Trojans Stunned By UNC Wilmington, 93-89, In OT
March 14, 2002
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - So much for building basketball tradition atSouthern California.
The fourth-seeded Trojans rallied from a 19-point deficit to force overtime,but 13th-seeded North Carolina Wilmington stunned USC 93-89 Thursday night inthe South Regional.
USC freshman Errick Craven hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining to sendthe game into overtime tied at 80.
But in the five-minute extra session, the Seahawks steadied themselves andoutscored the Trojans 13-9 to earn their first NCAA tournament victory. UNCWlost to Cincinnati two years ago in its only other appearance.
Last year, USC (22-10) reached the final eight for the first time since1954, and lost to eventual national champion Duke.
UNCW, a 10,599-student school from Michael Jordan's hometown of Wilmington,N.C., made just one field goal in the final 9.5 minutes of regulation.
But the Trojans were stymied offensively in overtime. Sam Clancy, who ledUSC with 21 points, missed three tries on USC's first possession, then Cravenmissed a layup.
USC seniors Clancy, David Bluthenthal and Brandon Granville, key componentsof the Trojans' tournament run last year, all fouled out in overtime. TheTrojans shot 43 percent for the game.
Brent Blizzard got UNCW going with a three-point play for an 83-80 lead.Craven tied the game with a three-point play, but Clancy missed and then arebound slipped out of Jerry Dupree's hands.
UNCW's Stewart Hare scored four points, including an emphatic dunk, in thefinal 45 seconds of overtime.
Desmon Farmer drew USC to 91-89 on a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left inovertime, but Blizzard got fouled and made both free throws to end the game.Farmer finished with 20 points and Bluthenthal added 19.
The Seahawks (23-9), whose victories are a school record, made 52 percent oftheir field goals in the first half, knocking down uncontested shots from allover the court. Blizzard finished with 18 points, as did Craig Callahan beforefouling out in regulation.
UNCW came into the game holding opponents to 40 percent field-goal shooting.The Seahawks, who've won five in a row and 11 of their last 13, got off todominating starts in both halves, and left USC scrambling.
The Trojans hit just 35 percent in the first half, when they trailed bynine. Four minutes into the second half, USC trailed by 19 - its largestdeficit of the game.
USC earned its highest seeding this year, a reward for finishing tied forsecond in the Pac-10 Conference and for reaching the conference tournamentfinal, where it lost to Arizona.
But the smothering defense the Trojans played so effectively against Arizonawas nowhere to be seen Thursday.
It was USC's sixth first-round tournament exit and first since 1997, whenthe Trojans lost to Illinois 90-77.