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Virginia Union wins 3rd national championship

Virginia Union wins 3rd national championship

Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Antwan Walton finally found a way to shut up his coach.

Walton had 19 points, 11 rebounds and the go-ahead basket to help Virginia Union hold off Bryant 63-58 for the NCAA Division II title Saturday.

"I've really been in his ear," Panthers coach Dave Robbins said. "After the game I told him, 'Antwan, you don't have to listen to me fuss anymore."'

Walton's three-point play after a driving jump shot and free throw gave the Panthers a 61-58 lead with 1:29 left. Luqman Jaaber sealed the victory by forcing a steal and hitting two free throws with 6 seconds remaining.

It was the third championship for Virginia Union, which also won in 1980 and 1992.

Walton was selected the tournament's outstanding player. He had 43 points and a tourney-high 31 rebounds in three games.

"It's a good feeling to be honored, but like coach said, I'm sitting up here with two other MVPs," said Walton, referring to Jaaber and Duan Crockett.

Crockett added 12 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (30-4).

Chris Burns came off the bench to lead Bryant (25-9) with 25 points, including six 3-point field goals. He was 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the second half.

Bryant, which trailed most of the way, went on a 8-0 run and tied the game at 58 on a 3-pointer by Burns with 2:30 left. After the teams traded possessions without scoring, the 6-foot-4 Walton drove on 6-11 center Mike Williams to score and draw the foul.

The Bulldogs had the ball out of bounds near their basket with 7 seconds left, but Jaaber broke up a pass by Cullen McCarthy. Bryant coach Max Good said he should have called timeout when McCarthy was surrounded.

Jaaber, the leading free throw shooter in Division II, drilled both his shots for the final margin.

"Our scorekeepers just put them down before he shoots them," Robbins said.

Virginia Union had an overwhelming edge at the free-throw line, hitting 18-of-20. The Bulldogs made all four of their free throws.

Burns took over shooting chores for Bryant after the Panthers bottled up point guard John Williams with their zone defense. Williams had averaged 26 points in the first two tournament games, but settled for 12. He was 4-of-15 from the field.

"I had to open it up," Burns said. "I had to make them play me so John could get his shots."

Before the game, about 75 protesters from University of North Dakota groups opposed to the school's use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo held a march and rally outside Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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