KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Levi Luster scored the go-ahead bucket
with a minute left in the fourth overtime, and Concordia ousted
top-seeded and previously unbeaten Robert Morris (Ill.) 124-119 on Monday
night in the semifinals of the NAIA tournament.
Keith Lawrence, whose off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer forced
the fourth overtime, made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds
left that gave Concordia a 122-119 lead in the second-longest game
in the 70-year history of this small-college championship.
Luster finished with 29 points.
Concordia's Terrence Worthy, at 5-foot-8 the shortest player in
the game, forced the second overtime with a long 3-pointer with 1.5
seconds left that made it 88-all and then made the third extra period
necessary when he drove the lane for a short runner that tied it
98-98 at the buzzer.
Bidding to be the first unbeaten team to win the title since
1992, Robert Morris trailed 76-65 at the 3:27 mark in regulation
right after its best player, Taylor Freeman, fouled out with 16
points and 18 rebounds.
But the Eagles outscored Concordia 14-3 the rest of the way and
Anton Palmer's contested layup at the with 14 seconds left forged a
79-79 tie and sent the game, destined to be an NAIA classic, into
its first overtime.
Palmer was fouled with 16 seconds to go in the second overtime
but missed both free throws, giving the ball back to Concordia and
Worthy drove in for the second time for the tying bucket to keep
the game going.
Concordia (31-6) of Irvine, Calif., also got 20 points from
Lawrence, 16 each from Rafael Da Silva and Josh Kramer, and 15 from
Luster also had 12 rebounds for Concordia, the 2003 NAIA
champion and 2004 runner-up.
Melvin Council had 22 points for Robert Morris (32-1), which had
not lost since bowing 94-92 to Oklahoma City in the 2006
Jimmie Miles had 20 points and John Winchester and Palmer had 16
for Robert Morris, which held a 69-52 rebound advantage.
Nathan Klitzing's two free throws with 0.4 left gave Concordia
its final points.
At the end of the first overtime, Robert Morris' Reggie George
rebounded Da Silva's errant 3-pointer and was immediately fouled.
He stepped to the foul line for the first time all night and canned
two, putting Robert Morris on top 88-85 with 10.9 seconds left.
Concordia quickly hustled the ball down court and Worthy, left
wide open, connected from just beyond the arc.