is the kingpin and any other analogy you'd like to use. That's why it's so special," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "When you look up and you see all those teams that have won this thing, and what they've accomplished maybe after they won this thing, it makes you feel great for your guys."

With the Bearcats clinging to a 55-53 lead with 43 seconds left, co-tournament Most Valuable Player Steven Gray - who shared the honor with senior Matt Bouldin - held the ball as long as the shot clock would allow before feeding Sacre in the paint for a one-handed floater with 16 seconds left.

Sacre then came up even bigger - and higher - on the defensive end, hustling back down the court to defend Cincinnati's final play, run without a timeout.

After playing a little too far up with Lance Stephenson draining the final seconds at the top of the arc, Sacre eventually dropped back to cover Yancy Gates, who charged along the right baseline and caught Stephenson's alley-oop pass with just seconds remaining, attempting to flush it home for the championship.

Sacre, though, timed his jump perfectly and swatted the ball out of Gates' hands, sending the game to overtime.

It was Gonzaga's first championship at Maui after losing to Connecticut, 65-63, in the 2005 title game and finishing fourth in 2002.

Stephenson led Cincinnati (4-1) with 15 points.

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