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Western Michigan Acts Big-Time

March 14, 1998|Associated Press

CHICAGO — Rashod Johnson wanted to share the biggest and most important performance of his basketball career, so he did what any actor might do.

He bowed to his fans.

"That's the first time I've ever bowed. It just happened. I don't know what to say," Johnson said Friday after making eight three-point baskets to lead No. 11-seeded Western Michigan to a 75-72 victory over No. 6 Clemson in the Midwest Regional.

"I just wanted to thank the crowd for being here. I try to show emotion on the floor."

Western Michigan (21-7) used its quickness to build a big first-half lead and then didn't fade after Clemson (18-14) rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half to take a six-point lead.

Johnson converted a go-ahead four-point play with 1:31 left, and then made a three-point shot. He then began waving his arms as the Broncos moved closer to completing their upset.

Johnson, who played the final 10 minutes with four fouls, finished with a career-high 32 points and tied a region record for three-point baskets.

"He is an emotional youngster," Coach Bob Donewald said. "Some kids do some of the things he does and you'd say he's being a phony but that's really Rashod."

Johnson, who took 15 three-point shots, combined with Saddi Washington--who had 24 points--to take 43 of Western Michigan's 61 field goal attempts.

"We knew that Rashod and Saddi would be their team," Clemson Coach Rick Barnes said. "That's what they depend on and we did not do what we had to do with those two guys. They deserved to win."

Stanford 67, College of Charleston 57--Just when it seemed the College of Charleston would pull off another first-round upset, Stanford was saved by Mark Madsen inside and Ryan Mendez on the perimeter.

Madsen had 16 points and 17 rebounds and Mendez made two important three-point shots, including the tiebreaking basket with 3:05 to play for Stanford.

Reserve Danny Johnson scored 15 points for Charleston (24-6), which upset Maryland in last year's first round before losing by four points to eventual champion Arizona.

The Cougars looked ready to shock another big-time opponent, effectively neutralizing Stanford's decisive height advantage and taking a 52-48 lead on Johnson's three-point play with 6:51 to go.

Madsen had tip-in, Mendez made a free throw and Madsen scored on after another rebound to put Stanford (27-4) ahead. After a tip-in by Johnson, Mendez made a three-point shot from the left baseline to put Stanford up, 56-54.

Carl Thomas tied the score for Charleston before Mendez made an NBA-length three-point shot to put the Cardinal ahead to stay.

Stanford plays Western Michigan in the second round Sunday.

Purdue 95, Delaware 56--The Boilermakers (27-7) took an 18-0 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes and led by as many as 53 points in one of the most-lopsided Midwest Regional games ever.

Second-seeded Purdue (27-7), in its sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance, will face Detroit in Sunday's second round.

Mike Robinson scored 19 points, Brian Cardinal had 16 and Brad Miller 15 for Purdue, which shot 60% from the field in taking a 53-17 lead at halftime.

Nothing seemed to go right for jittery Delaware (20-10). The jittery Blue Hens shot 14% and had 14 turnovers in the first half.

The most lopsided game in the 43 years of the Midwest Regional came in 1993 when Indiana beat Wright State by 43. Cincinnati defeated DePaul by 40 in 1960 and Louisville matched that total against Kansas State in 1968.

Detroit 66, St. John's 64--Derrick Hayes scored 27 points as the Titans (25-5) won its first NCAA tournament game since 1977--when Dick Vitale was their coach.

Tyrone Grant scored 14 points for St. John's (22-10), making its first NCAA appearance in five years.

The loss marked the end of Felipe Lopez's career. A heralded recruit four years ago, Lopez finished as the Red Storm's No. 3 scorer with 1,927 points but never quite lived up to expectations.

He had 11 points against Detroit and missed a tying three-point attempt with 15 seconds left and a potential winning three-point shot just before the final buzzer. He fell to the court in anguish after his second miss.

"I thought about all my years at St. John's," Lopez said when asked what went through his mind. "I realized today was our last game as seniors and I had the opportunity right in my hand."

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