NEW YORK (AP) -- After an up-and-down season, the Michigan
Wolverines have a chance to win a championship.
Courtney Sims scored 18 points to help Michigan beat Old
Dominion 66-43 on Tuesday night and advance to the finals of the
NIT for the second time in three years.
"It's a different feeling because we had to overcome a lot of
things," said senior point guard Daniel Horton, who had 10 points
for the Wolverines.
"We're back to the three H's [healthy, happy and hungry] that
coach talked about. When we got those three we're a better team."
Michigan (22-10) ended the run of one of the two Colonial
Athletic Association teams that were still playing in the
postseason. George Mason is in the Final Four of the NCAA
Tournament and will face Florida on Saturday.
The Wolverines, who had lost seven of their last nine games
before the start of the NIT, will play either South Carolina or
Louisville in the championship game on Thursday night.
Trailing 21-14 with 12:14 left in the first half, Michigan held
the Monarchs without a field goal for the rest of the half.
"They probably missed some shots they ordinarily make,"
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said.
The Wolverines outscored the Monarchs 19-3 over that stretch,
highlighted by Sims' two-handed dunk that made it 31-24. Sims
scored eight points during the run.
"It feels good that we won and I helped us win," said Sims,
who was 8-for-10 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. "I was
just trying to be aggressive out there."
The Monarchs also lost junior forward Arnaud Dahi to a knee
injury with 30 seconds left in the half. Old Dominion coach Blaine
Taylor said he fears it may be a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Brian Henderson finally ended the drought for the Monarchs
(24-10) with a 3-pointer 1:12 into the second half. He made three
straight 3s to get the Monarchs within 35-33, but the Wolverines
responded with a 13-5 run to take command of the game. Brent Petway
capped the spurt with a two-handed alley-oop dunk that gave
Michigan a 48-38 lead.
"Both halves I thought we asserted ourselves early and they
came back in a good way at us," Taylor said.
Old Dominion would get no closer than eight the rest of the way
as Michigan ended the game on a 18-5 run.
"They wore us down, especially inside," Old Dominion forward
Alex Loughton said.
The Wolverines held Old Dominion's leading scorer Isaiah Hunter
to just two points. He was 1-for-15 from the field, including going
1-for-10 in the first half.
"He wasn't his old self," Taylor said. "We wouldn't be here
... Isaiah had 28 at Colorado, 29 at Hofstra. We rode the horses
that got us here. But some of them came up limping and lame."
Old Dominion shot a season-low 28 percent from the field.
Henderson led the Monarchs with 11 points and Drew Williamson
Michigan beat Miami 71-65 to advance to the semifinals.
The Wolverines' last trip to New York ended with the 2004 NIT
title, the third in school history. Michigan is 7-1 in the NIT
semifinals and finals.
This year's tournament was the first under the control of the
NCAA, which purchased the rights to the preseason and postseason
NITs in August as part of a settlement that ended a four-year legal
fight between the two parties.