Drake beats Illinois State for first Missouri Valley tourney title Print
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Sunday, 09 March 2008 23:43
NCAAB Headline News


 Drake concluded a stunning turnaround from college basketball also-ran to conference champion.
The Bulldogs' 79-49 rout of Illinois State on Sunday gave Drake its first postseason title in the 32-year-old Missouri Valley tournament - and kept the season going, too.
``We've never come close to the NCAA tournament, or the NIT for that matter,'' conference tournament MVP Adam Emmenecker said. ``This is the big deal.''
Sure is. And the No. 20 Bulldogs are one of five schools with automatic bids to the NCAAs, joining Austin Peay (Ohio Valley Conference), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Cornell (Ivy League), and Winthrop (Big South).
It's Drake's first trip to NCAAs since 1971 and first postseason bid of any kind since making the NIT in 1986.
Emmenecker, also the regular-season Valley MVP and a former walk-on, capped a dazzling weekend with 16 points and six assists.
``We thought that maybe by his senior year he could start for us,'' coach Keno Davis said. ``But I never had any idea he could do this.
``He's exceeded all of our expectations, kind of like our team has.''
Jonathan Cox had 20 points and Klayton Korver added 10 for Drake (28-4), which shot 55.6 percent and became the first school to sweep the regular-season and tournament titles since Creighton in 2002.
Elsewhere Sunday among ranked teams, it was No. 4 Tennessee over South Carolina 89-56; No. 9 Texas 62, Oklahoma State 57; No. 13 Connecticut 96, Cincinnati 51; No. 15 Purdue 72, Michigan 58; Ohio State 63, No. 17 Michigan State 54; Penn State 68, No. 18 Indiana 64 in overtime; No. 22 Gonzaga 52, Santa Clara 48; No. 24 Clemson 70, Virginia Tech 69; and No. 25 Davidson 82, UNC Greensboro 52.
No. 20 Drake 79, Illinois State 49
At St. Louis, the Valley title game matched rookie head coaches from programs picked to finish near the bottom of the conference.
A 19-0 run late in the first half allowed the celebration to commence early.
``What we do is awfully tough to defend,'' Davis said. ``When we can put shooters around the 3-point line, teams have a tough time trying to figure out what to take away.
``And Adam, what can you say? He just does it all.''
No. 4 Tennessee 89, South Carolina 56
Chris Lofton scored 28 points, including six 3-pointers. JaJuan Smith fouled out with 17 points and four 3s, receiving a hearty standing ovation from the home crowd on his and Lofton's final home games as Volunteers.
The 33-point loss was the worst of the season for South Carolina, which took its second worst when the Vols won 80-56 in Columbia in January.
It was the final regular season game for South Carolina coach Dave Odom, who will retire after a 22-year head coaching career following the SEC tournament.
No. 9 Texas 62, Oklahoma St. 57
D.J. Augustin scored 20 points and the Longhorns captured a share of the Big 12 regular-season championship, clinching the top seed in the league tournament because of a victory over co-champion Kansas in February.
Damion James added 13 points and 18 rebounds for host Texas (26-5, 13-3), making four free throws in the final 36 seconds to maintain the lead. After the game, Texas players hoisted the trophy at midcourt.
Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris each scored 12 points for the Cowboys.
No. 13 Connecticut 96, Cincinnati 51
Stanley Robinson scored 18 points and had eight rebounds in a game postponed a day because of a Midwest snowstorm. Hasheem Thabeet had eight blocks and 15 points.
The Huskies put it away with a 30-0 run in the first half, holding the visiting Bearcats scoreless for nearly 11 minutes.
No. 15 Purdue 72, Michigan 58
E'Twaun Moore and Keaton Grant each scored 17 points, and Purdue put together a 21-4 run midway through the second half to finish alone in second in the Big Ten.
The visiting Boilermakers (24-7, 15-3) finished off their best regular season in a decade by winning 14 of the last 16 games.
DeShawn Sims scored 19 for the Wolverines (9-21, 5-13).
Ohio St. 63, No. 17 Michigan St. 54
Jamar Butler said goodbye to the home crowd with 20 points and the Buckeyes closed the game with a 15-2 run to enhance prospects of an NCAA berth.
Raymar Morgan had 19 points for Michigan State.
Penn State 68, No. 18 Indiana 64, OT
David Jackson tied the game in regulation with a 3-point play and hit a decisive shot in overtime to help Penn State overcome Eric Gordon's 26 points.
Stanley Pringle hit one of two foul shots to put Penn State up 67-64 with 15 seconds left in overtime. Armon Bassett missed a 3 from the wing, and Pringle lunged out of bounds to try to save the ball but ended up throwing it to Gordon.
The Indiana freshman, known for his 3-point shooting, missed a 3 to tie.
No. 24 Clemson 70, Virginia Tech 69
At Clemson, S.C., freshman Demontez Stitt hit two free throws with 3.8 seconds left, and the Tigers locked up third place in the ACC, their best since 1990.
The Hokies led 69-68 after Deron Washington tipped in A.D. Vassallo's miss with 9 seconds left. But Stitt drove and was fouled by Vassallo with 3.8 seconds to go.
Vassallo had 23 points and Allen added 12 rebounds and 11 points for Virginia Tech.
Terrence Oglesby led the Tigers with 17 points.
No. 25 Davidson 82, UNC Greensboro 52
At North Charleston, S.C., Stephen Curry had 26 points and the Wildcats won their 21st straight game to reach the Southern Conference tournament championship.
Davidson (25-6) owns the country's longest win streak and has taken its past 35 games against SoCon opponents, including this year's 20-0 romp through the regular season.
The Wildcats will try for their fourth crown since 2002 and fifth under Bob McKillop against Elon.
No. 22 Gonzaga 52, Santa Clara 48
At San Diego, Josh Heytvelt scored 15 points and Gonzaga advanced to its 11th straight West Coast Conference tournament title game. Gonzaga (25-6) has won four consecutive WCC tournament titles, eight of nine and nine of the last 13.
The Bulldogs made only five baskets in the second half, but survived by going 13-for-16 from the foul line. They will play San Diego in the championship.
 

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