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C-USA Tournament roundup

Wade struggles as UAB topples top-seeded Marquette

Posted: Thursday March 13, 2003 3:37 PM
Updated: Friday March 14, 2003 11:16 AM

 
Thursday's action
Eric Bush
Eric Bush, right, tied a record with six steals. AP

Other Games
Memphis 62, South Florida 56
Louisville 82, Tulane 66
Saint Louis 69, Southern Miss 56

Wednesday's Games
USM sinks Cincy, USF advances

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Eighth-ranked Marquette is out of the Conference USA tournament thanks to its most error-plagued performance of the season.

Eric Bush scored 17 points and tied a Conference USA tournament record with six steals to lead Alabama-Birmingham to an 83-76 upset of the top-seeded Golden Eagles in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night.

Morris Finley scored 23 points and Demario Eddins added 16 points and five steals for the Blazers (18-11), who set a tournament record with 20 steals.

UAB will face Saint Louis in Friday's semifinal.

The Golden Eagles committed a season-high 30 turnovers, also a tournament record.

"It was just a matter of us not being strong with the ball," said Marquette point guard Travis Diener, who led his team with 19 points. "I don't know how many teams are going to win with 30 turnovers. That's way too high. We've got to fix that, and fix it quick."

Marquette defeated UAB 98-87 just 12 days ago, overcoming 21 turnovers by holding the Blazers to 39 percent shooting.

The Blazers were much more accurate in the rematch, going 29-of-57 from the field (51 percent), the best shooting performance against Marquette this season.

"None of us are shocked. We knew we could compete with them," said Bush, UAB's point guard, who also had five assists.

Dwyane Wade, the conference's player of the year, set a tournament record with 10 turnovers as Marquette (23-5) lost for just the second time in 17 games.

UAB coach Mike Anderson said the loss earlier this month helped the Blazers Thursday.

"Playing Marquette a little more than a week ago gave us some familiarity with them," Anderson said. "We had nothing to lose coming into this game. Our guys were not afraid. Our guys are believers, they came out and executed the game plan."

Despite the sloppiness, Marquette still had a chance to win the game in the final minutes.

Diener sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:20 left to give the Eagles their first lead of the second half, at 74-73.

The lead changed hands three times before Marquette center Robert Jackson stepped on the baseline with 50.6 seconds left.

Bush drove into the lane and made an acrobatic one-hander with 29 seconds left to put the Blazers up 79-76.

Finley then stole a lazy pass by Wade in the backcourt and was fouled.

Bush tugged at his jersey and flexed his muscles before Finley iced the win with two free throws with 20.7 seconds remaining.

"We knew they were a very good team, but it's really hard for them to play that many minutes against the way we played," Bush said. "It was a matter of wear and tear toward the end, and we prevailed."

The Golden Eagles were lucky to trail only 40-36 at halftime after committing 15 turnovers in the first half. Marquette had fewer than 15 turnovers in 20 games this season.

Marquette stayed close by outrebounding the Blazers 22-13 in the first half and hitting five of its first 10 3-point shots.

Marquette outrebounded UAB 38-22 for the game.

Wade sank two free throws with 2:22 left before halftime to cut UAB's early lead to 31-28. The conference's leading scorer had only four points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first half. He finished 3-of-12.

Finley hit his first 3-pointer of the game 30 seconds after Wade's free throws and Eddins made a steal and scored on a breakaway layup to extend the lead to eight.

Diener sank a pair of 3-pointers to close the gap again, but Derrick Broom was fouled after UAB's 11th steal of the first half and sank two free throws with one second left.

The ninth-seeded Blazers are the lowest seed to reach the tournament semifinals since 2000, when ninth-seeded Saint Louis made it. The Billikens went on to win the tournament.

Marquette coach Tom Crean insisted his team wasn't looking past the Blazers.

"There was no underestimating the opponent," said Crean, the league's coach of the year. "We've had excellent practices. For some reason, we did not play as well as we needed to at the beginning. Even as we came back, they played just a little bit better."

Memphis 62, South Florida 56

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Chris Massie had 18 points and 11 rebounds, his 15th double-double of the season, as No. 16 Memphis overcame poor shooting to beat South Florida 62-56 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

Rodney Carney added 18 points and Antonio Burks had eight assists for the Tigers (23-5), who won their 12th straight game and advanced to the tournament semifinals for the third time in four seasons.

The Tigers went 19-of-53 from the field (36 percent) and 7-of-22 from 3-point range (32 percent). But their man-to-man defense held South Florida to 21-of-59 shooting (36 percent), including 1-of-15 from 3-point range (7 percent).

Will McDonald had 16 points and nine rebounds for South Florida (15-14), which lost for the sixth time in nine games.

Reggie Kohn, who hit seven 3-pointers in South Florida's 76-74 win over DePaul on Wednesday, went 0-for-8 from 3-point range against Memphis. Kohn scored 11.

Massie, who dealt with constant double-teams, scored twice inside to give Memphis its biggest lead, at 53-47, as the clock went under four minutes.

The Tigers struggled with South Florida's 1-2-2 zone defense the entire game and went more than two minutes without a field goal after Massie's basket in the lane with 4:05 left.

McDonald's putback with 2:12 left drew South Florida within one, at 54-53. But Jeremy Hunt sank a 3-pointer from the wing -- his only basket of the game -- and the Tigers went 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the win.

