- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 31, 2002

ATLANTA With Indiana's starting guard struggling because of a severely sprained left ankle, freshman Donald Perry rescued his teammates.
Guard Tom Coverdale was laboring when Perry entered the game with three minutes to go. The freshman guard had an assist, a rebound and a subsequent coast-to-coast layup that broke a tie and put the Hoosiers ahead by four points with 2:08 remaining. Then he added four free throws in the final minutes, propelling Indiana into the national championship game tomorrow night.
"Without Donald, we wouldn't have won tonight," Coverdale said.
Coverdale played a courageous 29 minutes, but, just as he had in Indiana's upset victory against Duke, Perry gave the Hoosiers what they needed off the bench a burst of energy that the opponent could not match.
"Basically, I looked at it like most guys are tired, and I'm fresh," Perry said. "I wanted to play the last two minutes like my life depended on it."
With eight minutes to go, Perry didn't think he would get a chance. The Hoosiers were leading by a couple of points, and Coverdale was playing well.
But with 4:40 left, Coverdale committed his first of three turnovers in a span of 1:40. During a timeout at the 3:20 mark, coach Mike Davis sent Perry to the scorer's table to go in for Coverdale but pulled him back. Twenty seconds later, Coverdale committed another turnover, and with three minutes left, Davis had no choice but to go with Perry.
"I thought Coach Davis took [Coverdale] out just to tell him something," Perry said. "But [Davis] saw when I got out there I wasn't playing nervous."
Perry fed Jeff Newton for a layup that broke a 60-60 tie with 2:47 left. On Oklahoma's next possession, he grabbed a rebound, raced upcourt, and despite handling the ball in a 2-on-2 situation, took it right to the basket. The two Sooners defenders got tangled, and Perry had an easy layup for a 64-60 lead, giving the Hoosiers breathing room.
Perry had played at least 17 minutes in each of the last three tournament games after Coverdale suffered his ankle sprain against UNC Wilmington in the second round. He then reaggravated the injury against Kent State and did not practice at all this week. He could barely put weight on his left leg until Friday.
Coverdale hardly was at full strength, or threatening on offense as he finished with three points on 1-for-5 shooting. But he gave a gutsy effort and as hobbled as he was, he still managed a yeoman defensive effort against the Sooners' guards.
On the night, Perry registered 10 points and one assist in 11 minutes, but he played the most important minutes of all the final ones.
"Once I saw the way he was playing, I knew he had to stay in," Coverdale said. "There was no need for me to go back in."

Price gouged
Oklahoma's leading scorer, Hollis Price, was simply handcuffed by Indiana's defense, mainly guard Dane Fife.
Price came into the game averaging 16.8 points, including 18.3 in the tournament. A dangerous 3-point shooter, Price hit six 3-pointers and had 26 points.
Last night he was held to six points on 1-for-11 shooting, including 1-for-7 from long range. Fife blanketed Price all night, but the Hoosiers also displayed great help defense to stop penetration and textbook team defense on the whole.
"If people thought [Fife] wasn't a good defender, they do now," Coverdale said. "That was one of the toughest defensive assignments all year. He handled it."

Nose bleeds galore
Fans in the upper reaches of the Georgia Dome had no trouble seeing the court but the action on it was another matter.
Uniform numbers were unreadable without assistance, but opinions varied on whether the price of the tickets was worth it.
Lou Gallagher of Louisville got his tickets through the NCAA lottery. He paid for them a year ago hoping Kentucky would make it.
"I think the NCAA should be investigated for the prices they charge for seats like this," said Gallagher, who paid $100 apiece for a pair of three-game ticket books.
"I really had no idea they would be this far from the court. It's even hard to see them on the giant monitor."
Tom Higdon of Oklahoma City, whose son won tickets in a radio contest, agreed.
"It's a moneymaking deal," he said. "They sit you up here this far away and then you have to buy binoculars."
Mike Ryan of Hingham, Mass., bought a pair of binoculars for $20 after reaching his seats in the upper deck. He paid $150 each for three-game books for him and five family members.
"I think the court is in Florida," he quipped. "But it's better to be here than at home watching it in front of the TV."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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