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NIT : Georgetown Rallies, Will Face Minnesota

From Associated Press

The National Invitation Tournament is one that gives teams a second chance. At New York’s Madison Square Garden on Monday night, Georgetown and Alabama Birmingham played as though they didn’t deserve one.

The Hoyas scored only 14 points during the first half, but came back from a 17-point deficit and held the Blazers scoreless for the final nine minutes. The result was a 45-41 victory for Georgetown and a spot in Wednesday night’s final against Minnesota.

“Do you mean to tell me we had 41 points with nine minutes left and didn’t score?” Blazer Coach Gene Bartow, shaking his head, asked no one in particular.

The Blazers (20-14) had only five points over the last 14:40, attempted only two shots and had five turnovers in the last nine minutes. It was quite a turnaround for the Blazers, who used a 16-4 run bridging the first and second halves to open a 31-14 lead.

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Georgetown then extended its press, trapped at midcourt and looked for the quick shot. The changes paid off as the Hoyas went on a 20-5 run capped by Eric Micoud’s two free throws to tie the score, 41-41.

“Once we got behind, that dictated our defense, and we went after them more aggressively,” Georgetown Coach John Thompson said. “Our kids did a great job of coming back. In the first half we were too tentative, we weren’t penetrating at all. I told them to get more aggressive in the second half.”

The Hoyas (20-12), who reached 20 victories for the 15th time in 16 seasons, were led by Othella Harrington with 11 points. Robert Churchwell, Duane Spencer and John Jacques added eight apiece. Stanley Jackson had 11 points and Corey Jackson and Robert Shannon 10 each for the Blazers.

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Minnesota 76, Providence 70--Voshon Lenard scored 17 of his 25 points during the second half as Minnesota rallied to beat the Friars.

The Gophers (21-10) overcame an 11-point deficit during the second half and used a late 9-0 run to pull away from the Friars (20-12).

The spark was provided by Lenard, a sophomore guard who made nine of 12 shots, including four of seven from three-point range. After making two long-range shots early in the second half, Lenard scored 11 more points, allowing Minnesota to wipe out Providence’s double-digit lead.

“When you have a guy with a hot hand, you go to him,” said Lenard, the Gophers’ top scorer with a 16.9 average.

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Minnesota Coach Clem Haskins said making the NIT final has helped ease the sting of not being invited to the NCAA tournament.

“This makes up for it a great deal,” he said.

After Providence’s Michael Brown made two free throws to tie the score, 67-67, with 3:40 remaining, Minnesota scored nine consecutive points on free throws.


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