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Wednesday, November 24, 2004



[ MAUI INVITATIONAL ]




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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Texas' P.J. Tucker and Iowa's Adam Haluska battled for the ball.




Iowa drops another
ranked team

The Hawkeyes beat Texas to
reach the Maui Invitational final

LAHAINA, Maui » Pierre Pierce wasn't around to celebrate with his teammates.

The junior guard hit a 25-foot jumper with 44 seconds left to give Iowa the lead for good, and the Hawkeyes beat No. 15 Texas 82-80 last night in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

On the last play of the game, when Texas' P.J. Tucker missed a chance to tie it, Pierce stepped on another player's foot and hurt his left ankle. He was on the floor in pain while his teammates celebrated, then they ran to him and helped him to the locker room.

He left the Lahaina Civic Center on crutches and was taken for X-rays.

"He made big play after big play in the second half," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "But he's on crutches right now and we don't have a long turnaround."

Iowa (3-0) will face North Carolina in the championship game today. The 11th-ranked Tar Heels beat Tennessee 94-81 yesterday.

It was Iowa's second straight win over a ranked team following a 76-71 victory over No. 12 Louisville in the opening round.

"These two games have been against two talented teams and we played with poise in both," said Alford, who celebrated his 40th birthday. "We've played ahead and behind and these kids know what needs to take place."

With the Hawkeyes trailing by two in the final minute, Pierce stood with the ball in front of the Iowa bench, but no Texas defender came out toward him. He waited as his teammates tried to get free, then let fly with a long jumper that gave the Hawkeyes a 79-78 lead.

The 3-point line is 9 inches farther back than normal in this tournament, but that didn't even matter because Pierce was well behind where the NBA line would have been.

"That was a long, deep 3 and he made the shot," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "But they gave us opportunities to get back in it."

Jeff Horner, who led Iowa with 27 points, made two free throws with 21 seconds left, but Tucker scored with 8 seconds remaining to bring the Longhorns (2-1) to 81-80.

Horner made one of two free throws with 7.3 seconds left and Tucker, who made a buzzer-beating shot to beat Providence last season, was off the mark with a shot in the lane just before the buzzer sounded.

"Seven seconds is a hard defensive assignment and we did a nice job and there was no rebound," Alford said. "We didn't want them to drive and kick out for a 3. The worst-case scenario for us was overtime and they had some foul trouble."

Barnes was happy with his team's final play.

"We wanted P.J. to take it as far he could go with it just like he did last year," Barnes said. "He got it there. We got a good look at it."

Pierce had 18 points and seven assists.

"We just kept fighting back like we did against Louisville," Horner said. "Pierre stepped up and hit a big 3. That's the kind of player he is. He's fun to watch."

Brad Buckman led Texas with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and freshman point guard Daniel Gibson had 14 points and six assists.

No. 11 North Carolina 94, Tennessee 81: Rashad McCants scored 27 points and the Tar Heels (2-1) rode a sharp first half to a victory over the Volunteers (1-1) in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

UNC will play Iowa in the championship game today.

This is North Carolina's fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational, and the Tar Heels have always reached the title game. They won it in 1999 and finished second in 1989 and 1995.

No. 12 Louisville 93, Chaminade 63: Taquan Dean scored 21 points and the Cardinals (2-1) bounced back from an opening-round loss to beat the Silverswords (1-2) in the consolation bracket of the Maui Invitational.

Louisville will play Stanford for fifth place today.

Chaminade held a 2-1 all-time edge over Louisville entering the game. Chaminade beat Louisville in December 1983 and again a year later in games played in Honolulu. The Cardinals, who were ranked every time they played Chaminade, beat the Silverswords in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in 1989.

Stanford 62, BYU 53: Dan Grunfeld scored 20 points, including eight in an 11-0 run to open the second half, and the Cadinal (2-1) beat the Cougars (0-2) in the consolation bracket of the Maui Invitational.

Grunfeld, the son of Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, had two three-point plays in the run that started the second half and gave Stanford a 39-25 lead.

Jared Jensen had 11 points for BYU, which used a 9-2 run to get within 58-50 with 53 seconds left.

Grunfeld wasn't the only son of an NBA general manager in the game. Austin Ainge, the son of BYU's all-time leading scorer and current Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge, didn't score and had four turnovers in 12 minutes for the Cougars.

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