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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

Nov. 24, 2006

Loyola Marymount - 88
Pacific - 85


Anchorage, AK - Senior Brandon Worthy did it again. The fifth-year senior, exactly one week after hitting a miraculous game winner over New Mexico State, hit a three-pointer with two seconds remaining to send the game to double overtime where the Lions pulled away from the University of the Pacific in the first semifinal of the 2006 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout, 88-85, on Friday night.

The Lions improve to 5-1 on the season, winning four straight for the first time since they opened 2003-04 with five straight wins. LMU has now defeated a pair of teams who went to the NCAA tournament a year ago in Pacific and Oral Roberts.

"Wow," said Head Coach Rodney Tention. "We played hard against a very, very good opponent. We never gave up. From the middle of the first half on our defense was the difference. It created opportunities for us."

Worthy is showing why many have him as a preseason All-American as he equaled a career-best 32 points on 10-for-16 shooting as his steal and layin with 26 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 65-65 and sent it to the first overtime.

"Worthy is our leader," said Tention. "He showed why once again tonight. He hit that three against New Mexico State to win that one and he did it again tonight. His shot tonight was big."

Then down by three after Steffan Johnson hit one of two free throws with 20 seconds remaining to make 74-71, the Lions worked the ball to Worthy, who got a screen from senior Matthew Knight to get just enough daylight to burry the three.

In double overtime the Lions scored the first four points and a jumper by Knight and a drive by Worthy to go up 78-74. Pacific, who has advanced to the last three NCAA tournaments, tied it at 78-78, the eighth tie of the game. Knight would hit a pair of free throws, followed by Worthy's pair of free throws to go up 82-78.

Pacific's Michael White hit one of two to make it 82-79 with 1:05 remaining. The Lions then made it 84-79 on a jumper by Derick Grubb thanks to a perfect pass by John Montgomery. However, on the next defensive possession, Worthy was called for his fifth foul with 20 seconds remaining.

LMU managed without him as Jon Ziri, Adoyah Miller each hit one of two free throws to keep the lead at two possessions, 86-82 with seven seconds remaining. Johnson would hit a three to make it 86-85 with just two seconds on the clock. Montgomery was fouled and drilled both free throws and they sophomore Corey Counts stole the Tigers next inbound to secure the win.

Knight finished with 16 points and Miller set a career-best with 16 off the bench. Grubb added 14 for the Lions. Anthony Brown had 17 points and 10 rebounds while Michael White had 20 and eight to lead Pacific. Johnson added 19 and Anthony Esparza had 14 and eight. The overtime effort by the Lions and Worthy overshadowed the work they had to do to get back into the game. The Lions fell down 23-6 with 12:22 remaining and managed to cut it to 40-31 at the break. They then trailed by 14, 53-39, with 16:16 remaining when Johnson hit a lay-up in transition.

However, like they have done several times already this season, the Lions clamped down on defense as Pacific did not get another field goal until 4:10 remaining in the regulation. Until then, the Lions went on a 22-5 run in a span of 12:06 to take their first lead since 2-0 when Worthy hit an old fashion three-point play with 5:06 remaining.

The Lions advance to play in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout at 10 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, Nov. 25. The game will be on ESPN2 and on Lions' All-Access.


Butler - 79
Gonzaga - 71


NEW YORK, NY - A.J. Graves scored 26 points and Butler, despite not making a field goal over the final eight minutes, beat Gonzaga 79-71 on Friday night in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Butler (6-0) won the battle of the Bulldogs by going 23-for-26 from the free throw line, including making 16 of 18 over the final 3 1/2 minutes after Gonzaga (5-1) had cut an 18-point deficit to as few as six.

Derek Raivio had 20 points to lead Gonzaga, which advanced to the title game at Madison Square Garden by beating No. 2 North Carolina 82-74 in the semifinals.

While it was free throws that sealed the win, it was 3-pointers that got Butler off to a 43-29 halftime lead.

Butler, which beat No. 22 Tennessee 56-44 in the semifinals, had nine 3-pointers in the first half, their average for a game so far this season. Julian Betko made all three of his long-range attempts in the first half as Butler went 9-for-22.

