Southern knocks off No. 1 Rice

January 30, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

Southern, the area's No. 1 team, staked its claim to the nation's No. 1 ranking by defeating previously unbeaten and top-ranked Rice (N.Y.), 65-58, in the title game of the Southeast bracket of the First National Bank Charm City Classic last night at Loyola College's Reitz Arena.

With the victory before a sellout crowd of 3,100, Southern (11-0), ranked No. 4 by USA Today, extended the state's longest winning streak to 24 games. The Bulldogs' last loss was to Dunbar (D.C.) in last year's Charm City Classic.

Senior shooting guard Kevin Simpson and forward Dante Williams each scored 21 points to lead Southern. Felipe Lopez and Melvin McKey each had 16 for Rice.

"This is a tremendous win for us, to beat the No. 1 team in the nation," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "We played terrible here last year as did the Baltimore teams, but I think this is redemption."

With Southern going on a 10-2 surge midway through the third quarter and Rice's Lopez getting into foul trouble, the Bulldogs ended Rice's 17-game winning streak.

Lopez, who scored 30 points in Friday night's double-overtime victory over Dunbar, sat down with his fourth foul with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter and Southern holding a 49-43 lead.

With 4:20 remaining in the game and Southern ahead, 53-50, Lopez re-entered. With the Bulldogs spreading the floor, Simpson hit a layup for a 55-50 advantage.

"We knew if we crashed the boards and controlled their top player [Lopez], we would have a chance," said Simpson, who was named the Southeast bracket's outstanding player. "We stopped him a little bit, but the main thing is we got the win."

Lopez hit a pair of free throws, pulling Rice to 55-52 with 3:45 remaining. After Southern's Dancavtis Keating missed, he quickly forced a jump ball, giving possession back to the Bulldogs.

Williams followed his own miss with a jumper in the lane for a 57-52 lead with 2:21 remaining. After Mike Wise, who helped spark the Bulldogs' third-quarter run, fouled out, Southern got a dunk from Keating for a 59-52 left with 1:57 left.

Robert Johnson pulled Rice to 59-54 with a jumper. Marlon Wise was fouled on the other end for Southern, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. On a scramble for the ball, Damon Cason was fouled and hit two free throws for a 61-54 lead with 1:12 left.

Melvin McKey hit a layup pulling Rice to 61-56 with 48 seconds remaining, but Simpson hit a free throw and with 30 seconds left found Damon Cason for an uncontested layup for a 64-56 advantage, sealing the victory.

"They're a very good team, we played them last year and they played to win tonight," said Rice coach Lou DeMello. "They got to the ball quicker, but our kids played hard and there's not a team in the country that can say they went out and played the competition we did and held the No. 1 ranking for four weeks."

Rice, which has won the McDonald's Classic, Beach Ball Classic and the Tymark-Burger King Tournament this season, reached the Southeast title game by defeating Dunbar, 63-60, in double overtime on Lopez's 30-foot jumper at the buzzer.

Last season, Southern and Rice faced each other at the Charm City-Big Apple at Baltimore Arena. Rice won that meeting as Lopez scored 28 points in only 23 minutes.

Last night, the 6-foot-5 swingman, considered the country's No. 1 player, scored seven points in the first 16 minutes as Rice led 29-25.

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