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Tuesday, March 8, 2005
Updated: March 9, 2:28 PM ET
Oakland in NCAA Tournament for first time

Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. -- Pierre Dukes became an unlikely hero for an improbable NCAA Tournament team.

NCAA Qualifiers: Worst Records
(*won play-in, lost 1st round)
Year Team Record
2005 Oakland, Mich. 12-18
2004 *Florida A&M 14-16
2003 *NC-Asheville 14-16
2002 *Siena 16-18
1999 Florida A&M 12-18
1998 Prairie View 13-16
1997 Jackson St. 14-15
1996 Central Florida 11-18
1995 Fla. Int. 11-18
1993 East Carolina 13-16
1986 Montana St 14-16
1985 Lehigh 12-18
1978 Missouri 14-15
1974 Texas 12-14
1961 George Wash. 9-16

Dukes' only shot of the second half was a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left and Oakland upset top-seeded Oral Roberts 61-60 Tuesday night to win the Mid-Continent Conference tournament and make the NCAAs with a 12-18 record.

The seventh-seeded Golden Grizzlies are in the tournament for the first time since becoming a Division I program eight seasons ago. It's the fourth straight season a team with a losing record has made the NCAA Tournament.

Oakland (Mich.) took possession after Jonathan Bluitt hit one of two free throws to make it 60-58. Rawle Marshall passed it to Dukes on the left side, and his shot splashed through the net.

"When I got it, I looked at the clock and there wasn't enough time to get it back to him, so I figured I'd let it fly," said Dukes, a 35 percent shooter from 3-point range who almost didn't even make the team.

Ken Tutt's desperation shot after a deflected inbounds pass banked high off the rim, and Oral Roberts' players hung their heads and clutched their knees while the Golden Grizzlies huddled and celebrated near midcourt.

"I'm just numb," Oral Roberts guard Luke Spencer-Gardner said. "I'm not really feeling all that much. I'm just shocked. This isn't the way it was meant to be."

Cortney Scott scored 19 points and Marshall scored 18 for Oakland, which had lost to Oral Roberts twice during the regular season.

The Golden Grizzlies started the season 0-7 against a murderous schedule that included Illinois, Xavier and Missouri. But they finished the season with five straight wins, three in the conference tournament.

"We had to play the perfect game and we did," Kampe said.

It also took a surprising star.

"I can't tell you how happy I am for Pierre Dukes," Kampe said. "He wasn't going to play for us. On Sept. 1, he was not going to be on our team. Then we had some problems and I talked to him and said, 'Why don't you come out?"'

Caleb Green scored 13 points and Tutt added 12 for the Golden Eagles (25-7), who were seeking their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years. The Golden Grizzlies concentrated on eliminating Green with triple-teams and Oral Roberts struggled from the outside, hitting 7 of 19 from 3-point range.

"They slowed the game down and got Marshall the ball and we just never could speed it up to the level that we needed," Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said.

Andrew Meloy scored 10 points for Oral Roberts -- all during a 10-2 run that put the Golden Eagles ahead 16-13 midway through the first half.

The Golden Eagles led 28-27 at halftime, but had to overcome an eight-point second-half deficit to take the lead before Dukes' game-winner.

The Golden Grizzlies led 42-34 after coming out of halftime on an 17-6 run, fueled by Scott inside and Marshall driving the lane. Scott converted a three-point play to open the half and added three more free throws during the run. Marshall hit a pair of jump shots and drove the lane for two more baskets.

Oral Roberts charged back with a 9-2 run capped when Green took a pass from Tutt, whirled around Oakland's David Ritzema and scored to make it 44-43.

After that, the lead changed five times and the teams were tied four times before Spencer-Gardner's two free throws put the Golden Eagles ahead 59-57 with 2:20 to play.

Scott hit one of two free throws to bring Oakland within a point, and Bluitt's answer at the other end left an opening for Oakland to get the win.

"I'll never forget this game as long as I live," Sutton said. "It's a very devastating loss."

The NCAA Tournament hopes for Oral Roberts, which won the Mid-Continent's regular season title, are sketchy at best. No Mid-Continent team has been an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament, but the Golden Eagles have an 81-63 win against Georgetown on their resume.

"I don't think there's much of a chance," Sutton said.