Friday, January 15, 1999

UNC CHARLOTTE 62, UC 60


First loss tough to take

BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[charlotte]
UNCC's Diego Guevara (22) reacts after hitting a three-pointer in the closing moments.
(AP photo)

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        CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UNC Charlotte blew the whistle on the Cincinnati Bearcats' unbeaten basketball season, on forward Pete Mickeal's 87-game winning streak and on another UC attempt at escaping with a narrow road victory.

        UC lost 62-60 here Thursday night, marking its first defeat in 16 games this season.

        With 17 seconds left, 49ers guard Diego Guevara went to the foul line to shoot a one-and-one free throw with his team ahead by two points. After Guevara missed the first, however, official Tom O'Neill inadvertently blew his whistle, thinking UNCC was in a double-bonus situation.

        An ensuing fastbreak three-pointer by UC guard Melvin Levett was then wiped away, as easily as Guevara's second-half, three-point barrage held off the Bearcats here at Halton Arena.

        “That killed us,” Levett said of the whistle, which he said he heard as he was getting ready to release his shot. “We fought to get back even though we played terrible, and then that happens to us.”

[martin]
Kenyon Martin dunks.
(AP photo)

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        “I can't say anything. What am I going to say?” UC coach Bob Huggins said. “I'm not allowed to comment. You can pretty much guess.

        “They played better than we did. They attacked us. We didn't attack them. We've got to stop doing that.”

        Stop doing what?

        “Not playing. We had no enthusiasm. It was like we thought we were going to come out and just win the game.”

        UC still had its chance to tie, but after the Bearcats got the ball to center Kenyon Martin on the baseline with three seconds left, UNCC forward Tremaine Gardiner purposefully committed a foul.

        “It was a gamble,” UNCC coach Bobby Lutz said. “Tremaine is a smart player. I told him not to let Martin get it, but if he did, we were going to foul him and make him go one-and-one.”

        Martin's free throw with 3 seconds left rolled softly off the rim, and UC forward Jermaine Tate's attempt to pass the rebound into the lane rolled softly away from everyone in a UC uniform.

[logan]
Steve Logan is hounded by Guevara.
(AP photo)

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        Only Auburn and Connecticut are now unbeaten in Division I basketball. And for Mickeal, it was his first defeat since November of 1996.

        The No. 3-ranked Bearcats (15-1, 4-1 C-USA) rallied from 14 down in the first half and 11 behind in the second behind Martin's 16 points, 13 from Levett and 20 by freshman guard Steve Logan, but Guevara's 12 late points on an injured ankle were the difference for UNCC (10-6, 2-2).

        “I'm just glad they blew the whistle on that play at the end,” Guevara said. “When he went down and hit that 3-pointer, I was like, "Oh, no, this can't be happening.”'

        Added Lutz: “I've been saying all along that Cincinnati is one of precious few teams in the country capable of winning the national championship, and for us to beat them is a real accomplishment.”

        UC played most of the first half without starting point guard Michael Horton, who injured his right ankle just three possessions into the game. He was replaced by Logan, who nailed a three-pointer for the first Bearcats basket and eventually made two more in the first half. But he struggled early to get the ball inside against a UNCC defense that overplayed Martin and often bracketed him with two men.

[myrick]
Shawn Myrick and Pete Mickeal trap Kedric Smith.
(AP photo)

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        The Bearcats went through the first nine minutes of the game without a rebound, trailing 12-0 in that category. They also fell behind 23-9 on the scoreboard, their largest deficit of the season.

        UC was fortunate to trail just 37-33 at the break, but found itself down 11 after going scoreless through the first four minutes of the second half.

        UC got its first second-half score from Logan on a baseline drive with 15:28 left. It was 44-35 then, and Logan's physical advantage over the injured Guevara was becoming more of an edge for the Bearcats.

        Guevara sprained his ankle Sunday against Memphis and barely practiced before this game. Although he is one of C-USA's best shooters, he missed his first eight attempts against the Bearcats.

        Defensively, he could not stay with Logan, who followed a three-point play by Martin near the 14-minute mark with a three-pointer that got UC back to a 46-41 deficit.

[fans]
Charlotte fans celebrate.
(AP photo)

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        When Mickeal made two free throws and Martin pulled down a rebound and scored on a jump-hook with 7:47 left, it was tied at 52.

        Guevara erased that with his second three-pointer just seconds later, leading to a switch of defensive assignments that left Levett guarding him.

        UC got its first lead, 56-55, with 5:42 left when Logan drove and pulled up for a floating one-hander. But Levett's intensity was fading. He gave up a three to Guevara he could have prevented by rushing to recover from a screen, and then he let a rebound go that he could have claimed with ease.

        Levett heard about it during a 20-second timeout. He collected the next two 49ers misses. He did not, however, pick up Guevara in transition after Martin missed a chance to break a 58-all tie. Guevara's fourth three in a row did it just before the two-minute warning.

        The Associated Press contributed to this report

        UC NOTEBOOK


CINCINNATI (60)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Fletcher        10   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Mickeal         38   2-8   5-6   2-2  2  4    9
Martin          40  7-12   2-4   4-8  1  3   16
Levett          36   4-8   2-2   0-6  1  0   13
Horton           1   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Myrick           5   0-1   0-0   0-1  2  2    0
Tate            29   1-3   0-2   2-3  0  2    2
Mitchell         2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Logan           37  7-13   2-2   1-2  3  2   20
Land             1   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
Mcghee           1   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  0    0
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 21-47 11-16  9-23  9 14   60
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.447, FT-.688. 3-Point Goals:
7-13, .538 (Levett 3-5, Logan 4-8). Team
rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 3 (Martin 2, Tate).
Turnovers: 11 (Levett 2, Logan 2, Tate 2,
Fletcher, Horton, Mickeal, Myrick). Steals: 4
(Mickeal 2, Martin, Myrick).


NC CHARLOTTE (62)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Young           35   5-8   1-1   1-3  3  3   12
Gardiner        35  4-10   1-2   1-6  2  4    9
Price           26   3-6   0-0   2-3  0  5    6
Guevara         35  4-14   0-1   0-2  3  3   12
M Thomas        28   4-5   3-3   2-3  0  1   13
Smith            5   0-0   0-0   0-0  1  0    0
J Thomas        18   2-5   0-0   0-1  4  0    6
Neely           18   2-3   0-0   4-5  0  2    4
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 24-51   5-7 10-23 13 18   62
_______________________________________________


Percentages: FG-.471, FT-.714. 3-Point Goals:
9-17, .529 (Young 1-1, Guevara 4-10, M Thomas
2-2, J Thomas 2-4). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked
shots: 1 (Young). Turnovers: 14 (Young 5, Guevara
3, Gardiner 2, M Thomas, Neely). Steals: 4 (Young
2, Guevara, M Thomas).
__________________________________
Cincinnati         33   27  -   60
Nc Charlotte       37   25  -   62
__________________________________
Technical fouls: None.  A: 9,105. Officials: Tom
O'neill, Tim Higgins, Tom Rucker.