Apr. 2, 2004
NEW YORK — The Michigan basketball team found a way to
After pushing aside the disappointment of being left off of the
NCAA Tournament bracket just a few weeks ago, the Wolverines
rebounded to win the NIT with a 62-55 victory over Rutgers at
Madison Square Garden last night.
“We’re definitely on a high right now,”
freshman forward Brent Petway said. “Selection night we may
have been on a low, but then we got that phone call (from the NIT)
and we knew we had to go play some ball.”
The Wolverines made it interesting down the stretch against the
Scarlet Knights. With 1:51 remaining, senior Bernard Robinson gave
Michigan a 56-48 lead with a pair of free throws. But the team hit
just four of its next nine foul shots to let Rutgers get back
within four with 18 seconds left.
“We just knew we had to focus,” Michigan guard
Daniel Horton said.
And that’s exactly what the sophomore did, knocking down
two freebies from the charity stripe with seven seconds on the
clock to ice the win and the NIT title.
The Wolverines were once again led by the young backcourt of
Dion Harris and Horton, the tournament’s MVP. The duo
combined for 27 points and eight assists on the night.
Harris got things rolling early. The freshman, who was later
named to the All-Tournament team, buried a three-pointer to cap a
9-2 Michigan run to start the game. The Wolverines led by as many
as nine in the opening stanza, despite shooting just 38 percent
from the field and hitting on just 6-of-11 free throws.
It’s been almost seven months since Michigan won its
appeal to the NCAA, negating its second year of postseason
probation. After failing to make the NCAA Tournament, it looked
like the Wolverines would fail to capitalize on the decision. But
Amaker wasn’t about to let that happen.
“To learn that we became postseason eligible at the
beginning of the year, we tried to make a move this season,”
Amaker said. “And I think our players have done that in a
fine fashion to make our University proud.”