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Pierce, Iowa reach

Maui tourney finals

Associated Press

LAHAINA, Hawaii -- Pierre Pierce wasn't around to celebrate with his teammates.

The junior guard hit a 25-foot jumper with 44 seconds left to give Iowa the lead for good, and the Hawkeyes beat No. 15 Texas 82-80 on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.

On the last play of the game, when Texas' P.J. Tucker missed a chance to tie it, Pierce stepped on another player's foot and hurt his left ankle. He was on the floor in pain while his teammates celebrated, then they ran to him and helped him to the locker room.

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He left the Lahaina Civic Center on crutches and was taken for X-rays.

"He made big play after big play in the second half," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "But he's on crutches right now and we don't have a long turnaround."

Iowa (3-0) will face North Carolina in the championship game today. The 11th-ranked Tar Heels beat Tennessee 94-81 on Tuesday.

It was Iowa's second straight win over a ranked team following a 76-71 victory over No. 12 Louisville in the opening round.

"These two games have been against two talented teams and we played with poise in both," said Alford, who celebrated his 40th birthday. "We've played ahead and behind and these kids know what needs to take place."

With the Hawkeyes trailing by two in the final minute, Pierce stood with the ball in front of the Iowa bench, but no Texas defender came out toward him. He waited as his teammates tried to get free, then let fly with a long jumper that gave the Hawkeyes a 79-78 lead.

The three-point line is 9 inches further back than normal in this tournament, but that didn't even matter because Pierce was well behind where the NBA line would have been.

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