Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, December 21, 2001

Matt Jameson of Miami (Ohio) battles wth Boston College's Chester Mason for the ball. The RedHawks upset the 10th-ranked Eagles 73-67.

Miami (Ohio) upsets
BC in Classic

The RedHawks hand the 10th-ranked
Eagles their first loss of the season

By Cindy Luis

From mid-major to major upset.

Miami (Ohio) clipped Boston College's perfect season last night, stunning the No. 10 Eagles 73-67 in the first round of the 38th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Wally Szczerbiak would be proud. Another Miami team from the Mid-American Conference is making noise nationally.

"I'm sure he was watching this game somewhere," Miami guard Ben Helmers said of the former RedHawks star now with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Instead of "Wally's World" it was more like "Short Shorts." Alex Shorts scored 21 points, including going 9-for-10 from the free throw line to lift the RedHawks into today's 5 p.m. semifinal. Miami (3-5) will face Georgia (10-1), which defeated Arkansas State 80-68 in last night's second game in front of a studio audience of 1,725 (5,970 tickets)

In today's consolation semifinals, Holy Cross (4-5) faces Portland (4-5) at 11 a.m. Boston College (9-1) takes on Arkansas State (7-4) at 1:30 p.m.

In the second championship semifinal, host Hawaii (7-2) meets Iona (3-6) at 7:30 p.m.

That they will be playing in the championship round didn't surprise Miami coach Charlie Coles. His team was a hard-luck 2-5 coming into yesterday's contest, with an overtime loss to Evansville, a one-point defeat to Notre Dame and a four-point loss at Southern California in the last three outings.

"We've been in some close games that we could have won but didn't," said Coles, his team snapping a three-game skid. "We've been playing pretty well, even if it didn't show on our record.

"Boston College is a phenomenal team and they play hard. We got some big play from Alex (Shorts), and Ben (Helmers) gave us a big lift. I didn't expect to play him as much as I did, but he hit some big shots that kept us in the game."

Helmers, a senior averaging nine minutes, didn't expect to be playing for 31 minutes. Nor was he expecting to be guarding an All-American for most of the night, as he did when he drew Troy Bell, last year's co-Big East player of the year.

"It felt a little different, being out there like that," said Helmers, who finished with 12 points. "But it felt good.

"And Alex played great. He's probably the most talented guy on our team."

Shorts scored eight straight points during a four-minute span to put his team ahead 53-51 with 12:38 left. The Eagles survived a five-minute scoring drought and overcame a six-point deficit to tie it at 65 on Kenny Walls' 3-pointer with 3:32 to go.

Bell, a 91 percent free-throw shooter who made his first 11 from the line, hit 1 of 2 to give BC a 61-60 lead.

It lasted just 32 seconds. Shorts missed a dunk but came up with the rebound and a 3-point play to give the RedHawks a 68-66 lead.

Bell had a chance to tie but again sank just 1 of 2 from the line to pull to 68-67. Shorts hit both of his from the line and Chester Mason added three more free throws to close out the scoring.

"I don't know what the hell happened with the free throws," said Bell, who hit 30 in a row this season. "I don't miss those, especially at crunch time.

"I think we learned that we're not invincible. I think a lot of our guys thought that we couldn't be beaten before this game. We learned we have to play hard every night and get those loose balls."

Bell, who had scored a combined 100 points in his last three games, finished with 29. Walls added 19.

Also in double figures for the RedHawks were Mason with 18 and Helmers with 12.

Georgia 80, Arkansas State 68: It was closer than expected, but the Bulldogs held off a late run by the Indians to win their fifth in a row.

The Bulldogs trailed early as the Indians' 7-foot center Jason Jennings controlled the inside, with six points and two blocks in the first three minutes. Jennings finished with eight to tie a Classic record set by Arizona State's Alton Lister in 1978.

"Their big guy is a heck of a player, just a monster," said Georgia coach Jim Harrick. "And they outplayed us in every part of the game, just outhustled us. They made us do things that we haven't been doing all year.

"The key, key thing was their 25 turnovers. That and our free-throw shooting was pretty good (20 of 24)."

Down 19-12, Georgia responded with a 16-2 run to take the lead for good at 28-21. ASU closed to 33-28, but the Bulldogs used a 10-3 spurt to close out the half, taking a 43-31 lead into the locker room.

Nick Rivers, held to two first-half points, scored the Indians' first seven points of the second half and 13 of their first 17 to keep ASU within striking distance. The Indians got it down to four, 70-66, with 2:30 left.

Rashad Wright burst ASU's upset bubble with a 3-pointer that rattled around and finally dropped as the shot clock expired. Georgia pulled away with a 7-2 run in the final minute.

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