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EAST REGIONAL / AT UNIONDALE, N.Y. : UConn Gags, but Doesn't Choke Against Rider

March 18, 1994|From Associated Press

No stranger to NCAA tournaments, but unused to such a lofty seeding, Connecticut found its first-round game Thursday fit like a Size-15 collar around a Size-19 neck.

Maybe it's because Rider was supposed to be easy.

The Broncs were anything but in the first half, holding leads as high as six points, but then Donyell Marshall took control and Connecticut, second-seeded in the East, rolled to a 64-46 victory at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

The Huskies (28-4) were tied, 29-29, at halftime and then Marshall, who had averaged 25.8 points a game but had only six points in the first half, scored nine in a 23-6 UConn run to start the second half.

"I was uptight a little. I think everyone was," said Marshall, who finished with 19 points, only the third time all season he has had fewer than 20. "I think we were afraid to lose. It's really our first time as big favorites, and we were nervous. I hope we got it out of our system."

Connecticut turned the game around with defense in the second half, holding Rider (21-9) to eight-for-32 shooting.

The Huskies, ranked fourth nationally, forced 15th-seeded Rider to miss 13 of its first 15 shots in the second half. Connecticut took advantage of the drought to turn the halftime tie into a 52-35 lead with 6:34 to play.

George Washington 51, Alabama Birmingham 46--The Colonials, the surprise team of last year's tournament when they went to the round of 16, survived a 20-point second half and will play Connecticut in the second round on Saturday.

Yinka Dare, a 7-foot-1 center, led 10th-seeded George Washington with 16 points.

"We're a good defensive team and we usually do well against perimeter teams. I wish some of our confidence on defense would transfer over to the offense," Coach Mike Jarvis said.

George Washington (18-11) made only six of 22 shots (27%) in the second half and survived a seven-minute scoreless stretch. That was because Alabama Birmingham (22-8) wasn't much better, shooting only 29%.

Florida 64, James Madison 62--Dan Cross drove through the lane for a running one-hander with 7.2 seconds to play to lift the Gators over the upset-minded Dukes.

Reserve guard Greg Williams, averaging two points in his freshman season, made a three-pointer with 48 seconds left, giving Florida a 62-60 lead, but Clayton Ritter made two free throws 15 seconds later, tying the score. Ritter scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half for 14th-seeded James Madison (20-10).

Cross scored 16 points to lead Florida (26-7), which made James Madison the first Lefty Driesell-coached team to lose in the first round in 12 NCAA appearances. All of his previous games were with Davidson and Maryland.

Pennsylvania 90, Nebraska 80--In one way, the Quakers looked like an Ivy league team: patient, accurate, intelligent. In another they didn't look like one at all: 11th-seeded Penn won.

The Quakers (25-2) became the first Ivy team to win an NCAA tournament game in 10 years, with Barry Pierce's 25 points leading.

"Talent-wise, this was not an upset," Pierce said.

Tradition-wise, it wasn't either. Fifth-seeded Nebraska is 0-5 in NCAA tournament games.

Jerome Allen added 19 points, Eric Moore 15 and Matt Maloney 12 for the Quakers, who made 11 three-pointers, milked the clock when they needed to, made the extra pass on offense and didn't let sixth-seeded Nebraska (20-9), which missed 17 of 20 three-point shots, get high-percentage shots.

Penn will play Saturday against Florida in the second round.

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