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COLLEGE BASKETBALL Savannah State finishes winless



Published: Tue, February 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Tigers are the second Div. I team in the last half-century to lose every game.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- Savannah State became just the second NCAA Division I school in a half-century to go through an entire season without a win, losing to Florida A & amp;M 49-44 Monday night to finish 0-28.

At least Savannah State didn't go down without a fight, managing its closest loss of the season. The Tigers tied it at 41 with 1:57 remaining when Donald Carson -- son of former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson -- hit two free throws.

But Michael Harper put Florida A & amp;M (9-13) ahead for good just 12 seconds later with two free throws. Mark Williams hit a long 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining to pull Savannah State to 45-44, but Tony Tate clinched it at the free throw line for the Rattlers. He made six straight in the final 24 seconds.

"It's unbelievable," senior Sherard Reddick said. "I don't believe it. It doesn't feel like we lost 28 games this season. I guess God is testing us."

Almost led at halftime

Savannah State also had a chance to lead at halftime for the first time all season. But Michael Ayodele hit a 3 with eight seconds remaining in the period, putting Florida A & amp;M ahead 28-26.

The Rattlers were clearly relieved to get out of Savannah with a win. In the frantic final seconds, Darius Glover tried to calm his teammates during a timeout. "Come on, guys. Relax. Relax."

When Carson shot an airball on a desperation 3-pointer that could have forced overtime, Florida A & amp;M coach Mike Gillespie walked in front of the bench and said defiantly, "We won the ... game."

Joins Prairie View

Savannah State couldn't say that all year, joining Prairie View in the hall of infamy. The Texas school went 0-28 in 1991-92 -- the only other Division I team in the last 50 years to endure a winless season.

Savannah State won four games last season, but had to forfeit those because of an eligible player -- the son of coach Edward Daniels, no less. Officially, the school has a 55-game losing streak.

This time, the Tigers completed an imperfect season without having to rely on forfeits. They lost by an average margin of nearly 23 points a game.

"They gave it their best effort all year," Daniels said. "We just needed some additional help."

Savannah State had only nine players in uniform for its final game -- the most striking example of a school that had no business jumping to Division I.




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