Providence shows Chattanooga the exit Shammgod sends 10th seed into final vs. Arizona, 71-65

Southeast Regional

March 22, 1997|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The train stopped running for Chattanooga last night.

Coach Mack McCarthy and his Mocs from the Southern Conference had their heartwarming stay in the Southeast Regional end in a 71-65 semifinal loss to Providence, which itself didn't exactly head into the NCAA tournament with great expectations.

When it meets Arizona in tomorrow's regional final at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, 10th-seeded Providence (24-11) will attempt to become the lowest seed to reach the Final Four since 1986, when Louisiana State got there as a No. 11.

The Providence-Chattanooga game was the first meeting in tournament history between a No. 10 seed and a No. 14, as the Mocs were only the second No. 14 to get this far.

Before last week, the Friars, the lone Big East school in the Sweet 16, had gone 10 years between wins in the NCAA tournament, but they've been impressive in wins over Marquette, Duke and Chattanooga.

Providence got a huge lift down the stretch from God Shammgod. A sophomore guard from Harlem, Shammgod had 15 points and seven assists. Senior forward Austin Croshere scored 19 points. Center Ruben Garces and forward Jamel Thomas scored 12 apiece, and combined for 13 rebounds.

Senior forward Johnny Taylor, who showed himself to be an NBA prospect, had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Mocs, who had upset Georgia and Illinois in the first two rounds.

VTC Providence built a 38-28 lead early in the second half and was still ahead 42-35 with 14 minutes remaining, but the Mocs (24-11) began to find their range and scored nine straight points to go ahead 44-42. Chattanooga still led 47-44 after a three-point play by Chris Mims, but then Croshere sat down with his fourth foul and Shammgod took over.

"When Austin got his fourth foul the best way to keep us going was to keep pushing the ball upcourt," Shammgod said. "Thank God it went our way and we won."

Over the next four minutes, he had a driving basket, two free throws, a three-pointer and two assists, as his kick to the left wing set up an open three-pointer by Jamel Thomas. A few

minutes later, Thomas completed a 10-0 run with another three from the same spot, which put Providence on top 61-51.

"It's real hard, even with the loss, to be negative," McCarthy said.

Low seeds

Teams seeded in the lower half of their regionals that have advanced to the Elite Eight since 1985, when the field was expanded to 64 teams:

1986: LSU (11) reached Final Four

1987: LSU (10)

1990: Texas (10), Loyola Marymount (11)

1991: Temple (10)

1994: Boston College (9)

1997: Providence (10)

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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