Tired Southern prevails over St. Raymond's, 75-57 Top-ranked Bulldogs play 3 games in 3 days

January 28, 1996|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

His team was exhausted and its lead was fading fast.

There were times in the second half of yesterday's Charm City Classic when Southern coach Meredith Smith wondered if his top-ranked Bulldogs -- playing their third game in as many days -- had anything left to give.

But after seeing their 16-point lead dwindle to four, the Bulldogs showed that a strong heart can sometimes make up for weak legs. They outscored St. Raymond's of New York by 12 in the final quarter en route to a 75-57 win in the Northwest Bracket consolation at Towson State.

"They were tired as all get out," said Smith, whose team was fresh off a loss to nationally top-ranked St. Anthony on Thursday and a win over Walbrook on Friday. "By the fourth quarter, it was amazing that they still had as much as they did."

Southern (11-2) -- ranked 12th in the nation by USA Today -- did the bulk of its damage on the boards, outrebounding the Ravens, 39-14, including 18 offensive rebounds.

Once Southern got the ball, its backcourt made St. Raymond's pay.

Led by point guard Marlin Wise (game-high 17 points), and guards Dedric Galloway (16) and Charles Scott (10), the Bulldogs either burned their opponents from the perimeter or got the ball inside to forwards John Hemsley (13 points) and Kofi Pointer (11).

"This game was very important to us," said Wise, who hit three of five three-pointers. "On Thursday we felt we played good enough to win but just ran out of gas.

"Today we wanted to prove that we really deserve to be ranked nationally, and that it's not just because of tradition."

Leading, 37-33, early in the third quarter, Southern slowly began to pull away, turning up its intensity on defense, forcing turnovers and then hitting its shots on the offensive end.

"They're a very talented team," said Ravens coach Gary DeCesare. "They played well late."

St. Raymond's (4-11) was paced by freshman Majestic Mapp, who came off the bench to score 15, including 11 in the second half. Guard Vohn Hunter also scored 12.

Smith said he was proud of his team's effort, especially on the boards.

"We knew we had to rebound in this tournament," said Smith. "We did it against St. Anthony, and I guess it just carried over to this game."

Southern began strongly, using its dominance on the offensive boards to build a 13-5 lead over the first 5:15. Wise played a large role early by hitting back-to-back three-pointers.

Leading, 17-14, early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs began to get hot from the field. They hit four of their next five shots, including two three-pointers by Scott, to go on a 13-0 run that extended their lead to 30-14 with 2:45 to play before halftime.

The Ravens, however, hung tough, outscoring Southern, 11-3, the rest of the quarter to go into the locker room trailing, 33-25, at the break.

Southern outrebounded St. Raymond's, 18-11, in the half.

Wise admitted that playing in three games in as many days was a tiring experience, but said that having a game on Friday may have actually helped the Bulldogs.

"Walbrook is a pretty good team, but that game gave us a chance to work on some things," said Wise, whose team defeated the Warriors, 73-51. "It was almost like getting an extra day of practice, and that's how we treated it."

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