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Villanova Ousts Michigan, 59-55

March 18, 1985|HELENE ELLIOTT | Newsday

DAYTON, Ohio — The Big Ten champion was no big deal to Villanova, a team that had been force-fed a regular diet of Georgetown, St. John's and Syracuse.

"We heard it all," guard Gary McLain said. "We heard all the time how we were playing the Big Ten champs, Michigan, how they were ranked No. 2 in the country and had a long winning streak and everything. But there's nothing gonna intimidate us."

Even the Wolverines' front line, which regularly bulldozed through all comers and set the stage for the slick backcourt, was mincemeat for the Wildcats Sunday. Villanova, seeded eighth in the Southeast Regional, upset the Wolverines, 59-55, dismissing the bracket's top seed and ending the Wolverines' 17-game winning streak with an impressive display that rang of execution and experience.

In the Southeast's other second-round game, fifth-seeded Maryland rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half to wear down Navy, 64-59. The Terrapins (25-11) will face Villanova (21-10) Friday in Birmingham in a regional semi-final game.

With the elimination of Michigan (26-4), the Big Ten is almost out of NCAA representatives. The Big Ten and Big East each began the tournament with six entrants; four survive from the Big East, but only Illinois remains from the Big Ten.

"I was kidding Dwayne McClain yesterday," said Villanova coach Rollie Massimino, whose team is making its sixth straight NCAA appearance. "When he first came to Villanova, I was getting on him one day and told him, 'You have to play hard and jump and do certain things in this league,' and he said to me, 'The Big Ten is a physical league, not the Big East.' I reminded him of that and told him, 'Dwayne, you chose the Big East, not the Big Ten.' I'm glad he did. When he's shooting well and gets his motion and rhythm going, he can play with anybody."

McClain, a senior forward from Worcester, Mass., led all scorers with 20 points. Roy Tarpley, who averaged 19.2 points per game for Michigan and was the Big Ten player of the year, was limited to one basket in the second half and 14 overall.

Ed Pinckney, the Wildcats' 6-9 1/2 center, gave away an inch and a half to Tarpley but little else. "I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates," Pinckney said. "A lot of times Harold Pressley helped me out. In the first half, Tarpley got in front of me, so he got some points. But in the second, we trapped him."

The vaunted Wolverine backcourt of Antoine Joubert and Gary Grant was again neutralized as it had been by Fairleigh Dickinson in Michigan's 59-55 opening-round victory Friday. Grant, a freshman, was scoreless Sunday and Joubert had only four points at the half and 12 overall. Both fouled out in the final minutes.

"I think our experience was really important," said Massimino, who started three seniors and two juniors against Michigan's three juniors, one sophomore and one freshman. "You have to feel sorry for Gary Grant. In games like this, experience does become important."

Michigan coach Bill Frieder concurred. "Our inexperience showed in careless turnovers and missed free throws," said Frieder, whose team was 18-for-27 from the free-throw line in two games. "Gary was an example of a freshman in this type of game for the first time. He hasn't played that well on the road all season, and he has a lot of work to do.

"It was the type of game we expected. We were hopeful we could get ahead and push for a higher-scoring game, but they did a great job of controlling the tempo. In the second half we made some little runs and got a little lead, but we just didn't sustain it. They came back and from there, played almost perfect. We forced them to take perimeter shots and they made them. We made them shoot from the line, and they made those.

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