Barmore is hoping to erase '94 Tech coach still reminded of last-second loss in final

Women's notebook

March 28, 1998|By Milton Kent and Christian Ewell | Milton Kent and Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore has two NCAA championship trophies -- as many as any women's coach not named Pat Summitt, but he's haunted by the one that got away.

That would be the 1994 title, won by North Carolina on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Charlotte Smith -- perhaps the most dramatic shot in women's tournament history.

"Listen, I thought this would come up earlier than it did," said Barmore, after last night's 84-65 win over North Carolina State to earn the Lady Techsters a berth in tomorrow night's national championship game.

"That was the most hurtful thing that has happened to me in my coaching career, and I would appreciate it if I didn't have to relive that event. It took me a long time to get over it."

On the play, Barmore, leading 59-57 with 00.7 left, designed a defense concentrated on All-America guard Tonya Sampson down low. But Smith, the niece of former Wolfpack great David Thompson, was left wide open behind the three-point line, where she had hit only 28 percent of her shots that season.

Smith hit the shot and gave the Tar Heels their only national title. Barmore will get his sixth chance for a championship tomorrow.

"I will concentrate on winning this next game. What happened in 1994 will not be a factor to me one bit," said Barmore.

Bittersweet moments

While being named to the Kodak All-America team for a second straight year, Old Dominion senior point guard Ticha Penicheiro tried her best to hide her disappointment that the Lady Monarchs weren't playing in last night's national semifinal.

"Sometimes N.C. State pops into my head, and I could be thinking about it, but why have any negative thoughts that will ruin my weekend?" said Penicheiro.

Though she had enough credits to graduate, Penicheiro, a 5-foot-11 native of Portugal, returned for her senior year to try to lead Old Dominion back to the Final Four. The Lady Monarchs lost to Tennessee in the 1997 championship game, and received the No. 1 seed in the East this year, but lost to North Carolina State in the regional semifinal.

Pub Date: 3/28/98

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