Pirates Steal Victory in Plain View of Duke
By Dave Sell
Though the Pirates' ascent to the NCAA championship may seem shocking to some, the Blue Devils had a pretty good idea of what Seton Hall could do. They just couldn't stop it.
"They really impressed me by how they complement each other," Ferry said of the Pirates. "It's a pretty good puzzle."
"These kids have worked very hard, and people are starting to realize that they are a good team," said Seton Hall Coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Good enough to be playing Monday night in the NCAA title game against Michigan.
Good enough to believe they still could win after falling behind by 18 points with just less than nine minutes left in the first half. The Pirates shook off their first Final Four jitters, played better defense and began to frustrate the Blue Devils, who were hampered by Christian Laettner's foul trouble and Robert Brickey's bruised thigh, suffered just a few minutes into the game.
Seton Hall all but erased the deficit before halftime and then took its first lead with about 14 minutes left in the game. After a 55-55 tie with 12:07 left, the Pirates outscored Duke, 26-13, over the next eight minutes to turn the game into a rout.
"I thought our team was ready to play and we played an outstanding 10 minutes," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Then fouls, injuries and all that got us out of our rhythm. But the main thing that got our out of our rhythm was Seton Hall."
The Pirates were led by Australian Olympian Andrew Gaze, who was one for eight for four points in the first half, but kept firing and finished with 20. Right behind him was forward Daryll Walker, who had 19 points and hounded Ferry long enough for the Duke all-American to tire and start to miss as the game wore on. Point guard Gerald Greene, whose penetration drew fouls from the Blue Devils, had 11 points in the first half when the Pirates were getting little elsewhere. He finished with 17 and eight assists.
Ferry had 21 points in the first half, but the numbers that translated into defeat were those compiled by Brickey and Laettner. Brickey went down when he was fouled less than three minutes in. He twice re-entered the game, but couldn't move laterally and finished with two points in only 11 minutes.
Laettner, the 6-foot-10 freshman center who had played so well in the tournament and was needed to bang the boards with the more muscular Pirates, got into foul trouble early. He hit four of five shots and had 13 points, but played just 21 minutes, fouling out with 9:26 left after having cut the Seton Hall lead to 65-61.
This is the third time in four years that Duke (28-8) has been to the Final Four, but also the third time that the Blue Devils have gone home without a title. And this was the second year in a row that Duke has lost in the national semifinals.
One only had to look at Ferry and Quin Snyder, the team's senior leaders, sitting on the bench in the waning minutes to know that this loss stung. They thought they had exorcised the ghosts of last spring, when they couldn't completely recover from a horrendous start and lost to an upstart Kansas squad. This time, they had a great start and couldn't hold on.
"I feel bad for the kids," Krzyzewski said. "I'll get to coach again."
"This year I really believed we would win it," said Ferry, who got a smile and a hug from his father, Bob, after leaving the postgame news conference. "I thought we would win it the other years, but I really thought we'd win it this year. Things don't always go the way you want. Looking back, I think how much I enjoyed my career. It was a privilege and honor to play for Coach K. I learned a lot and he became a good friend. Snyder . . . it's a sad thing."
Ferry and Snyder are the best of friends, and Ferry knew that his buddy from nearby Mercer Island was playing what will almost surely be the last game of his career.
"How much I wanted to win," Snyder said of his thoughts during the pregame introductions. "No extraordinary emotions with it being the Final Four and what could be my last game. I just felt focused and wanted to win."
Both teams seemed tense at the start. Duke had turnovers on its first three possessions, but it was the Blue Devils who came back to earth first.
With the Pirates taking nearly four minutes to make a field goal, the Blue Devils started to build a lead. A 15-2 run gave Duke it's biggest lead of the game, 26-8.
"They had us down and they were jumping on us and they weren't allowing us to do anything," Carlesimo said. "Before we worried about catching up or winning the game, we had to start playing well."
So that's what Seton Hall did. Laettner had scored, leaving Duke ahead by 33-19 with 5:25 left in the half. But the Pirates outscored Duke, 14-5, over the rest of the first half, and trailed by 38-33 at halftime.
The Pirates took much less time to get untracked after intermission. John Morton, who had played just nine minutes and was scoreless in the first half, scored within the first 10 seconds after play resumed. They were two of 13 points he would have in the half.
Duke went ahead, 45-35, on a basket by Laettner, but this would be the beginning of the end for favored the Blue Devils.
Morton scored twice to begin a 15-4 run that ended with Michael Cooper's basket. That put Seton Hall ahead for the first time, 50-49. After Snyder and Ferry pushed Duke ahead, 55-52, Gaze hit a three-pointer and Anthony Avent scored twice to give the Pirates a 59-55 lead with 11:22 left. This time, they would lead for good.
Just before picking up his fifth foul, Laettner had scored to slice the Seton Hall lead to 65-61. But from that point, the Pirates outscored Duke, 12-4, over a span of about 3 1/2 minutes, with Gaze hitting two three-pointers.
Center Ramon Ramos ended that run with a basket to put Seton Hall ahead by 77-65 with 5:46 left. The Blue Devils could not recover.
© Copyright 1989 The Washington Post Company