March 10, 2007

Wild finish sends Miami-OH dancing

Box Score

CLEVELAND -Doug Penno banked Miami of Ohio into the NCAA tournament - not before a wild twist at the end.

With a hand in his face, the RedHawks guard made a controversial 3-pointer off the glass as the horn sounded to give Miami a stunning 53-52 win over Akron in the championship of the Mid-American Conference tournament on Saturday.

Penno's shot set off a wild - and premature - celebration by Miami's players, coaches and fans who piled on top of each other at midcourt.

But the game wasn't over. Officials huddled at the scorer's table for 10 minutes, trying to decide if more time should be put back on the clock. During the lengthy delay, players on both benches awaited word with a trip to the NCAA tournament hanging in the balance.

Akron coach Keith Dambrot and Miami's Charlie Coles shook hands, and MAC commissioner Rick Chryst came onto the floor to help sort out the mess as the crowd booed, wondering what was going on.

At one point, Coles walked around the floor asking anyone he could, "Did we win?"

Eventually, 0.6 seconds were put back on the clock, giving Akron one last chance.

But an inbouds pass intended for reserve Nick Goddard went out bounds, and when the referees waved the game was official. Miami celebrated again as Akron's players walked off in disbelief and tears.

Tim Pollitz finished with 19 points to pace Miami (18-14) and was named the tournament's MVP. Penno added 11 points for the RedHawks, who won their fourth MAC title and will make their 17th trip to the NCAAs.

"I wish I could say I called that bank," Penno said. "But it was a gift from God."

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