UMass escapes with needed win
By Marty Dobrow, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff, 12/23/96

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- It was a great game to win simply because it would have been an absolutely devastating game to lose.

The University of Massachusetts Minutemen came down to Wilmington -- birthplace of Michael Jordan, collegiate home of John Calipari (for a season and a half) and second fastest growing city in America -- and pulled a great escape Sunday. With some late heroics by Carmelo Travieso on the offensive end and a monumental steal by Inus Norville, UMass edged past the UNCW Seahawks, 47-46 at Trask Coliseum.

Travieso scored the game's final five points, an ice-veined 3-pointer from the left corner with 25 seconds left, and two icier free throws with nine seconds remaining. The Minutemen were then able to hold off UNCW on the game's final possession when Norville poked the ball away from Stan Simmons to seal the win.

"I think this was big for our pysche," rasped out coach Bruiser Flint, his spent voice sounding Bill Clinton after a campaign marathon. A loss would have sent the Minutemen home for Christmas in as unmerry a mood as possible. The combination of bad play, bad luck and offcourt turmoil would have reached dispiriting depths with a loss to a Colonial Athletic Conference entry with a losing record (now 3-6). Yes, the Seahawks had been playing well (throttling Mississippi State by 17 the day before), but a UMass loss here would have turned warning bells into the toll of something ending. Talk of one of college sport's most precipitous declines would have been unavoidable.

And while one win does not make the world completely well, it does send the 4-6 Minutemen home with a glimmer of hope.

For UNCW, the holiday will include some pondering of what might have been. "We got the proverbial piece of coal in our stocking," said Seahawk coach Jerry Wainwright.

They almost struck gold. A hard-fought defensive struggle appeared headed for a home victory when Billy Donlon (a team-high 10 points) hit both ends of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with 33.2 seconds left for a 46-42 lead.

Facing its most critical possession of the season, UMass steamed upcourt, running a play called "Trailer" that freed Travieso in the left corner. The senior guard elevated and nailed the 3-pointer to cut the gap to one point, and UMass called timeout with 25 seconds left.

The Seahawks tried to inbound to the sharp-shooting Donlon, but Travieso guarded him well, and the ball came in instead to Keith Spencer, who was fouled immediately by Charlton Clarke. Spencer, a 6-6 sophomore forward, clanged the front end of the one-and-one high off the back rim, and Norville skied for the rebound.

UMass got the ball to Travieso on the right wing. He drove left, stumbled slightly and veered awkwardly to the left, firing up an off-balance shot that didn't get close to the rim. Lamont Franklin was whistled for the foul, though, after apparently slapping Travieso on the elbow.

With the UNCW crowd summoning all manner of distraction, Travieso coolly dropped in both free throws to give UMass the 47-46 lead with nine seconds remaining.

The Seahawks got the ball into the frontcourt under tight pressure, then called timeout with 4.1 seconds remaining. Mark Byington got set to inbound the ball, guarded by a leaping by Mike Babul. The pass came in to Simmons, a springy 5-11 guard who dribbled left toward the key and tried to slice into the lane when Norville poked the ball away.

As time ran out, the UMass players danced with a mixture of glee and profound relief.

"One thing we didn't want to do, win or lose, was to quit," said Travieso, who led all scorers with 21 points. "We didn't panic. We just made plays. We executed at the end."

The foul on Franklin that resulted in Travieso's winning free throws will not be a happy memory for the Seahawks. Players, coaches and fans were screaming for a travel, an offensive foul or a no-call.

"Obviously I have a sour taste in my mouth from the last few minutes," said Wainwright. "But that's where it has to stay -- in my mouth."

It didn't stay there long, however. Moments later, he added, "It was just unfortunate that there were free throws at the end that decided the game."

Those free throws give UMass a desperately needed boost as the Minutemen break for a few days. They will regroup for a practice on Christmas night, and hope to have Edgar Padilla back (out again with the bad ankle) when they take on Connecticut in Hartford in the "U Game" on Friday night.

Massachusetts Minutemen 47
North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks 46

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Babul           19   0-0   2-4   0-1  0  1    2
Basit           18   0-3   1-2   1-5  0  0    1
Ketner          16   3-4   0-0   0-2  0  4    6
Clarke          40  3-11   0-0   0-3  7  2    6
Travieso        36  6-15   6-8   1-2  0  1   21
Smith           21   1-2   0-0   1-4  0  0    2
Kirkland         3   0-0   0-0   0-1  0  1    0
Weeks           21   3-6   0-0   1-2  0  3    6
Norville        26   1-2   1-4   2-7  0  4    3
TOTALS         200 17-43 10-18  6-27  7 16   47
Percentages: FG-.395, FT-.556. 3-Point Goals:
3-9, .333 (Clarke 0-1, Travieso 3-8). Team
rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 4 (Ketner 2, Norville
2). Turnovers: 9 (Clarke 4, Basit 2, Norville,
Smith, Travieso). Steals: 9 (Clarke 2, Ketner 2,
Norville 2, Kirkland, Travieso, Weeks).

                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Byington        30   2-9   0-0   0-1  2  0    6
Mayew           30   4-7   0-0   0-4  0  3    8
Kojenets        18   0-4   2-2   1-3  0  4    2
Donlon          27   3-7   3-4   0-2  2  2   10
Franklin        34   3-4   0-0   0-3  2  3    6
Simmons         25   3-7   2-2   2-7  1  2    8
Spencer         28  3-12   0-1   1-5  0  3    6
Avent            3   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Gibbs            3   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
Ebong            2   0-0   0-0   0-0  0  1    0
TOTALS         200 18-50   7-9  4-25  7 20   46
Percentages: FG-.360, FT-.778. 3-Point Goals:
3-12, .250 (Byington 2-7, Donlon 1-2, Simmons
0-3). Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 2
(Simmons, Spencer). Turnovers: 10 (Simmons 4,
Donlon 3, Spencer 2, Avent). Steals: 4 (Mayew 2,
Simmons, Spencer).

Massachusetts      23   24  -   47
Nc Wilmington      20   26  -   46
Technical fouls: None.  A: 2,543. Officials: Duke
Edsall, Larry Rose, Stanley Rote.

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