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Updated: Saturday, March 22, 2003 7:42 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(3) Marquette 101, (6) Missouri 92 (ot)
MISSOURI TIGERS
Missouri Tigers
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MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
Marquette Golden Eagles
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INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Freshman Steve Novak was perfect in overtime. So was Marquette for that matter.

The 6-9 Novak converted three 3-pointers in the extra session to lead the third-seeded Golden Eagles to a 101-92 victory over sixth-seeded Missouri in a Midwest Region game and a trip to the "Sweet 16" for the first time in nine years.

Marquette (25-5) hit all six of its shots from the field and at the free throw line in overtime and will meet the winner of Sunday's game between Pittsburgh and Indiana in the regional semifinals.

Missouri (22-11), which reached the West Region final as a 12th seed last year, went on a 12-4 run in the final 5:08 of regulation to tie the game at 80-80.

But Marquette was perfect in the overtime, hitting 3-of-3 inside the arc, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the free throw line for 21 points.

"I've never seen a team play as well as we did in overtime," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "I thought our execution on the offensive end couldn't have gotten any better."

"I have never witnessed a team shoot 100 percent in overtime," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said.

Novak accounted for all three 3-pointers, getting it started with a jumper from the left corner 22 seconds into the overtime.

After freshman Jimmy McKinney responded with a 3-pointer for Missouri, Novak struck again with 3:54 left to give Marquette the lead for good at 86-83. Novak's third 3-pointer of the overtime with 2:02 remaining increased the advantage to 93-89.

"Going into overtime, I came in and they called a couple of plays for me," said Novak. "At our shootaround yesterday the coaches ran a drill of what we call last-second shots and it paid off. I was able to knock them down today."

Novak's third 3-pointer of the overtime ignited a decisive 11-0 run for the Golden Eagles.

"We put a hand in his face but he (Novak) was able to make the big shots," Snyder said.

Scott Merritt converted a layup inside with 1:01 left before Travis Diener made four free throws and Dwyane Wade added a pair in the final 47 seconds to open the lead to 101-89.

Marquette shot 57 percent from the field for the game, made 12-of-18 3-pointers and was 19-of-20 from the line.

"It is tough to play a team that shoots 66 percent from the three and gets 20 points from the line," Snyder said.

Rickey Paulding led Missouri with a career-high 36 points, including 9-of-15 from 3-point range.

Paulding had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but lofted a shot from the top of the key that fell short.

"I grabbed the rebound and I wanted to push the ball up the court as quick as I could," Paulding said. "I had a good look, it just came up short."

Arthur Johnson provided power inside with 28 points and a season-high 18 rebounds, but three of Missouri's starters - Ricky Clemons, Travon Bryant and McKinney combined to shoot 4-of-27 from the field. Clemons, the Tigers' second-leading scorer at 15.7 points, had just five on 2-of-15 shooting, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range. Bryant missed all six of his shots and went scoreless in 27 minutes.

"Shots just did not go down for them (Clemons, McKinney and Bryant) today," Johnson said. "It wasn't frustrating because all year they have knocked down those shots. Today they were just off."

Wade, the Conference USA Player of the Year with a 21.7 scoring average, played a superb all-around game with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and received plenty of help from his teammates.

Diener, the sophomore point guard who missed practice time before the NCAA Tournament due to shin splints, was again a major force with 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. He had a career-high 29 points, including five 3-pointers, in the 72-68 win over Holy Cross in the first round.

Merritt had 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including a layup and a dunk in overtime, and seven rebounds and Novak finished with a "perfect" 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench on 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and 2-of-2 from the line.

"When you have guys like Steve who can come in off the bench and hit big shots, that's a big lift," Wade said.

The Golden Eagles last reached the "Sweet 16" in 1994, losing to Duke in the regional semifinals.

Marquette shot 63 percent (15-of-24) in the first half when it opened a 41-31 lead. While the Golden Eagles had balanced scoring, Paulding and Johnson accounted for 22 of Missouri's 31 points.

A pair of free throws by Wade gave the Golden Eagles their biggest lead at 47-35 with 17:29 left.

Marquette had what appeared to be a comfortable 76-68 advantage after a layup by Merritt with 5:22 left, but Johnson and Paulding led Missouri went on a 10-2 run over the next 4:19.

Johnson had a three-point play and a layup and Paulding converted a pair of free throws before tying the game, 78-78 with a 3-pointer with 1:03 left.

Wade scored on a jumper in the lane to give Marquette an 80-78 lead with 33 seconds remaining, but Missouri tied it again when Johnson converted a pair of pair of free throws with 19 seconds left after being fouled by Wade.

Wade missed a shot in the lane with six seconds remaining and Paulding grabbed the rebound, dribbled upcourt and was short on a shot from the top of the key.

"They kept battling, give them credit," Diener said. "They never gave up and forced the overtime. We just made some more plays than they did."


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