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NCAA Tournament Recap (Detroit-UCLA)

Posted: Fri March 12, 1999 at 2:14 a.m EST

INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Rashad Phillips' two free throws with 1:19 to play gave Detroit the lead for good as the 12th-seeded Titans shocked fifth-seeded UCLA, 56-53, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the South Region.

Jermaine Jackson scored 17 points and Phillips added 16 for Detroit, which will play fourth-seeded Ohio State in the second round Saturday. The Titans (25-5), who entered the game second in the nation in scoring defense at 54.7 points per game, clamped down on UCLA in the second half, holding the Bruins to 21 points in the final 20 minutes.

"I am really proud of my guys," said Titans coach Perry Watson. "They really hung in there when we got down by nine points. The guys didn't complain, they just sucked it up and gave us a chance to win the game."

Baron Davis scored 16 points before fouling out on the play that led to Phillips' decisive free throws. UCLA (22-9) lost in the first round under coach Steve Lavin for the first time in his three seasons with the Bruins, who have won 11 NCAA Tournament titles.

"We felt we let ourselves down," said Bruins forward JaRon Rush. "We felt that we had the game won, up five coming out of a timeout and came out playing loose. Then after Baron fouled out, that really drained us emotionally because he's our floor leader."

UCLA held a seemingly safe 48-42 lead with 6:21 to play after a 3-pointer by Ray Young, but Bacari Alexander hit two free throws and Desmond Ferguson buried a 3-pointer of his own to pull Detroit within 48-47. Daniel Whye made two free throws to push the Titans ahead with 1:53 left, but Davis streaked downcourt for a lay-in as the Bruins took their last lead at 49-48.

Phillips tried to drive past Davis on the left side and drew the fifth foul on the sophomore. Detroit had a chance to build on the lead after Ferguson stripped Ryan Bailey, but Phillips turned the ball over.

"We set our goals high, at the beginning of the year, Jermaine and I told each other that every time we go out on the court, we will go after the backcourt," said Phillips. "That is what we came out to do today with Baron Davis and Earl Watson."

Jerome Moiso missed a jumper, and Whye hit an ugly 18-footer with 10 seconds left to make it 53-50. Eric Watson missed a 3-pointer, and Ferguson sank two foul shots with four seconds to play. JaRon Rush made a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left, but Alexander sealed the win with two more foul shots.

"It is not only great for the University of Detroit-Mercy, but it is also great for any of the other so-called Cinderella schools out there. We go out and give everything we have to produce great results," said Alexander. "I think our defense prevailed and we were able to keep them below their scoring average and keep their percetages low -- that is our type of game and we came out victorious."

UCLA opened the second half with an 8-1 run to take its largest lead of the half at 40-31 on a dunk by Young with 15:23 to go. The Bruins took a 9-3 lead early in the game, but Jackson and Darius Berlin had five points apiece in a 17-5 tear as the Titans held a 20-14 lead with 10:16 left in the first half.

Neither team shot well as the Titans made less than 33 percent (16-of-49) from the field and the Bruins made 38 percent at 19-of-50. Rush had 10 points and 13 rebounds for UCLA, but made only 2-of-11 from the field. The Bruins hurt themselves by making just 5-of-12 from the line, while Detroit connected on 18-of-23.

"They got some key stops when they needed it," said Bruins coach Steve Lavin. "There were a couple of loose ball situations where we didn't come up with it and a couple of rebounds they secured when we didn't. We knew going into the game, Detroit was going to be as competitive of a team that we have faced. They play great defense, they're a great team."

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP

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