Randolph Childress was the hottest player in the nation entering the East Regional at the Baltimore Arena.
He departed one of the weakest.
Childress, the Wake Forest guard who set a scoring record in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last weekend, was bent over on the floor wheezing and gasping for breath at one point in the second half against Saint Louis yesterday. He got to Baltimore with a cold, and will be glad to get in his own bed and rest up for Oklahoma State.
"I don't know how my cold affected the team, but it did have a big effect on me," Childress said. "I didn't think I would play so much, but I had to play. I'm just glad that we won and now I can get some rest and some fluids in me."
A good meal also would help.
"I haven't eaten a whole lot," Childress said. "We went to Ruth's Chris Steak House last night, and instead of eating my meal, I ate ice cream. I've always been the type, I'll eat half of my steak to leave room for dessert."
Childress nonetheless had 21 points, eight at the free-throw line, where Wake Forest outscored perimeter-bound Saint Louis, 16-2.
"I saw him [Childress] at the end down on his knees, and I knew something was missing," said Scott Highmark, the Saint Louis swingman. "He's just so cool out there, he hits his shots. I guess that's why he's an All-American."
Said Wake Forest coach Dave Odom: "I wasn't surprised by him [Childress] holding on. It wasn't like he was playing on planet Mars like he was last weekend. When one player on our team has something less than a sterling performance, someone else has stood up."
That would be senior forward Travis Banks. With Saint Louis' three-point shooters extending the Demon Deacons, Banks cleaned up on the defensive boards, where he had 11 of his 13 rebounds.
Banks, Childress and sophomore center Tim Duncan all went the entire 40 minutes.
"We're not a fatigued team, but that was a difficult turnaround for us," said Odom. "We went from an exhilarating adrenalin flow of winning the ACC to the NCAAs, and we need a few days off."
Last shot together
Highmark finished his Saint Louis career a little stronger than Erwin Claggett and H Waldman.
Wake Forest hit its first four shots and scored on its first seven possessions, before Highmark got the Billikens back in it. He had 22 points, and finished his career with 1,702 points, fifth best in school history.
Claggett ended No. 2 with 1,910, but the 12 he got were not pretty. He made only four of his 18 shots. Waldman, who joined Saint Louis as a transfer from Nevada-Las Vegas last season, was even colder, as he missed all eight of his three-pointers. He came in making 44.8 percent.
Saint Louis actually improved on its shooting from the first round. It went from 34.4 percent in its overtime win over Minnesota to 34.8 percent yesterday.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening attended the game with his son, Raymond, and two of Raymond's friends. They sat with Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the president of UMBC, which was the official host at the Arena. . . . Wake Forest and Saint Louis fans finally were able to buy T-shirts with correct lettering. A company in Indiana shipped faulty T-shirts to the Arena for Thursday's first-round games.