Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Clemson had a lead and tried to lose it. They threw rocks from the free throw line. Sound familiar? However, yet again, they found a way to win 68-67 over Air Force to advance to the NIT finals at MSG on Thursday night. K.C. Rivers scored 19 and Trevor Booker added 13 points for Clemson (25-10), which will play West Virginia (26-9) who beat Mississippi State 63-62 on Darris Nichols' buzzer-beating 3-point bomb on a inbounds play earlier in the evening.

Clemson, which tied the 1986-87 Tigers for most wins in a season with its fourth straight victory, reached the NIT finals for the second time -- and first since losing to California in 1999. After being snubbed for the NCAA tournament, the Tigers are motivated to bring an NIT title home.

North Carolina has been knocked out in the late rounds of the NCAA tournament by the eventual champion each of the last two seasons. Last year's title shot was ruined when star guard Ivory Latta hurt her knee early in a loss to Maryland in the national semifinal.

Now Latta and the Tar Heels -- who improved to 34-3, setting a school record for wins -- get to try again, starting with the dubious honor of facing fellow No. 1 seed Tennessee in Cleveland on Sunday. They got there by beating Purdue last night 84-72. Just like the boys, the girls scored 52 points in the paint.

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