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Rice Sparks Wizards To Overtime Win For D-League Championship

Dakota 129, Colorado 121 (OT)

BISMARCK N.D., April 29, 2007 – BISMARCK, N.D., April 29, 2007 – Darius Rice came off the Dakota Wizards bench to put together a record-setting night and lead the Dakota Wizards to a 129-121 overtime victory over the Colorado 14ers and hand the 2007 NBA Development League title to the Wizards in front of a D-League postseason record crowd of 5,224 at the Bismarck Civic Center on Sunday.

Rice scored 52 points and made 11 three point field goals, including one with 4.5 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime tied at 109. Rice’s points and three-point field goal totals are both D-League championship game records and Dakota is just the second team in the six-year history of the NBA’s minor league to win a title game at home.

“Was there ever a doubt?” Wizards head coach Dave Joerger asked the crowd during the post game celebration. “I told the guys with eight seconds left that crazy stuff happens in this arena. These guys have enjoyed playing together all season long and this is a fitting way to end the season.”

Rice’s last three in regulation fit the bill for Joerger’s craziness, especially after Pooh Jeter had just hit a pair of free throws to put Colorado up 109-106 with 7.2 ticks to play.

“I told my teammates to give the ball to me and I would knock it down,” Rice said. “That’s what happened.”

“He (Rice) sure did have it. It’s tough to play against a guy like that. We reached for a steal and it wasn’t enough,” Jeter said. “We did our job throughout the year and hopefully the fans and NBA scouts saw what we did. We have a lot ahead of us.”

Maurice Baker scored 19 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Wizards. Rod Benson scored 12 and Corey Williams 11 to round out Dakota double figure scorers.

“We had a great first season and this run helped lay the foundation for the future of the Colorado 14ers,” 14ers coach Joe Wolf said. “I’ve really enjoyed coaching these guys. They have a solid future in front of them.”

Jeter scored 30 and Tony Bobbitt 29 to lead Colorado. Elton Brown scored 22 points and collected 12 rebounds.