Graves, who was 2-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half, made two of his five 3-point attempts in the second half, the second one giving Butler a 60-45 lead with 9:39 to play.

Betko's desperation jumper from just outside the foul line as the shot clock expired with 8:00 left was Butler's last field goal of the game and it gave the Bulldogs a 62-45 lead. Brian Ligon's free throw 30 seconds later gave Butler its biggest lead.

Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga's big man who was limited to six points in eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, started an 8-0 run for Gonzaga with a three-point play. Raivio capped it with a 3 and two free throws, but Graves started Butler's free throw parade with 3:32 left. He went 6-for-6 from the line the rest of the way and Mike Green made all eight of his free throws down the stretch.

Gonzaga was able to get within seven points five times and six once, 77-71 with 14 seconds left, but Butler just kept making free throws.

Green finished with 16 points for Butler and Betko had 13.

Heytvelt finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Gonzaga.Butler had already beaten a team from the Big East, the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

The Bulldogs capped the tournament Friday night with a 79-71 victory over Gonzaga, a team that might not have the conference pedigree of their other victims but still has an impressive recent history.

"Every game that we played we have had tremendous respect for our opponent, and when you do that, you prepare well and you stay very in tune," Butler coach Todd Lickliter said. "We'd like to always do that, but when you're playing Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee and Gonzaga, it's pretty imperative that you concentrate and try to execute and do all the little things."

Butler excelled at doing the little things that allow "mid-major" programs to compete, and beat, teams from the power conferences.

The Bulldogs went 23-for-26 from the free throw line, including 16-for-18 over the final 3 1/2 minutes, committed seven turnovers and allowed more than 70 points for the first time in the four-game tournament, 42 in the second half.

"Butler outplayed us in any facet and every facet that I can possibly think of involved in basketball," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

A.J. Graves scored 26 points for Butler (6-0), which won the battle of the Bulldogs despite not making a field goal over the final eight minutes as Gonzaga (5-1) cut an 18-point deficit to as few as six.

"We didn't get too excited when we beat IU. We enjoyed the night and moved on and we'll do the same tonight," Graves said. "We've got games ahead of us. We've for the whole season ahead of us and we've just got to keep moving forward."

Derek Raivio had 20 points to lead Gonzaga, which advanced to the title game at Madison Square Garden by beating No. 2 North Carolina 82-74 in the semifinals.

While it was free throws that sealed the win, it was 3-pointers that got Butler off to a 43-29 halftime lead.

Butler, which beat No. 22 Tennessee 56-44 in the semifinals, had nine 3-pointers in the first half, their average for a game so far this season. Julian Betko made all three of his long-range attempts in the first half as Butler went 9-for-22.

Graves, who was 2-for-8 from beyond the arc in the first half, made two of his five 3-point attempts in the second half, the second one giving Butler a 60-45 lead with 9:39 to play.

Betko's desperation jumper from just outside the foul line as the shot clock expired with 8:00 left was Butler's last field goal of the game and it gave the Bulldogs a 62-45 lead. Brian Ligon's free throw 30 seconds later gave Butler its biggest lead.

Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga's big man who was limited to six points in eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, started an 8-0 run for Gonzaga with a three-point play. Raivio capped it with a 3 and two free throws, but Graves started Butler's free throw parade with 3:32 left. He went 6-for-6 from the line the rest of the way and Mike Green made all eight of his free throws down the stretch.

Gonzaga was able to get within seven points five times and six once, 77-71 with 14 seconds left, but Butler just kept making free throws.

"We'll score, we don't care how we score," Lickliter said. "If we score at the line, that's fine with us. We don't care. I thought we shot a few 3s down the stretch that were a little b it frightening, but that's who we are I guess. They were open. I hate to tell guys who can make them not to shoot them."

Green finished with 16 points for Butler, a member of the Horizon League, and Betko had 13.

Heytvelt finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for Gonzaga, which is in the West Coast Conference.

"Two fouls took me out of the game at the beginning but it didn't change my mind-set at all," Heytvelt said. "Butler did a great job on defense and offense, how they executed. I don't think those two fouls really affected the game. Butler just came out firing and they beat us."