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Stepp's late heroics almost enough to lift Bulldogs

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -- Indiana coach Mike Davis has told his
team it has to get better at finishing games. He must have the
Hoosiers' attention now.

Indiana lost all but one point of a 17-point lead over the final
3:02 but the Hoosiers (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) held on to beat No. 20 Gonzaga (No. 21, No. 20) 76-75 Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

''We just haven't been there. I keep telling our guys teams are
not going to go away. We gave them open shots,'' Davis said. ''It's
one thing to grow and it's better to grow and win.''

Indiana (2-0) advanced to the championship game of the
eight-team tournament for the third time since 1990 and will play
Virginia, which beat No. 15 Kentucky 75-61, on Wednesday night. The
Hoosiers lost to Syracuse in the title game in 1990 and 1998.

''We're definitely blessed to be able to play for the
championship,'' Davis said. ''But that's why we came over, to win
the Maui Invitational.''

A 3-pointer by Tom Coverdale gave Indiana a 68-53 lead with 3:44
to play and a layup by Jeff Newton 22 seconds later gave the
Hoosiers a 17-point lead. But the Bulldogs (2-1) got within 75-70
with 15 seconds left. Coverdale then missed two free throws, and
Blake Stepp hit a 3 with 8.4 seconds left to make it a two-point
game.

A.J. Moye was fouled with 7.5 seconds to go and he made the
second of two at the line. Gonzaga got the ball to midcourt and
Stepp got off a long 3 as the clock wound. It missed and Winston
Brooks laid it in at the buzzer to make it 76-75.

''If I would have hit my free throws it wouldn't have even come
down to that,'' Coverdale said. ''We have to make our free throws
but they did hit some big shots.''

Gonzaga coach Mark Few said he kept telling his team there was
enough time to make the comeback.

''I kept reminding our guys that with timeouts there was plenty
of time and plenty of possessions,'' he said. ''We kind of lost our
momentum and were feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit. Blake
did a great job of giving us a chance to send the game into
overtime.''

Coverdale and Jeff Newton each had 16 points for Indiana, while
freshman Bracey Wright had 15 and Kyle Hornsby added 14, all but
two on 3-pointers.

Ronny Turiaf had 24 points for Gonzaga, matching his career-high
from the first-round win over Utah, and Stepp had 20, 11 in the
closing 22-6 run during which the Bulldogs made five 3-pointers.

''It was one of those things where we needed quick 3s to get
back in it and I got a few down,'' Stepp said. ''I hoped to get my
man in the air and get a foul and three free throws on the last one
but the ref didn't see it that way.''

The Hoosiers trailed 36-35 at halftime after being outscored
17-6 at the free throw line as the Bulldogs were able to get the
ball inside and draw fouls.

That stopped in the second half as Indiana held Gonzaga to five
field goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The
Hoosiers opened a 60-47 lead by making five 3-pointers and not
sending the Bulldogs to the free throw line.

''We just wanted to stay under control and limit the fouls,''
Newton said of Indiana's approach to the second half. ''Our focus
was to slow down and stay in control.''

Coverdale, 4-for-20 from the field in the opening-round win over
Massachusetts and 0-for-3 in the first half against Gonzaga, hit
two 3s as the shot clock expired in the second half. The first gave
Indiana a 63-49 lead with 5:11 left and the second made it 68-53
with 3:44 to go.

''This has got to be a concern for us,'' Coverdale said,
referring to Massachusetts making a much smaller comeback after the
Hoosiers took an 18-point lead on Monday. ''It happened again
tonight and we have to get better at it. If we play like that
tomorrow we may not come out with a win. Sooner or later our luck
is going to run out. We have to learn to finish teams off.''

Tony Skinner hit two 3s in Gonzaga's final run and finished with
seven points.

''We got it down to what we wanted, a one-possession game, and
we had the ball,'' Few said. ''That was a far cry from the dire
circumstances with three minutes to go.''

Turiaf was 16-for-18 from the free throw line after going
15-for-16 in the opener. He made 17 straight over the two games
before missing two in a row with 11:40 left against Indiana.

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