Sunday, November 16, 2008By SKIP VAUGHNFor The Times firstname.lastname@example.orgAmbassadors hit free throws to top A&M 86-85It's about an hour before game time Saturday night at Alabama A&M's newly renovated Elmore Gym. The players warm up on the new floor and fans begin arriving at the new seats.This is the Bulldogs' season opener in the gym, built in the early 1970s and spruced up this summer after a $300,000 fund-raising project.With just more than 20 minutes until tipoff, the Bulldogs jog out of the dressing room to the beat of "Atomic Dog." It's time to defend their "Dawg Pound."Visiting Oakwood University, however, spoiled the party.Ronald Bushner sank two free throws with 25 seconds left as Oakwood beat A&M 86-85 before 3,534 fans. It was the Ambassadors' first win over the Bulldogs."I was thinking about hitting the free throws because coach has us practicing free throws 20 minutes straight," said Bushner, a junior point guard whose team won last year's United State Collegiate Athletic Association national title. "It was just another practice, just got to get it done. It's just routine."Bushner scored 10 points, including 3-of-4 from the free throw line."Thursday night we went to free throw practice 20 minutes straight," he said. "I hit about 50 straight."Landon Bertram scored 20 points, Brandon Broome had 18 and Marcus Fitts added 12 for Oakwood (4-2). The Ambassadors improved to 1-2 against A&M after a one-point loss in 2005 and an overtime defeat last year."Just hard defense, perseverance, just being disciplined at the end," Oakwood coach Tony Oliver said. "We cut down our turnovers the second half."It's very key to us," he said of the win. "We wanted to come over here. It's our first time beating a Division I team. It means a whole lot to us."Oakwood forward Rodney Davis said the Ambassadors played with heart."When we were down, our backs were against the wall, we didn't give up," Davis said. "We kept fighting."Trant Simpson scored 23, Desmond Jackson had 19 and Casey Cantey 11 for the Bulldogs (0-1).
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