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By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2001


TAMPA -- In winning the NCAA Division II South Region for the first time March 10, the Spartans (24-6) defeated Kentucky State, Eckerd and Henderson State to advance to the elite eight for the first time. The Spartans will now face Adelphi (N.Y.), the only undefeated team in college basketball.

"That's the way it goes," UT coach Richard Schmidt said. "You have to go out and play."

Adelphi (31-0) won the Northeast Region to back up its Division II No. 1 ranking and heads to Bakersfield, Calif., with senior point guard Ryan McCormick recently being named Division II Player of the Year and coach Jim Ferry being named Division II Coach of the Year by Basketball Times.

UT's Gecarri Freeman, Jon Brown and Elijah Piazza were named to the All-South Regional Tournament team and Piazza was named MVP after he scored 11 points against Kentucky State and Eckerd, and 14 against Henderson State. Piazza came off the bench in every game and played a career-high 33 minutes against Eckerd.

MORE BASKETBALL: The Division II elite eight tips off March 21 at The Bakersfield Centennial Garden and Convention Center with the following schedule: Kentucky Wesleyan (28-3) vs. Southwest State (28-6) at noon; Adelphi (31-0) vs. Tampa (24-6) at 2:30 p.m.; Johnson C. Smith (27-4) vs. Washburn (27-4) at 6; and Queens (N.C.) (26-5) vs. Western Washington (26-3) at 8:30. The winners of the first two games will meet Thursday at 6 followed by the winners of the third and fourth games at 8:30.

The final will be held March 24 at 10 a.m. All times are Pacific Standard Time.

BASEBALL: Pitchers Sam Figueroa and David Muley combined on a four-hitter Tuesday as the Spartans defeated No. 8 Indianapolis 6-0. Figueroa (4-0) pitched eight innings and allowed four hits and a walk while striking out seven. Kenny White had two doubles and Mike Bureuzzo had a two-run homer for the Spartans (20-3). The Spartans host Massachusetts-Lowell March 20.

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