Monday, February 15, 1999
UC falls apart before halftime
BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A crucial sequence late in the first half contributed to UC's third consecutive loss, even though the Bearcats still carried 30-27 lead over Saint Louis into the break.
UC was up seven points when it collected a Saint Louis miss with just under 50 seconds left and pushed for a 2-for-1 possession exchange, attempting to shoot well before the 35-second mark so they would have two trips in the final minute. Melvin Levett missed a jumper that was rebounded by Aaron McGhee with 38 seconds left, and UC's coaches at that point called out to hold for a final shot.
Before their voices could carry to the opposite end of the floor, McGhee threw away the ball. Saint Louis pushed the ball on the break and missed a layup that UC was free to rebound, but Fletcher needlessly set his hands on SLU's Ryan Luechtefeld and was called for a foul. He made both free throws.
For the third consecutive time in which UC encountered a last-possession situation, it wound up with a guard going one-on-one and without a basket to show for it. Steve Logan's hanging jumper rolled off the rim with seven seconds left and was rebounded by the Billikens. Luechtefeld dribbled upcourt and tried a one-hander that missed, but nobody from UC blocked out SLU center Matt Baniak, who followed with a stunning tip-slam.
It was very important, Luechtefeld said. Matt's dunk at the end of the half gave us a lot of momentum.
UC guard Levett was involved, in a sense, in both of the technical fouls that hurt the Bearcats' cause.
UC's doom was sealed when Bearcats guard Levett was called for a technical foul for throwing SLU guard Ryan Robertson to the floor. It was a five-point margin when the Billikens started shooting free throws, and an 11-point margin when Robertson earned a foul on the resulting possession and made both.
The play that directly resulted in a technical against coach Bob Huggins was an apparent push-off by Baniak that wasn't called, but Huggins was still steaming over no call when Levett nearly created a steal at midcourt but was held back as he tried to pursue the ball. The Billikens recovered and turned it into a 4-on-1 break that ended with a Dave Fergerson three-pointer that cut UC's lead from six points to three with 8 minutes left.
UC freshman forward Eugene Land did not play because of a knee injury that occurred in the first half of the Bearcats' loss to Marquette.
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