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NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Now Florida A&M (15-16) Has Sights Set on Kentucky

March 17, 2004|From Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio — Terrence Woods, the nation's most prolific three-point shooter, found his touch in the second half Tuesday, leading Florida A&M to a 72-57 victory over Lehigh in the play-in game.

After losing 10 of their first 11 games, the Rattlers (15-16) found themselves celebrating the school's first NCAA tournament victory.

They are the only team in the tournament with a losing record.

"This is a monumental day for Florida A&M," Coach Mike Gillespie said. "One more time for all the people who say we don't belong here: I'm not going to apologize. We earned our way here."

The Rattlers travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a first-round game Friday against Kentucky, hoping to do better than their play-in predecessors.

Northwestern State, Siena and North Carolina Asheville fell hard in first-round games against top-seeded teams, losing by an average of 26 points.

"As for Kentucky, they put their shoes on just like we do," Woods said. "I feel we have a chance, just like we did against Lehigh."

Lehigh (20-11) had little chance once Woods, who bruised a thigh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic tournament on Saturday and couldn't practice before the play-in game, got in rhythm.

Woods' stride and his shot got better as the game progressed and he finished with 21 points, including five three-point baskets.

"Once I got loose, I felt OK," Woods said. "In the second half, I felt a whole lot better."

Lehigh led for less than a minute in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1988. The Patriot League winner fell to 0-14 in the NCAA tournament.

Woods led Division I with 139 three-point basket last season, the fourth-highest total in NCAA history. He led the nation again this season with 129, shooting 39.8% from behind the arc.

Florida A&M had almost as many three-point shots as free throws, but its offense was tame until Woods got rolling.

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