Duncan's 3-point play lifts Wake Louisville falls, 60-59, in Midwest semifinal; NCAA TOURNAMENT


MINNEAPOLIS -- Tim Duncan is a superstar, a first-team All-America selection and probably the first pick in this year's NBA draft.

Who would you give the ball to with the game on the line?

Duncan's controversial turnaround basket and free throw with 1: 16 left last night gave Wake Forest a 60-59 victory against Louisville in an NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal at the Metrodome.

No. 2 seed Wake (26-5) will face top seed Kentucky in tomorrow's regional final for a Final Four spot.

Duncan had a game-high 27 points, but none more important than his last three.

With Wake trailing by two points, Duncan received a pass from teammate Rusty LaRue with his back to the basket. Duncan backed in on Louisville's Damion Dantz- ler, spun to his right and banked in a short shot, while drawing a foul on Dantzler.

Louisville coach Denny Crum thought Duncan got fouled before the shot.

"Other than that one NBA continuation play, I thought the game was well-officiated," Crum said.

Duncan calmly made the go-ahead free throw and then sweated out the last minute.

"I was just trying to let the game come to me and be able to do the things without getting as tired as I did last week," said Duncan, who had the flu during Wake's first two tournament wins. "I didn't come out thinking I'm going to have a big game, I just came out here thinking I was back up to where I was before I got sick."

Louisville (22-12) had plenty of chances but shot only 33 percent, missed its last six shots and did not score in the final 4: 52.

After Duncan's free throw, Louisville's DeJuan Wheat missed a shot with 42 seconds left.

The Cardinals then got a big break when Wake's Jerry Braswell, playing for the injured Tony Rutland, was called for an offensive foul with 30 seconds left. It gave Louisville possession and a chance for the game-winning shot.

With the clock winding down, Wheat drove from the top of the key to his right and missed a bank shot from about 10 feet with about five seconds left. Time expired before Louisville could foul.

"I switched, and so I was just on him [Wheat] at the end,' LaRue said of the final play. "They did a little clear-out play where he gets the right side. I just wanted to make him go to his right and stay on his left hand so he couldn't pull up for a three."

The Cardinals played curiously down the stretch. Center Samaki Walker, who helped rally his team in the second half and forced a fourth foul on Duncan with 7: 59 left, hardly touched the ball in the final minutes, and the Cardinals didn't score in the last 4: 52.

"I was kind of surprised they weren't isolating him and throwing it in there every time," Duncan said.

Wake, which held a three-point halftime lead, threatened to pull away in the second, as LaRue and Ricky Peral made consecutive three-pointers to give the Demon Deacons a 38-29 lead with 16: 46 left.

But then Walker went to work against Duncan.

On successive possessions, Walker drew fouls on Duncan while scoring inside, making the free throws each time to cut the lead to 41-38.

The game was tied at 41 with 13: 42 left and neither team could pull away after that. Wake took a 54-53 lead with 7: 26 on Peral's three-pointer, but Louisville answered with a six-point run to go up 59-54.

It looked bleak for Wake with 4: 52 left, when Peral fouled out, but LaRue made a clutch three-pointer with 4: 28 remaining to cut the lead to 59-57 to set up Duncan's game-winner.

Walker led Louisville with 16 points, with Tick Rogers had 13. Wheat, who scored 52 points in two previous tournament games, made only three of 15 shots and finished with seven points.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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