Bulldogs lose numbers game

February 02, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

Last Saturday, Southern-Baltimore made its claim for the country's No. 1 ranking.

Less than 72 hours later, it lost that -- and maybe the area's No. 1 ranking.

The Bulldogs (11-1) had their 25-game winning streak snapped yesterday in a 71-70 loss to host and No. 3 Southwestern when Aaron Jolly banked in a 23-footer at the buzzer.

Last Saturday, Southern won the Southeast bracket championship at the First National Bank Charm City Classic, defeating the nation's No. 1 team at the time, Rice of New York, 65-58. The previous night, the Bulldogs defeated then-No. 6 and defending national champion Simon Gratz of Philadelphia, 74-68.

In the latest USA Today Super 25 Poll, which was released yesterday, Southern moved from No. 4 to No. 2. Martin Luther King High of Chicago claimed the No. 1 spot after being in the No. 2 position the previous week.

"It really didn't make a difference," said Southern coach Meredith Smith. "We know that we don't have any control over the polls. If you focus on that too much you can have a serious let down."

Exactly right, said Southern point guard Damon Cason.

"I think we were more focused on being No. 1 in the nation," he said. "Not getting it was kind of a letdown for us, but we lost on a great shot."

Until this season, Southern had failed in seven consecutive attempts against teams ranked in the USA Today Super 25. Then on Dec. 10, the Bulldogs defeated then-No. 8 Dunbar, 72-71, to claim the area's No. 1 ranking for the first time since the conclusion of the 1989-90 campaign.

"We were kind of frustrated that we weren't No. 1." said Southern senior shooting guard Kevin Simpson. "They [King] haven't played a Top 25 team yet, and they get the No. 1 ranking."

The Bulldogs didn't show early signs of letdown against Southwestern. They led by as many as 12 points in the first half and by nine at intermission.

With 5:41 remaining in the third quarter, Southern led, 46-36, but the Sabers' press forced six turnovers in seven possessions, aiding an 11-0 run.

The Bulldogs trailed, 68-63, with 2:01 left, but scored the next seven to take a 70-68 lead with 3.2 seconds left. Then Jolly struck for the Sabers.

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