Wallace helps Heels stuff Hoyas, 74-64 NCAA TOURNAMENT

March 24, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- He had been curiously silent through most of an erratic first half, but when North Carolina needed Rasheed Wallace the most last night, the 6-foot-10 center was at his dominating best.

Playing on a tender left ankle, Wallace scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as the second-seeded Tar Heels eliminated Georgetown, 74-64, in a Southeast Regional before 17,458 at Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

Wallace went over top with a series of thunderous dunks to handily win the battle of big men against the Hoyas' Othella Harrington. Wallace collected 12 rebounds and six blocks and shot 10-for-13.

The Tar Heels advanced to tomorrow's Southeast final against the winner of last night's second game between Kentucky and Arizona State.

"The key for us was the beginning of the second half, when Jerry [Stackhouse] drove and dished to Rasheed," North Carolina coach Dean Smith said. "We wanted to take it to the basket."

North Carolina (27-5) started the game by hitting eight of 10 shots -- five from three-point range -- to open a 23-7 lead. That stretched Georgetown's defense and ultimately opened the inside for Wallace.

"We were conscious of [Wallace] in the beginning and were trying to stop him," said Georgetown coach John Thompson. "When they hit the threes, we had to go out. We just couldn't contain him."

It was a game perhaps only best friends like Smith and Thompson could truly appreciate. Georgetown's guards were 1-for-15 in the first half and Carolina was able to pack its 2-3 defense around Harrington and Don Reid. The Hoyas shot only (( 33.3 percent for the game, but still managed to make a game of it in the second half.

That's when freshman point guard Allen Iverson erupted for 21 of his game-high 24 points.

The Hoyas, down 15 early in the second half, got as close as 53-49 on Jerome Williams' follow shot with 10:52 to play.

But Wallace scored over Reid to make it 55-49. Down the stretch, Stackhouse delivered two big slam-dunks to punctuate the victory. He retrieved a loose ball from Iverson for a monster jam with 6:07 to play that made it a nine-point game. And with 2:25 to play, he one-handed a missed jumper by Donald Williams and rammed it home. That pushed the lead to 69-59 and ended any doubt.

Georgetown's second-half comeback actually chased the Tar Heels out of their cozy 2-3 zone and into man-to-man until the game was decided.

The Hoyas were stone cold in the first half, hitting just five of their first 23 shots. Only when they made a concerted effort to get the ball inside to Harrington did they get back in the game.

Harrington scored 11 straight Georgetown points in the first half and the Hoyas whittled their 16-point deficit to nine by halftime. But in the second half, Harrington had just four points to finish with 18. He led Georgetown with 11 rebounds.

"The bottom line was, before we went out for the second half, I thought to myself I'm not ready to go home," Wallace said.

In the end, Carolina won with defense and its dominating inside game.

"We set out to expose their lack of outside shooting," Smith said. "It was hard for Harrington with three or four hanging around him."

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