Bethune Cookman

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Bennett, Spencer lead South Carolina to 85-81 OT win over Bethune-Cookman

Carrio Bennett scored 27 points and Everett Spencer added 21 as South Carolina defeated Bethune-Cookman 85-81 in overtime in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play Saturday.

The win was the third in the last four games for the Bulldogs (11-18, 7-8 in MEAC).
Bennett, who hit five three-pointers, made all six of his free throw attempts during the final 47 seconds of overtime. His work negated Bethune-Cookman's attempts to come back after falling behind by four points early in the extra period.

Dewayne Pettus scored a career-high 31 points to pace Bethune-Cookman (11-18, 6-9), with John Holmes supplying 14, Joey Woods 13 and Jordan Carrier 11.

South Carolina took its first lead of the second half, 53-51, on a Spencer three-pointer with 11:56 left in regulation. It was swapout the rest of the way, with Holmes' free throw at 2:15 tying the score at 68-all. That's the way regulation ended.

Consecutive baskets by Jason Flagler, who finished with 16 points, and Spencer staked the visiting Bulldogs to a four-point lead, 72-68, to start the overtime. Bethune-Cookman never recovered.

The Wildcats led most of the first half, surging to a ten-point lead, 26-26, on Joey Woods' lay-in with 8:56 left in the first half. South Carolina closed to within four points twice in the first half - the last time with 2:01 showing - but could never get any closer.

Bethune-Cookman settled for a 40-36 halftime edge and held on until the Bulldogs scored eight straight points to take that first two-point lead at 11:56.
The Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy has become a true baseball gathering place, and that will become more evident when the academy hosts its first Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament this weekend in Compton, Calif.

Two historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Southern University (Baton Rouge, La.), will face off against local powerhouses UCLA and USC. The Urban Invitational was created, in part, to showcase the many uses for the academy, but, more importantly to bring attention to the two universities visiting Southern California.

"[Academy director] Darrell Miller and I had been talking about making the academy a place for all types of events for anything baseball," said Major League Baseball executive vice president of operations Jimmie Lee Solomon. "One of the areas we agreed was that the HBCUs were suffering and losing sports programs at an alarming rate, and they don't get a lot of publicity.

"We had been trying to find a way to help raise their profile, especially with a lot of kids on the West Coast. So the whole idea of playing a tournament was very attractive to us, and Darrell's relationships with the coaches at UCLA and USC made those teams naturals to us for a round-robin tournament to help showcase schools from the Mideast Athletic Conference and the Southwest Athletic Conference and showcase their players and universities on a national stage with ESPN."

Tournament games will be played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy, USC's Dedeaux Field and UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday. Both games on Saturday will be played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy and broadcast live on ESPN2.

Fans attending on that day will also be entertained by a live performance of Southern University's "Human Jukebox" and USC's Trojan Marching Band, as they bring their unique musical performances to the academy field. Bethune-Cookman University and Southern University baseball teams will face each other at 1 p.m. PT on Sunday at the Academy.

Solomon, who came up with the idea for the academy and shepherded it through the long development process before it opened its doors in the spring of 2006, is pleased that the academy has been able to quickly establish itself as a gathering place for both amateur and professional baseball. Two weeks ago, the facility was the site of the second-annual Urban Youth Academy Draft Showcase, with more than 150 scouts watching 56 of California's best high school players show off their skills.

"The academy can serve so many functions," Solomon said. "The recent showcase, tournaments, instruction. We have clinics, vocational training, educational instruction, life skills instruction ... it's been a great facility for all things baseball and all good things in our society."

HBCUs have long offered quality education and athletic programs and have a proud tradition of outstanding baseball players. Hall of Famer Lou Brock, former MVP Andre Dawson and current Milwaukee Brewers star Rickie Weeks all rose from HBCUs.

Twelve HBCU players were selected in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and Solomon hopes the tournament will help put a spotlight on the great educational opportunities these proud schools have to offer.

"I hope this gives a lot of kids in Southern California a chance to see Southern University, to see Bethune-Cookman and their brand of baseball and the high quality baseball they play," Solomon said. "Some kids in Southern California never even consider HBCU's when they are considering colleges to go to. You open the world to these kids when you give them a chance to see them, but luckily having the games on ESPN will help open them up to kids across the country."

The Urban Invitational Baseball Tournament, coupled with the second annual Civil Rights game between the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets on March 29 in Memphis, Tenn., gives Major League Baseball two new events that will hopefully become annual spring rituals that players and fans will anticipate.

"The Civil Rights game will be an annual event, of course, and this will be an annual tournament," Solomon said. "Of course we will try to expand it and tweak it, and of course it's a first-time event, so we will have a few growing pains, but I think this will be a marquee event that many colleges will want to participate in, especially when they see the high caliber of baseball and the beautiful facility, and they see the exposure their universities get on ESPN. I think it will be something that will be sought after on a regular basis."

Tickets to the games being played at the MLB Urban Youth Academy will be available for purchase on game day for $5. Proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy, which is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Game Schedule (all times Pacific):
Friday, UCLA vs. Southern University, 6 p.m. at UCLA
Friday, USC vs. Bethune-Cookman, 6 p.m. at USC
Saturday, UCLA vs. Bethune-Cookman, 5 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
*Battle of the Bands -- Southern's "Human Jukebox" and USC Trojan Marching Band
Saturday, Southern vs. USC, 8 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
Sunday, Southern vs. Bethune-Cookman, 1 p.m. at MLB Urban Youth Academy
Sunday, USC vs. UCLA, 1 p.m. at USC

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