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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Washington Ouster Makes It Pac 1

March 20, 2004|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The team that took down Stanford got its comeuppance in the NCAA tournament.

Demario Eddins scored a career-high 26 points and made the decisive plays in the closing seconds Friday night, leading Alabama Birmingham to a 102-100 first-round victory over Washington.

The game ended well past midnight, leaving a crowd that included former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson drained by the nonstop drama.

"One of my first expressions would be: `Wow, what a game!" Alabama Birmingham Coach Mike Anderson said. "I had a feeling it would be entertaining, but to give up 100 points and win ... This team has continued to amaze me."

Eddins, a sophomore forward who usually is more of a complementary player, took the lead down the stretch.

He took a charge that negated a basket, hit two free throws with 16.2 seconds left and blocked a shot, sending the Blazers (21-9) to their first tournament victory since 1986.

Alabama Birmingham will play top-seeded Kentucky (27-4) Sunday in the second round of the St. Louis Regional. The Wildcats advanced with a 86-76 victory over Florida A&M.

"It seems the bigger the moment, the better he plays," Anderson said. "He showed it all tonight."

Maurice Finley made a free throw with 1.3 seconds left for the final margin, then missed his second attempt. Brandon Roy got the rebound and made a full-court heave that bounced off the top of the backboard.

"Honestly, I was just praying between the free throws," said Finley. "I knew it was going to come down to free throws. We were fortunate to make a few more than they did."

Washington (19-12) stopped Stanford's unbeaten streak at 26 games on March 6, part of a late-season surge that got the Huskies back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

"I told them that when the dust settles and the emotion of the loss is behind you, understand that we made significant progress this year," Coach Lorenzo Romar said.

The Blazers, making their first tournament appearance in five years, broke a streak of four consecutive first-round losses.

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