Bridgeport 76, California, Pa. 75
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Senior center Steve Wills made four free throws in the closing seconds to lift the University of Bridgeport to a 76-75 victory over top-ranked California, Pa., in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II basketball tournament Friday night.
The sixth-ranked Purple Knights (28-6), playing on borrowed time since the cash-strapped school announced it was droppiong athletics six weeks ago, faces third-ranked Virginia Union, which downed Bakersfield State 69-66, in Saturday’s championship game.
California (31-2) was led by Kenney Toomer, who had 14 of his 20 points in the leading the Vulcans to a 45-39 halftime advantage.
Wills, limited to five points and three rebounds in the first half, had eight points on rebound baskets in the first five minutes of the second half, sparking a 17-8 run that put Bridgeport ahead 56-55 with nine minutes to play.
The Vulcans rebuilt the lead to 75-68 lead with one minute left, but baskets by Derrick Russell and Keith Hanley trimmed it to 75-72 with 44 seconds remaining.
Then Wills, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, hit four straight free throws.
With one second left, Toomer’s shot from the top of the key was blocked, Although California got the ball out of bounds, Toomer was unable to get off a desperation shot before time expired.
Lamont Jones added 14 for Bridgeport, which finished second in last year’s tournament, while Chris Williams had 16 and Ray Gutierrez 14 for California.