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Ball St. 98, South Florida 92
Posted: Wednesday March 13, 2002 02:59 AM
South Florida
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Ball St.
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MUNCIE, Indiana (Ticker) -- Chris Williams led a parade from the foul line and led Ball State into the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.

Williams made 14 free throws and scored a career-high 40 points as Ball State rallied for a 98-92 victory over South Florida in an NIT first-round game.

A 6-3 junior who was averaging 15.0 points a game, Williams drilled six 3-pointers and was 10-of-19 from the field. He also made 14-of-16 attempts from the free-throw line, where the Cardinals (21-11) outscored South Florida, 35-5.

"Chris responded in a way we needed him to on both ends of the floor," Ball State coach Tim Buckley said. "It was not just his scoring, but he was aggressive all around tonight." Theron Smith added 26 points and 10 rebounds and Billy Lynch had 10 points and six assists off the bench for Ball State, which settled for an NIT bid despite a 20-win season that included victories over Kansas and UCLA.

With a first-ever NIT win under their belt, the Cardinals will face Saint Joseph's in the next round.

Altron Jackson had 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting for South Florida (19-13), which had a 48-16 scoring edge in the paint but could not make up the discrepancy at the line. Reggie Kohn and B.B. Waldon added 18 points apiece for the Bulls.

"I haven't been in many games where the opponent scored 35-of-42 from the line," Bulls coach Seth Greenberg said. "We hit 13 more field goals than then. Thirty-five of 42 is the difference in the game. We just put them at the line too many times." A dunk by Will McDonald extended South Florida's eight-point halftime lead to 49-39. But Smith scored 10 points in a 17-4 run that put Ball State in front, 56-53.

The game was tied three times before the Cardinals made seven free throws during a decisive 17-1 burst that featured 3-pointers by Lynch, Patrick Jackson and Smith. Smith's shot from beyond the arc gave Ball State a commanding 80-63 lead with 6 1/2 minutes left.

A 3-pointer by Waldon got the Bulls within 96-92, but it came with just two seconds to play.

"They just outplayed us in the second half," Greenberg said. "We're not tough enough, plain and simple. We were not coming up with the critical rebound and we didn't defend the way we need to defend. ... We hit the wall." .

 


 
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