The Tigers will play Louisville in Friday's semifinals.

The Bulls hit eight of their first 16 shots and led 20-14 early.

The Tigers turned to their inside game during a 12-3 run. Anthony Rice missed a free throw, but Massie corraled the rebound and found Rice open in the corner for a 3-pointer that cut South Florida's lead to 21-20.

McDonald scored for South Florida, but Burks was fouled on an off-balance layup, then hit the ensuing free throw to tie the game at 23-all.

The teams combined for only three field goals in the final 4:30 of the first half and were tied 30-30 at the break.

South Florida scored 11 points off nine Tiger turnovers, but shot only 36 percent (12-of-33) in the first half.

Louisville 82, Tulane 66

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Reece Gaines scored 15 points and Luke Whitehead had 11 points and 11 rebounds as No. 20 Louisville beat Tulane 82-66 in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament on Thursday.

Francisco Garcia scored 15 and Otis George added 14 for the Cardinals (22-6), who will play No. 16 Memphis (23-5) in Friday's semifinals. The Tigers beat South Florida 62-56 earlier Thursday.

Waitari Marsh scored 17 and Brandon Brown and Nick Sinville added 12 points each for Tulane (16-15), which committed a season-high 25 turnovers.

Stone forced to sit again
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville center Marvin Stone sat out the Cardinals' 82-66 win over Tulane in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament Thursday as the NCAA continued to investigate him.

The school announced the decision less than an hour before tipoff.

The 6-foot-10 Stone, a senior transfer from Kentucky and former Huntsville, Ala., prep star, has missed three of Louisville's past four games. The Cardinals have won all three of them.

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    The Green Wave shot 53 percent (26-of-49), but Louisville scored 28 points off the turnovers to win for just the third time in seven games.

    Louisville senior center Marvin Stone, the team's third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, sat out for the third time in four games as the NCAA investigates whether he accepted any illegal benefits earlier in his career.

    The game did not draw a capacity crowd at Freedom Hall, but Louisville fans outnumbered Tulane's cheering section by several thousand.

    The Green Wave silenced the noisy crowd early by hitting four of their first five shots and taking an 8-3 lead.

    Louisville came back to tie it at 10-10 tie, and the Cardinals built a seven-point lead as the Green Wave's turnovers began to mount.

    But the Cardinals went the final four minutes of the first half without a field goal, and Marsh's off-balance jumper over Gaines force a 31-31 halftime tie.

    Tulane led 43-40 when George dunked with 15:09 left to trigger a 14-0 run. Consecutive 3-pointers by Gaines and George after Tulane turnovers sent the lead to double-digits four minutes after George's dunk.

    Tulane committed 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the second half as the Cardinals' full-court pressure wore down the Green Wave's guards.

    Ivan Pjevcevic sank a 3-pointer and Marsh scored on a drive to cut the deficit to 62-52, but the Green Wave got no closer.

    Garcia, a freshman, sank a 3-pointer from the wing out of a Louisville timeout, and a steal by Gaines led to Whitehead's putback with 4:27 to go. Gaines and George each had three of Louisville's 14 steals.

    The Cardinals won their tournament opener for the second straight year after two consecutive opening-round defeats.

    Saint Louis 69, Southern Miss 56

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Freshman Anthony Drejaj went 10-of-11 from the field and scored a season-high 27 points as Saint Louis beat Southern Mississippi 69-56 Thursday night in the Conference USA tournament quarterfinals.

    Marque Perry added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists for the fourth-seeded Billikens (16-12), who won their eighth straight game.

    Charles Gaines scored 19 points and Jasper Johnson added 15 for Southern Mississippi (13-16), which has lost 13 of 16.

    Saint Louis will play ninth-seeded Alabama-Birmingham in Friday's second semifinal. The Blazers (18-11) upset No. 8 Marquette 83-76 earlier Thursday.

    The Billikens opened their game with a 23-3 run, hitting nine of their first 12 shots.

    Southern Miss, meanwhile, missed seven of its first eight shots and had three turnovers in the opening eight minutes against the league's best defense.

    But the Golden Eagles gradually chipped away at Saint Louis' lead, holding the Billikens to one field goal over a six-minute span.

    Saint Louis led 33-16 at halftime, but Southern Miss hit five of its first six shots in the second half during a 13-2 run.

    The Billikens rebuilt an eight-point lead, but Perry twisted his right knee making a cut and left the game with 11:20 remaining.

    Jasper Johnson, the hero of the Eagles' 63-61 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday night, hit a turnaround jumper a minute later to draw Southern Miss to 43-39.

    The Billikens pushed the lead to nine, but Johnson scored seven straight points to trim the deficit to 48-46 by the seven-minute mark.

    Perry sank a free throw and Drejaj made a 3-pointer from the wing to rebuild Saint Louis' lead.

    The Eagles didn't make a serious run again, failing to reach the tournament semifinals for the seventh time in eight years.

     
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    Stewart Mandel: Marching in with a limp
    Cincinnati upset by Southern Miss in C-USA tourney
    SI.com's NCAA Bubble Watch: March 13
    NCAA benches Louisville's Stone for Tulane game
    Stats
    UAB-Marquette Box Score
    South Florida-Memphis Box Score
    Tulane-Louisville Box Score
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