Patient Princeton puts away UNLV Threes, defense carry Tigers, 69-57

UNCC handles UIC

East at Hartford, Conn.

Ncaa Tournament

March 13, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

HARTFORD, Conn. -- It was the classic fable of the tortoise vs. the hare at the Hartford Civic Center last night, and the tortoise won again.

Princeton's Ivy League champions used their precise three-point shooting and demoralizing backdoor plays to oust the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, 69-57, in the opening round of the East Regionals.

The Tigers (27-1) were not perfect in conducting their usual basketball clinic. They trailed 20-15 after the first 11 minutes.

"UNLV was coming in with a lot of emotion from winning their [WAC] tourney and we hadn't played in 10 days," said Princeton coach Bill Carmody, now 51-5 in two seasons. "I thought we came out a little tentative."

The Rebels concentrated on packing in their zone defense to discourage the backdoor layups and Princeton started out missing its long-range shots.

But then came a flurry of threes by juniors Brian Earl and Gabe Lewullis and slashing drives by Mitch Henderson. It all added up to a 20-0 spurt by the Tigers and a 35-20 cushion before UNLV's Kevin Simmons beat the halftime buzzer with a layup.

The Rebels (20-13) made one last run. With guard Mark Dickel penetrating the defense and senior forward Tyrone Nesby (19 points) finding his three-point touch, UNLV closed to 54-49 with 6: 37 left, again raising speculation that Princeton was simply the champion of a weak league.

But that notion was quickly dispelled. After a timeout, the Tigers went back to basics, beginning with a layup by Earl (21 points) on an out-of-bounds play. That began a string of six straight layups by Princeton and a 64-51 advantage with 4: 26 left.

"We want to force the other team to play defense for close to 25 seconds," said Lewullis (17 points). "If we score after 20 seconds, it's hard to take."

Senior center Steve Goodrich, who scored all nine of his points in the second half, said his team felt the pressure of being a No. 5 seed.

"We were a little nervous at the start," he said.

Michigan State 83, Eastern Michigan 71: Mateen Cleaves, called for three fouls in the first half while guarding 5-foot-5 phenom Earl Boykins, played without fear in the second half to lead Michigan State (21-7) over Eastern Michigan in the first round.

Cleaves finished with 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting and stayed out of foul trouble in the final 20 minutes to help the 16th-ranked and fourth-seeded Spartans advance to tomorrow's second round against Princeton.

Charlie Bell added a career-high 22 points for Michigan State.

The game was delayed for a few minutes after the lights suddenly went out with 3: 15 remaining and Michigan State leading 73-62. The rest of the game was played in a dimmed

arena.

Derrick Dial led Eastern Michigan (20-10) with 29 points. He was 8-for-10 in the first half but finished 11-for-22 from the field.

Boykins finished with 18 points but missed nine of his 10 three-point shots and was 6-for-21 from the floor. He had one assist.

UNC-Charlotte 77, Illinois-Chicago 62: Illinois-Chicago couldn't diffuse North Carolina Charlotte's DeMarco Johnson or contain Sean Colson.

The two seniors led UNCC to victory in the first round of the NCAA East Regional, ending the Flames' (22-6) first appearance in the tournament and securing a much-hyped matchup against North Carolina. Their second-round matchup with the 49ers tomorrow will be the first meeting between the in-state rivals.

Pub Date: 3/13/98

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