Quick W. Michigan cuts down Clemson Broncos' Johnson hits for 32

Stanford, Purdue, Detroit also win openers

Midwest at Chicago

March 14, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

Western Michigan guard Rashod Johnson couldn't repeat much of the trash-talking that occurred during yesterday's first-round game against Clemson -- out of respect for his parents.

But he did recall a comment that Clemson guard Greg Buckner made in the second half, after the Tigers got back in the game following a 15-point first-half deficit.

"Buckner hit some big shots, and he was letting me know," Johnson said. "He told me he was going to hit 30 before the end of the game."

But it was Johnson who wound up making the big shots and surpassing 30. The 6-foot-2 shooting guard tied a Midwest Regional record with eight three-pointers on the way to a career-high 32 points to lead 11th-seeded Western Michigan to the 75-72 upset of sixth-seeded Clemson at the United Center.

Twenty of those points came in the second half, when Johnson played just 13 minutes. Four of his three-pointers came in the final 3: 48 of the game, helping the Broncos overcome a six-point deficit.

The biggest three-pointer came with 1: 31 left, during which Johnson was fouled by Clemson guard Johnny Miller, to break a 65-65 tie. Before stepping to the line, where he completed a rare four-point play, Johnson posed to the Western Michigan fans, and then bowed twice.

"It's the first time I ever bowed," Johnson said, laughing. "At that point, we had those guys on their heels."

And Clemson, representing the Atlantic Coast Conference, never recovered. Trailing 75-72 in the final seconds, the Tigers had a chance to tie the game, but never got a shot off as forward Tony Christie traveled with 11 seconds left.

In the end, the Tigers (18-14) had few answers for the perimeter play of Western Michigan (21-7). Forward Saddi Washington added 24 in what was basically a two-man scoring show for the Broncos.

"Western Michigan is as quick as any team we've seen all year," said Clemson coach Rick Barnes.

Stanford 67, College of Charleston 57: The Cardinal got a career-high 17 rebounds from 6-foot-8 forward Mark Madsen and two big three-pointers from reserve guard Ryan Mendez in beating the Cougars.

Mendez hit his first three-pointer with 3: 56 left, turning a one-point deficit to a 56-54 lead for Stanford. Less than a minute later, -- after the Cougars had tied the game at 56 -- Mendez gave the Cardinal the lead for good with another three-pointer.

Purdue 95, Delaware 56: The Boilermakers scored the first 18 points of the game and never looked back, advancing to the second round for the fifth straight year. Delaware, the American East champion, trailed by as many as 53 points.

Purdue's 39-point margin of victory was the fourth largest in Midwest Regional history (Indiana set the record of 43 in a 97-54 win over Wright State in 1993.).

Detroit 66, St. John's 64: What four years ago was expected to be the start of one of the most storied college basketball careers ended in tears last night for Red Storm guard Felipe Lopez.

With his team trailing by two in the final seconds, a potential game-winning three-point attempt by Lopez bounced off the front of the rim, allowing the Titans to escape with a mild upset.

Detroit's Derrick Hayes finished with a game-high 27 points -- 14 above his average. The smaller Titans were able to negate St. John's height advantage, limiting 6-foot-11 center Zendon Hamilton to 12 points and two rebounds in 36 minutes.

Pub Date: 3/14/98

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