Duke can't measure up, is ousted by Providence Friars' dominance inside finishes off Blue Devils, 98-87

March 17, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duke's topsy-turvy season veered off course for the final time yesterday in the NCAA Southeast Regional.

The Blue Devils' shortcomings were exposed again in their fourth loss in the last six games: the absence of depth inside, the dependence on the three-point shot and troubles on the backboards.

It didn't help that second-seeded Duke also caught a hot team in Providence, which turned a rash of easy baskets into 64.5 percent second-half shooting.

The outcome, then, was almost predictable. Providence won, 98-87, in a racehorse game and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the school's 1987 team reached the Final Four under Rick Pitino.

The Friars were out to prove something here after being snubbed by the NCAA tournament committee last year and continued the torrid shooting pace they had established in an 81-59, first-round romp over Marquette.

"The biggest challenge was to convince my players that we could win because Duke is Duke," said Providence coach Pete Gillen. "They're on TV more than 'Leave It To Beaver' reruns.

"As the game went on, our guys sensed something and thought we had a chance."

The 10th-seeded Friars capitalized on their superior musculature despite the best efforts of Duke senior Jeff Capel, who single-handedly kept his team in the game late with his long-range shooting and drives for scores.

With the only Blue Devils force inside, Roshown McLeod, fouled out at the 9: 08 mark, Providence (23-11) exploited Duke's small lineup while 6-10 Duke senior Greg Newton -- who spent the second half of the season in coach Mike Krzyzewski's doghouse -- languished on the bench.

Point guards God Shammgod and Corey Wright drove the middle with reckless abandon after McLeod left, forward Derrick Brown (career-high 33 points) cleared up around the basket and All-Big East forward Austin Croshere did his thing inside and out.

Asked if he considered going to a bigger lineup, Krzyzewski replied: "If that's the reason for the loss, I'll take the responsibility. Even if it's not the reason, I'll take the responsibility."

The question is academic because Krzyzewski thought his team was playing hard and well and simply got beat by an opponent playing at peak efficiency.

"I don't think there was anything wrong with our defense," said the coach's floor quarterback, Steve Wojciechowski. "We just caught a team at its best. Their smaller lineup was able to match our quickness. It was like seeing us on the other side of the ball."

Three baskets by Capel, including a three-pointer, ignited Duke's last-ditch run to a 74-74 tie. Then, Croshere hit a running jumper, Brown knocked in a layup after a no-look pass from Jamel Thomas, and Shammgod -- who was held in check in the first half by Wojciechowski -- converted a conventional three-point play.

After Capel's single free throw, Thomas scored on the break and Brown converted another feed from Thomas into an 85-75 margin. That was the end for the Atlantic Coast Conference's regular-season champions, whose best stretch was a seven-game winning streak that ended Feb. 23.

Providence finished with a whopping 43-24 advantage on the boards, with Brown and Croshere grabbing 10 rebounds apiece.

"Rebounding is heart and determination," said Gillen. "Our kids were possessed. And when McLeod fouled out it was a tremendous lift for us."

Brown said he played aggressively because "it could have been my last game. I just wanted to make something happen and not leave anything on the court."

The Friars certainly didn't leave anything at the Charlotte Coliseum.

PROVIDENCE -- Brown 12-16 7-8 33, Croshere 7-16 6-8 21, Garces 0-1 1-2 1, Shammgod 5-9 2-3 12, Thomas 7-12 1-2 17, Murdock 3-5 0-0 8, Wright 1-4 4-4 6. Totals 35-63 21-27 98.

DUKE -- Capel 9-13 4-5 26, Carrawell 4-7 4-4 12, McLeod 3-6 9-10 15, Wojciechowski 2-5 2-2 7, Langdon 4-13 4-4 15, Price 2-6 2-4 6, Domzalski 0-0 0-0 0, James 0-0 0-1 0, Chappell 3-9 0-1 6. Totals 27-59 25-31 87.

Halftime--Duke 46-42. 3-point goals--Providence 7-19 (Thomas 2-3, Murdock 2-3, Brown 2-4, Croshere 1-7, Wright 0-2), Duke 8-22 (Capel 4-5, Langdon 3-8, Wojciechowski 1-2, McLeod 0-1, Price 0-2, Chappell 0-4). Fouled out--Capel, McLeod. Rebounds--Providence 43 (Brown, Croshere 10), Duke 24 (Capel, Carrawell 5). Assists--Providence 18 (Shammgod 9), Duke 10 (Wojciechowski, Langdon 2). Total fouls--Providence 22, Duke 22. A--NA.

Pub Date: 3/17/97

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