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Southland Semifinals Recap

March 11, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Southland Conference Semifinals Recap

Recap by Paul Oren

On paper, in every conference tournament, you’d expect the number one and number two seeds to advance to the championship, and for the first 39 minutes in both Southland Conference Semi-Final contests, it appeared as if that perception would be reality. But that’s why the games are 40 minutes.

No. 3 Texas San-Antonio 87, No. 2 Southeastern Louisiana 85
With 25 seconds left in the game, Southeastern Louisiana was rolling, up 85-81 over Texas-San Antonio. Freshman Kurt Attaway then scored two of his career-high 24 points to pull the Roadrunners to within two at 85-83. Amir Abdur-Rahim was then whistled for a push off foul and the ball was given back to UTSA. Abdur-Rahim then committed his second foul in as many possessions as he fouled Justin Harbert during a three-point attempt. Harbert connected on all three free throws to give UTSA a 86-85 lead, their first lead of the second half, and a lead they would not relinquish. The Lions Jonathon Walker was then fouled, but missed both free throws with 3 seconds left, and after a Harbert free throw, Nate Lofton, who had 15 points and 22 rebounds for the Lions, missed a 10-foot bank shot and the Roadrunners advanced to the Southland Championship game.

“I told the guys in the locker room that great character always finds a way to win, and I believe that,” said UTSA coach Tim Carter. “There were so many plays that could have gone the other way tonight but didn’t. Somehow we found a way to win.”

The Lions were playing in their first Southland Tournament since joining the conference in 1997-98 and completed their best season in 30 years at 20-9.

“For 39 minutes, we played really well,” Southeastern head coach Billy Kennedy said. “Like I told our guys, unfortunately it’s a valuable lesson we had to learn off the floor … ‘life is not fair.’ To play 39 minutes so well, and then for one minute we didn’t.”

No. 4 Stephen F. Austin 69, No. 1 Texas-Arlington 68
For the second year in a row, the Lumberjacks from SFA are heading back to the SLC Tournament Championship game, but for a while, it didn’t appear that it was going to happen. Down 5 points in the final :22 seconds, the Lumberjacks went to the long ball to pull out the victory.

Sophomore Marcus Clark nailed a three pointer with 22 seconds left to cut the lead to 68-66, and after the Mavericks Jarret Howell missed the front-end of a one-in-one, the Lumberjacks Dedrick Sanders grabbed the rebound, raced up the court, dishing it off to the nation’s second leading three-point shooter, Antonio Burks, who calmly sank a shot with 4.9 seconds left to give SFA the 69-68 advantage. UTA was unable to get a shot off in the final seconds.

“I thought it was a great college basketball game,” said SFA coach Danny Kaspar. “There were a lot of experienced seniors on the floor at the end of the game and both teams gave everything they had to win the game. We were able to get the ball to Antonio’s hands and he made a great play to win.”

SFA was led by Sanders with 20 points and 7 rebounds. Derrick Obasohan, who missed a half-court shot at the buzzer, led all scorers with 22 points for the Mavericks. Burks’ game-winning shot was his 76th three pointer of the year, tying SFA’s single-season record.

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