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Oakland in NCAA Tournament for first time

TULSA, Okla. -- Pierre Dukes became an unlikely hero for an
improbable NCAA Tournament team.

Dukes' only shot of the second half was a 3-pointer with 1.3
seconds left and Oakland upset top-seeded Oral Roberts 61-60
Tuesday night to win the Mid-Continent Conference tournament and
make the NCAAs with a 12-18 record.

The seventh-seeded Golden Grizzlies are in the tournament for
the first time since becoming a Division I program eight seasons
ago. It's the fourth straight season a team with a losing record
has made the NCAA Tournament.

Oakland (Mich.) took possession after Jonathan Bluitt hit one of
two free throws to make it 60-58. Rawle Marshall passed it to Dukes
on the left side, and his shot splashed through the net.

"When I got it, I looked at the clock and there wasn't enough
time to get it back to him, so I figured I'd let it fly," said
Dukes, a 35 percent shooter from 3-point range who almost didn't
even make the team.

Ken Tutt's desperation shot after a deflected inbounds pass
banked high off the rim, and Oral Roberts' players hung their heads
and clutched their knees while the Golden Grizzlies huddled and
celebrated near midcourt.

"I'm just numb," Oral Roberts guard Luke Spencer-Gardner said.
"I'm not really feeling all that much. I'm just shocked. This
isn't the way it was meant to be."

Cortney Scott scored 19 points and Marshall scored 18 for
Oakland, which had lost to Oral Roberts twice during the regular
season.

The Golden Grizzlies started the season 0-7 against a murderous
schedule that included Illinois, Xavier and Missouri. But they
finished the season with five straight wins, three in the
conference tournament.

"We had to play the perfect game and we did," Kampe said.

It also took a surprising star.

"I can't tell you how happy I am for Pierre Dukes," Kampe
said. "He wasn't going to play for us. On Sept. 1, he was not
going to be on our team. Then we had some problems and I talked to
him and said, 'Why don't you come out?"'

Caleb Green scored 13 points and Tutt added 12 for the Golden
Eagles (25-7), who were seeking their first NCAA Tournament
appearance in 21 years. The Golden Grizzlies concentrated on
eliminating Green with triple-teams and Oral Roberts struggled from
the outside, hitting 7 of 19 from 3-point range.

"They slowed the game down and got Marshall the ball and we
just never could speed it up to the level that we needed," Oral
Roberts coach Scott Sutton said.

Andrew Meloy scored 10 points for Oral Roberts -- all during a
10-2 run that put the Golden Eagles ahead 16-13 midway through the
first half.

The Golden Eagles led 28-27 at halftime, but had to overcome an
eight-point second-half deficit to take the lead before Dukes'
game-winner.

The Golden Grizzlies led 42-34 after coming out of halftime on
an 17-6 run, fueled by Scott inside and Marshall driving the lane.
Scott converted a three-point play to open the half and added three
more free throws during the run. Marshall hit a pair of jump shots
and drove the lane for two more baskets.

Oral Roberts charged back with a 9-2 run capped when Green took
a pass from Tutt, whirled around Oakland's David Ritzema and scored
to make it 44-43.

After that, the lead changed five times and the teams were tied
four times before Spencer-Gardner's two free throws put the Golden
Eagles ahead 59-57 with 2:20 to play.

Scott hit one of two free throws to bring Oakland within a
point, and Bluitt's answer at the other end left an opening for
Oakland to get the win.

"I'll never forget this game as long as I live," Sutton said.
"It's a very devastating loss."

The NCAA Tournament hopes for Oral Roberts, which won the
Mid-Continent's regular season title, are sketchy at best. No
Mid-Continent team has been an at-large selection to the NCAA
tournament, but the Golden Eagles have an 81-63 win against
Georgetown on their resume.

"I don't think there's much of a chance," Sutton said.