NATIONAL INVITATION TOURNAMENT : When Majerus Gets Angry, Utah Loses to Notre Dame

From Associated Press

Daimon Sweet sank two free throws with nine seconds left after a technical foul on Utah Coach Rick Majerus, helping Notre Dame beat the Utes, 58-55, Monday in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at New York.

In the final Wednesday, the Irish (18-14) will play Virginia, a 62-56 winner over Florida in the other semifinal.

Utah (23-11), which trailed by 14 points in the first half, took its only lead of the game when Phil Dixon's three-pointer with 34 seconds remaining put the Utes ahead, 55-54.

But on Notre Dame's next possession, Majerus went wild after a foul was called on Utah's Paul Afeaki for pushing LaPhonso Ellis. Majerus pounded his fist and threw a clipboard on the scorer's table, earning him a technical from referee John Cahill.

Ellis then made one of two free throws and Sweet converted both technical foul shots to put the Irish ahead, 57-55.

Following two timeouts, Notre Dame's Elmer Bennett was fouled on the inbounds play and hit one of two free throws to make it 58-55.

"I feel bad," Majerus said of his costly outburst. "I was wrong and I cost my team the game. It (the technical) was deserved. I lost control."

However, Majerus insisted that the foul call that triggered the technical was a bad one. Ellis dribbled the ball off his foot as the foul was called, and a Utah player picked it up.

"I thought Ellis hit the ball off his foot and we covered it," Majerus said. "It's a shame that the game has to be decided by that kind of call."

Asked if he was angry at the officials, who had called a technical on the Utah bench earlier in the second half, Majerus said, "I'm not going to ask any of them on a camping trip this summer."

Notre Dame Coach John MacLeod, who used to coach the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, defended the crucial call.

"I thought he got bumped, and I was looking right at the play," MacLeod said. "The official had no one in front of him to block his view and there was no hesitation in blowing the whistle."

Virginia 62, Florida 56--Bryant Stith scored 27 points and led a late run that sent Virginia (19-13) past Florida (19-13).

Stith, the school's all-time scoring leader, had 10 points as Virginia overcame a 49-45 deficit in the final nine minutes.

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