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COLLEGE BASKETBALL NOTES

Florida A&M Finding Its Place

March 16, 2004|From Associated Press

Florida A&M is the only team in the NCAA men's basketball tournament with a losing record, but Coach Mike Gillespie is making no apologies.

"We belong here. I don't care what our record is," said Gillespie, whose 14-16 team has lost to teams such as Florida, North Carolina State and Marquette. "We did play extremely well this year at Marquette, at Georgia. I thought we played very well against Florida."

Florida A&M faces Lehigh (20-10) in today's play-in game to determine the 16th-seeded team in the St. Louis Regional. The winner will play Kentucky on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.

Florida A&M reached the tournament by beating Coppin State, 58-51, Saturday to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship. The Rattlers last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1999.

Lehigh hasn't played in the NCAA tournament for 16 years. The Bethlehem, Pa., school defeated American, 59-57, Sunday to win the Patriot League. Freshman guard Jose Olivero sank a leaning shot with 3.9 seconds remaining for the go-ahead points.

Florida A&M is led by Terrence Woods, a transfer from Tennessee who averages 21 points per game. He made 129 three-point shots this season, most in the nation.

Woods bruised his thigh during Saturday's game against Coppin State while running through a screen. He did not practice Monday and is questionable for today's game.

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Travis Diener scored 21 points and tied a career high with 12 assists to lead Marquette over Toledo, 87-72, Monday night at Milwaukee in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. The Golden Eagles (18-11) are the first team since Minnesota in 1998 to drop into the NIT after making the Final Four a year earlier.

"If you're a competitor and you love to play the game, then this is the time of year no matter what you're doing," Marquette Coach Tom Crean said. "We have to see where it can lead us."

Marquette will play host to either Rice or Wisconsin Milwaukee or Nevada Las Vegas or Boise State next week in the second round.

"There's 65 teams playing in the NCAA field this year and we're not one of them," said Diener, who made eight of 15 shots, had seven rebounds and only one turnover. "There are remarkable teams playing in the NIT this year, though."

Toledo (20-11) made nine of its first 15 shots in the second half, then went more than eight minutes without a field goal.

Keith Triplett scored 20 points for the Rockets.

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In the NCAA Division II women's tournament, unbeaten Seattle Pacific eliminated Cal Poly Pomona, 80-63, in the West Regional final in front of 1,598 at Seattle.

Seattle Pacific (30-0), which shot 47.2% (25 for 53) overall, made 60% (12 for 20) of its three-point shots. Pomona (23-7), which shot 33.8% (23 for 68) overall, made 12.5% (one for eight) of its three-point shots.

Amy Taylor's 21 points and Valerie Gustafson's 14 points led Seattle Pacific. Gustafson was voted the regional's most outstanding player.

Pomona was led by Marisa Lattin's 20 points and Candice Allen's 16 points. Allen and teammate Keila Beachem were chosen for the all-tournament team.

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In other news, it remained uncertain whether Murray State juniors Kelvin Brown and Adam Chiles were on the team after their arrests Saturday on charges involving possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Murray State plays Illinois Friday at Columbus, Ohio.... Steve Lappas will remain at Massachusetts with a restructured contract that includes incentives based on attendance and the team's record.... Arkansas guard Kendrick Davis and forward Wen Mukubu will not return to the Arkansas basketball team, according to Coach Stan Heath, who gave no reason for his decision.

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