Carolina, by technical knockout Webber's mental lapse ends Michigan's last bid, as '82-like gift brings Heels another crown, 77-71

April 06, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- There was no last-second shot this time, just another last-second blunder. There was no legend launched, just another player who'll be haunted by his error.

It was deja blew all over again at the Louisiana Superdome. With Chris Webber playing the same role Fred Brown did here 11 years ago, Michigan all but handed North Carolina a national championship last night.

Webber's mistake of calling timeout with 11 seconds to go when the Wolverines had none remaining resulted in a technical foul, and four subsequent free throws by Tar Heels guard Donald Williams led to a 77-71 victory for North Carolina.

It gave Dean Smith his second national championship in 32 years in Chapel Hill, and was reminiscent of the way North Carolina beat Georgetown in 1982, when Brown's errant pass to James Worthy secured a one-point win after Michael Jordan's jumper had given the Tar Heels the lead.

"Neither one necessarily meant we wouldn't win, we were going to foul if he hadn't taken time out," said Smith, whose team still had three fouls to give. "It's all part of the game. I've often said you had to be lucky and good."

While North Carolina (34-4) was lucky, Williams was very, very good. The sophomore guard continued his amazing run of shooting throughout the NCAA tournament with a standout performance last night.

Williams finished with a game-high 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field, including five of seven on three-pointers, and led the Tar Heels back from a 67-63 deficit with 4:41 to go. He scored the first five points of a 9-0 run that gave North Carolina a 72-67 lead with 1:01 to play.

"I think basketball is a game of runs," said Williams, who started North Carolina's late run with a three-point shot. "We knew we were playing well on offense and told each other to concentrate on stopping them on defense."

The Wolverines, who seemed on the verge of self-destructing after a turnover by Jalen Rose led to a breakaway dunk by Eric Montross for a five-point North Carolina lead, made one last attempt at a comeback.

First Jimmy King hit an 18-footer from the right baseline to cut Michigan's deficit to three with 48 seconds to go. Then after the Wolverines called timeout -- their last timeout -- North Carolina forward Brian Reese was double-teamed along the sideline and stepped out of bounds.

Webber, who led Michigan (31-5) with 23 points and 12 rebounds, cut it to 72-71 on a rebound follow of a missed three-pointer by Rose with 29 seconds left. The Wolverines fouled North Carolina reserve Pat Sullivan, who opened the door by missing the back end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds to go.

"There were 20 seconds to go, I started dribbling, I got past midcourt and picked up my dribble," a somber Webber said later of the events leading up to his ill-fated timeout. "Whatever I did, that's what was going through my mind."

With the entire bench up yelling at Webber not to call timeout, the 6-foot-9 sophomore All-American misunderstood the pleas. And he apparently forgot what Michigan coach Steve Fisher told his team during its final timeout: that they had used up their allotment.

After getting the rebound of Sullivan's missed free throw and dribbling upcourt -- he actually took three steps before starting -- Webber called for a timeout right in front of the Michigan bench. A groan could be heard from the Wolverines' rooting section. A roar could be heard from North Carolina's fans.

When things got sorted out, Williams stepped to the line and made the first two free throws. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Williams was fouled by Ray Jackson and made both ends of a one-and-one. Rose then missed a three-pointer, George Lynch got the rebound and ran out the clock.

Asked about what was going through his mind when he called timeout, Webber said quietly, "I don't remember. I just called time and we didn't have one and that probably cost us the game. If I had known we didn't have one, I wouldn't have called one. Whether I heard voices or not, that doesn't matter."

Asked if he told his players that they didn't have any timeouts remaining, Fisher said: "Apparently, it wasn't clearly defined. We thought we did, but apparently we didn't get specific enough."

Webber wasn't the only one confused. North Carolina's George Lynch said he remembered watching Webber move down the sideline and hearing the Wolverines bench yell, "Call timeout! Call timeout!"

Just as Brown's error overshadowed what had been a marvelous game -- it seemed even bigger than Jordan's 17-footer at the time -- Webber's miscue marred what had been a terrific game between the Tar Heels and Wolverines. It was a game of runs, from start to finish.

A 19-4 run by Michigan early in the first half gave the Wolverines their biggest lead, 23-13, with 11:33 to go. That was followed by North Carolina's 12-2 run that tied the game at 25. The Tar Heels closed the half with the last five points to push their lead up to six, 42-36.

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