NAIA: Concordia defeats Robert Morris in 4 OTs
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 Worthy.
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 semifinals.
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.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press