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North Carolina Asheville Does Its Best Work in Overtime

March 19, 2003|From Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio — Andre Smith looked into his teammates' eyes and knew that the game was resting on his shoulders.

"We got in the huddle and my teammates said, 'It's your time,' " Smith said after scoring 10 of his 28 points in overtime to extend sub-.500 North Carolina Asheville's season with a 92-84 play-in victory over Texas Southern on Tuesday night.

Smith came right out as the overtime began and almost immediately made a three-point basket -- and the Bulldogs (15-16) never trailed again.

"When it got to overtime, just as we got back to the bench, some of the coaches said, 'Are we going to lose in overtime?' " Smith said. "We said we wouldn't. That's just been our motto."

Asheville, the only team in the tournament with a losing record, received a dubious prize for advancing. The Bulldogs next play top-seeded Texas in the first round of the South Regional on Friday in Birmingham, Ala.

That game will reunite Texas Coach Rick Barnes and Asheville's Eddie Biedenbach, who gave Barnes his first coaching job when he was at Davidson in 1978.

"The people who are playing great right now are the ones who are enjoying basketball and having fun," Biedenbach said. "We're one of those teams right now, and so is Texas."

Bryan McCullough had 15 points, Alex Kragel made three second-half three-point baskets and finished with 14 points, Ben McGonagil had 12 points and Joseph Barber 11 for Asheville, which is playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time.

The Bulldogs are the unlikeliest of NCAA entrants. They ended the regular season with four consecutive losses before storming through the Big South postseason tournament 10 days ago.

Allan Lovett, who started his college career at Asheville, led Texas Southern (18-13) with 28 points and 14 rebounds.

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