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Sunday, March 27, 2005; Page E09

Division II

Antwan Walton had 19 points, 11 rebounds and the go-ahead basket to help Virginia Union hold off Bryant, 63-58, for the NCAA Division II championship in Grand Forks, N.D.

"I've really been in his ear," Panthers Coach Dave Robbins said. "After the game I told him, 'Antwan, you don't have to listen to me fuss anymore.' "

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Walton's three-point play after a driving jump shot and free throw gave the Panthers a 61-58 lead with 1 minute 29 seconds left. Luqman Jaaber sealed the victory by forcing a steal and hitting two free throws with six seconds remaining.

It was the third championship for Robbins and Virginia Union, which also won in 1980 and 1992. The Panthers have never lost when reaching the championship game.

Walton was selected the tournament's outstanding player. He had 43 points and a tourney-high 31 rebounds in three games.

"It's a good feeling to be honored, but like coach said, I'm sitting up here with two other MVPs," said Walton, referring to Jaaber and Duan Crockett.

Crockett added 12 points and six rebounds for the Panthers (30-4).

Chris Burns came off the bench to lead Bryant (25-9) with 25 points, including six three-point field goals. He made 5 of 6 three-point shots in the second half.

Bryant, which trailed most of the way, went on an 8-0 run and tied the game at 58 on a three-pointer by Burns with 2:30 left. After the teams traded possessions without scoring, the 6-foot-4 Walton drove on 6-11 center Mike Williams to score and draw the foul.

The Bulldogs had the ball out of bounds near their basket with seven seconds left, but Jaaber broke up a pass by Cullen McCarthy. Bryant Coach Max Good said he should have called a timeout when McCarthy was surrounded.

Jaaber, the leading free throw shooter in Division II, drilled both his shots for the final margin.

"Our scorekeepers just put them down before he shoots them," Robbins said.

Virginia Union had an overwhelming edge at the free-throw line, hitting 18 of 20. The Bulldogs made all four of their free throws.

Burns took over shooting chores for Bryant after the Panthers bottled up point guard John Williams with their zone defense. Williams had averaged 26 points in the first two tournament games, but settled for 12. He was 4 of 15 from the field.


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