Men's Hoops Edges Iona In First Round, 72-70

March 16, 2001

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By DOUG TUCKER
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - In foul trouble and a bit shaken up, Rahim Lockhart made the most of his 15 minutes of play.

The muscular Mississippi center sank the go-ahead free throw with 50 seconds left, then made the defensive play of the game as third-seeded Ole Miss held off No. 15 seed Iona 72-70 on Friday night in the first round of the Midwest Regional.

"This is exactly what we wanted," Lockhart said. "And we just took care of it."

With 1.8 seconds to go, Lockhart stripped Iona's Courtney Fields of the ball in the lane and Jason Holmes then hit a free throw in a back-and-forth affair that was close in every way but the seeding.

"My man broke open and left me," Lockhart said. "But I was able to get back to him. I knocked the ball out. Fortunately, Holmes was there to finish it off."

Lockhart was shaken up after crashing to the floor and played only four minutes of the first half. He played just 11 minutes of the second half, and finished with four fouls.

Mississippi (26-7) shot 44 percent while the Gaels (22-11), looking for their first NCAA win since 1980, shot 41 percent. Iona had 40 rebounds, Ole Miss 36. The Rebels sank 14 free throws, the Gaels 13.

Iona, with star center Nakiea Miller in foul trouble, took a 70-67 lead with 1:56 to play on Earl Johnson's basket. Then Emmanuel Wade, having one of his finest games, tied it 70-all with a 3-pointer for Ole Miss.

With 50 seconds left, Lockhart outmuscled Miller for a rebound under the basket, and forced Miller's fifth foul.

A 46-percent free-throw shooter, Lockhart made one foul shot, putting the Rebels on top 71-70.

Miller, Iona's senior center and team leader, fouled out after scoring 19 points.

 

 

"When you're down one point with 10 seconds left, you have a chance to win, it's more painful to lose a game like that than a blowout," Miller said.

"I won't play any more college basketball. I don't have any more to say."

Wade, who averaged just four points for the season, had a career-high 19 for the Rebels, whose No. 3 seed is their highest ever. Lockhart had 12 and Jason Holmes and Aaron Harper each had 10.

Miller also had 10 rebounds for the Gaels and Earl Johnson had 15 points.

Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes tipped his cap to Iona coach Jeff Ruland.

"To be honest, I feel I got outcoached," Barnes said. "But our kids took care of it. We knew they were going to play zone. That wasn't a surprise. But I just didn't teach our guys and prepare them on what will happen and when to recognize if they're in the matchup or the 3-2 zone. After the half we adjusted."

With Ole Miss clinging to a 65-64 lead, Justin Reed blocked three straight Iona shots, stopping Miller twice and then swatting away Phil Grant's shot with 3:14 to go.

"That's just the way of our team," said Barnes. "We wait until the last five minutes and then make great defensive plays. There's no doubt that may have saved us."

A moment later, Grant took the inbounds pass and hit a 15-footer that gave the Gaels a 66-65 edge.

In the back-and-forth first half, the lead changed hands six times, with Leland Norris hitting a long 3-pointer 16 seconds before the buzzer to give the Gaels a 38-35 lead.

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