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How sweet it is

Colorado State survives to advance to first-ever Sweet 16

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Posted: Monday March 15, 1999 01:58 AM

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Becky Hammon had 30 points, making 16 of 17 free throws, as Colorado State earned its first trip to regional semifinals with an 86-70 victory over Southwest Missouri State in the NCAA Tournament Sunday night.

Heather Haanen added 21 points for the second-seeded Rams, who nearly blew a 19-point lead in the final 12 minutes and won despite making just five field goals -- one in the last eight minutes -- in the second half.

The teams combined for four baskets and shot 38 free throws in the game's last six minutes. Colorado State was 22 of 28 from the line in that stretch and 38 of 48 for the game.

Colorado State (33-2) will play the winner of Monday's Kentucky-UCLA game in the West Regional semifinals in Los Angeles.

Jackie Stiles, the nation's second-leading scorer at 25.6 points per game, finished with 28 for seventh-seeded Southwest Missouri State (25-7). All 12 of her first-half points came consecutively, and she scored 16 of the Bears' final 19.

Colorado State, which has won 21 straight home games, led by 17 at halftime and were ahead 57-38 with 12:11 remaining, but Southwest Missouri State used a 17-4 run over the next 6:20 to pull within six.

The Bears held Colorado State without a field goal for 5:38 and got as close as 66-61 before the Rams went on an 11-2 run that essentially turned the game into a free throw shooting contest the rest of the way.

The much anticipated matchup of star point guards was slow to materialize as Hammon didn't score until 8:37 into the game and Stiles got her first points on two free throws a minute later.

The free throws pulled Southwest Missouri State to 23-18, but Hammon scored nine straight points as part of 16-4 run that gave Colorado State a 39-22 lead with 1:53 left before halftime.

While Stiles accounted for the Bears' final 12 points of the half, Hammon had 16 and got help from Haanen, who had 14 by the break and hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Rams a 45-28 advantage.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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