Sunday, February 07, 1999

DePAUL 61, UC 60

Victory 'stolen' from Bearcats

The Cincinnati Enquirer

DePaul's Willie Coleman watches his game-winning free throw drop in the basket.
(AP photo)

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        ROSEMONT, Ill. — Was it DePaul's Willie Coleman who stole this game from the Cincinnati Bearcats? Or was it official Paul Kaster?

        UC forward Pete Mickeal had his opinion, shared by several teammates, after DePaul's 61-60 upset of UC Saturday.

        “They screwed us. You give a referee who doesn't like us a chance to make a call like that, and he's going to do it.”

        Coleman is the DePaul senior guard whose steal from Alvin Mitchell and subsequent free throw forced overtime in Saturday's Conference USA game between the No. 3 Bearcats and the young Blue Demons.

        C-USA's reigning steals champion, Coleman also swiped the ball from UC guard Melvin Levett with the score tied in the closing seconds of the extra period and drew a foul call on Levett — whistled by Kaster — that was nearly as controversial as the botched call by official Tom O'Neill that contributed to the Bearcats' first loss at UNC Charlotte.

Bob Huggins didn't comment on the officials after the game.
(AP photo)

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        With no time on the clock and the score tied, Coleman went to the line for two free throws. After the first bounced back toward him, Coleman sent the second through the goal for the victory.

        “I was happy just to make one and win the game,” Coleman said. “I stole the ball, and I looked up and saw like one second on the clock, and I saw Levett next to me. So I tried to lean in and throw the ball up and see if I could convert a foul.”

        That's pretty much what the Bearcats (21-2, 8-2) saw: A situation in which no advantage was gained because no actual play was being made.

        “I had my hands up, and he called a push,” Levett said. “I can't hardly push with my hands in the air.”

Aaron McGhee scraps for a loose ball.
(AP photo)

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        The call it obscured a horrid performance by the Bearcats, once among the nation's best at handling the ball but suddenly among the most generous in handing it to the opposing team.

        After committing six turnovers in their win against Oklahoma, they were averaging 12.6 turnovers per game. They've committed 18 or more in five of the past six games, including a season-high 23 against DePaul (12-9, 6-5).

        “We don't have our heads up. We throw the ball into the post, and they throw it back out instead of turning to the goal. We throw soft passes. We have very little motion in our offense,” coach Bob Huggins said. “It's been very, very difficult to get them to concentrate.”

        UC blew an 11-point lead that stood with 5:58 remaining and did not score for the final 3:34 of regulation.

        Huggins made a slick shift to a 3-2 zone after DePaul scored on three consecutive possessions and cut the deficit to seven near the 8-minute mark. That defense forced five consecutive empty trips for the Blue Demons,but UC only pushed the lead to 47-36.

        After DePaul cut it to a four-point deficit on freshman forward Quentin Richardson's three-pointer with 2:38 left, the Bearcats' shooting became more erratic. UC forward Ryan Fletcher missed two short jumpers, he and Kenyon Martin both rolled out easy tips.

        “I had the open shots the whole game, but they weren't going down,” Fletcher said. “I knew they were getting worn out, and I knew I had to knock down some shots.”

        Coleman's play to force overtime might have been more damaging to UC, which held a 49-48 lead with 16 seconds left.

        DePaul did not hurry to foul UC guard Steve Logan, an 85 percent shooter, but the Blue Demons converged when he passed to Mitchell.

        He tried to force the ball back to Logan. The ball was deflected and picked up by Coleman. Mitchell fouled to stop a drive with 13 seconds left, and Coleman made the second free throw to tie it.

        UC's attempt to win in regulation yielded nothing more potent than a Logan drive and pull-up jumper, not his typical scoring play.

        “We got ahead, and we just wanted to stay ahead, instead of crushing them,” Fletcher said. “If we don't, stuff like this can happen.”

        The overtime was dominated early by Richardson, who scored eight of his game-high 25 points to give his team a 57-51 lead with 3:05 left.

        It was dominated late by Fletcher, who led the Bearcats with 15 and scored all 11 of their points in the OT period. That included a three over Demons center Lance Williams that put the Bearcats ahead, 60-58, with 48 seconds left.

        Richardson scored on a tip-in with 15 seconds left to tie the game again, and the Bearcats cleared out for Levett to take the last shot. Coleman stayed with him, swiping the ball as Levett tried a crossover move.

        “I'm hurt right now,” Levett said, referring not to the spot on his brow where he was elbowed by Richardson. “I'm totally hurt. Being a senior, being a leader, you try not to let those things happen.”

'13 Cross' right call vs. UC
Notebook: Martin fuming over few minutes, many fouls

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Tate            14   0-0   0-0   0-3  0  4    0
Mickeal         37   3-8   3-5   4-9  3  4    9
Martin          18   1-3   0-0   1-1  0  5    2
Horton          10   2-4   0-0   0-1  1  1    4
Levett          42  4-11   2-3   1-4  3  3   11
Mitchell         3   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
Logan           39  6-13   0-0   2-6  3  2   13
Fletcher        34  6-13   2-2   3-9  2  1   15
Land             4   1-2   2-2   0-0  0  1    4
Mcghee          24   0-3   2-2   3-7  1  4    2
TOTALS         225 23-57 11-14 14-41 13 25   60

Percentages: FG-.404, FT-.786. 3-Point Goals:
3-12, .250 (Levett 1-6, Logan 1-5, Fletcher 1-1).
Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 5 (Martin 3,
Tate, Mcghee). Turnovers: 23 (Mickeal 6, Fletcher
4, Levett 4, Horton 3, Logan 2, Mitchell 2,
Martin, Mcghee). Steals: 5 (Martin 2, Horton,
Logan, Mickeal).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Richardson      41  8-21   7-9  9-11  1  1   25
Simmons         28   4-8   0-1   1-4  2  1    8
Williams        42  7-13   2-5   3-8  0  3   16
Hartfield       38   1-3   0-0   0-2  5  4    2
Coleman         32   2-9   3-6   0-1  1  2    9
Peoples          5   0-1   0-0   0-0  0  3    0
Burno           27   0-3   1-3   0-3  7  3    1
Cooper           9   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Avery            3   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  0    0
TOTALS         225 22-58 13-24 13-30 16 18   61

Percentages: FG-.379, FT-.542. 3-Point Goals:
4-15, .267 (Richardson 2-5, Simmons 0-2,
Hartfield 0-2, Coleman 2-4, Burno 0-2). Team
rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 1 (Peoples).
Turnovers: 17 (Simmons 4, Coleman 3, Hartfield 3,
Burno 2, Richardson 2, Williams 2, Avery).
Steals: 16 (Burno 4, Coleman 4, Simmons 4,
Hartfield 2, Richardson, Williams).
Cincinnati         26   23   11  -   60
Depaul             22   27   12  -   61
Technical fouls: Cincinnati 1 (Martin).  Depaul 1
(Williams).  A: 15,816. Officials: Paul Kaster,
Keith Maxwell, Sam Croft.

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