Hungry Moccasins bite Bulldogs in upset, 73-70 Duke edges Murray, 71-68

Providence's hot shooting scorches Marquette, 81-59

Southeast Regional

March 15, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Catch-up basketball is usually unproductive basketball, and Georgia had too much of it to play yesterday.

As a result, the Bulldogs became the fifth third-seeded team to succumb to a No. 14 seed when their comeback efforts fell short in a 73-70 defeat to Tennessee-Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA Southeast Regional at the Charlotte Coliseum.

"They were really hungry and focused," Georgia coach Tubby Smith said of the Moccasins, the Southern Conference tournament champions. "We didn't play that bad, but we really couldn't wear them down."

"Whoever plays them next better be ready to play," added G.G. Smith, the coach's son. "UTC is no joke. They were really fired up and shot the ball real well. You just can't dig that big of a hole."

Red-hot UT-Chattanooga (23-10) zipped to a 20-2 lead in the first six minutes and shot 61.5 percent in the first half, then spent much of the second half in a 1-4 spread offense featuring guard Willie Young (24 points), who made many crucial baskets down the stretch.

Georgia -- the first team to beat Maryland this season -- unleashed several runs and pulled within 72-70 with 45.7 seconds left in the game.

Young continued to dribble away time on the next possession, then misfired on a drive. But Marquis Collier snagged the rebound and hit one of two free throws with 10.4 seconds to go.

Still with a chance to tie, Georgia had the ball in Smith's hands, but the Mocs' defense forced him to dribble away eight seconds while getting the ball into the forecourt. Then, after a timeout, XTC Smith was triple-teamed on the last attempt, and Collier blocked the shot.

That cemented UTC's second NCAA upset victory and third straight conquest of a Southeastern Conference school. The other NCAA win was by 58-51 over North Carolina State in the 1982 Mideast Regional.

Mocs coach Mack McCarthy -- who had been offered a five-year contract extension before the game -- said he went to the spread early because "Willie is very difficult to defend and he was doing a good job of making decisions.

"We knew we had to withstand some plays, and if we could get a big one every time they made a big basket, we'd be OK. We had to keep it in the right hands."

Duke 71, Murray State 68

Jeff Capel scored 12 of his 25 points in a 16-4 run in the opening four minutes of the second half and the second-seeded Blue Devils (24-8) held on -- barely -- to beat the 15th seed from Murray State (20-10).

Falling behind 51-39 after a 35-35 halftime tie, the Racers got back-to-back three-pointers from Vincent Rainey (23 points) and Chad Townsend in the last 9.8 seconds to cut an eight-point deficit to 70-68. Steve Wojciechowski (Cardinal Gibbons) made a free throw with 2.3 seconds left, and Rainey's 75-footer bounced off the backboard.

"We were really tight for the majority of the game," Capel said of the Blue Devils, who had lost three of their final four games. "They pressured us and made us take some tough shots, but we played well at the end. This is a huge win for us."

Illinois 90, Southern Cal 77

The Big Ten in general, and Illinois in particular, has not exactly been strutting in the NCAA tournament of late.

So, the sixth-seeded Illini did something about it, riding a big early advantage to a triumph over Southern California.

It was the first first-round victory for Illinois (22-9) since 1993 and the second in the school's past five NCAA appearances.

"We wanted to change the perception of what people say about us, that the Big Ten is not one of the toughest groups," said Illini forward Chris Gandy (21 points, seven rebounds).

Southern Cal (17-11) rallied from a 17-point, first-half deficit to tie at 69 with 5: 10 left, but the foul shooting of Illini guard Kiwane Garris deflated the comeback.

Garris made 13 straight free throws in the second half and finished with a game-high 27 points.

Providence 81, Marquette 59

With the clock expiring before halftime, Providence forward Austin Croshere calmly hurled home a three-pointer from the opposite foul line. That summed up the kind of night it was for Marquette.

The shot climaxed a 20-for-26 (77 percent) first half by the Friars and pushed them ahead by 18 points.

All-Big East selection Croshere finished with 39 points as Providence (22-11) ended a string of three straight first-round losses and moved into the second round.

Marquette had held its opponents to 35.7 percent from the field, second nationally, but had no defense for the Friars.

Pub Date: 3/15/97

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