Without foul-troubled Ralph Sampson much of the game, Virginia still ran past a running team, Boston College, in the semifinals of the NCAA West Regional tonight. By winning, 95-92, the Cavaliers assured an all-Atlantic Coast Conference final here Saturday.
Answering critics who claim they are ordinary without the 7-foot-4 Sampson, the Cavaliers broke a tight game open when he was forced to the bench very early in the second half with his fourth foul. They were down a point when he left; they were up six when he returned, nearly 12 minutes later. In between, they led by as many as 11.
Behind by 14 points with 2:52 left on a layup by Othell Wilson layup off Sampson's steal, BC closed within three on two jumpers by Michael Adams and two foul shot with 33 seconds left. But Rick Carlisle's six foul shots clinched Virginia's 29th victory.
Carlisle scored 22 points Sampson 19 and Wilson 18 for Virginia. John Garris led the Eagles with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
or the first time in six postseason tests, North Carolina State had an easy game tonight. So unerring from so far, it scored a 75-56 victory over Utah at Weber State College in the semifinal round of the NCAA West Regional tournament.
The team that had to come from behind several times to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and advance this far in the NCAAs doubled a four-point halftime lead in the first eight minutes, then coasted over the 18-13 Utes. The losers scored just five points during one six-minute stretch midway through the second half.
State meets the winner of tonight's Virginia-Boston College game for the regional title here Saturday.
"We kinda thought they were good, but never that good," Ute coach Jerry Pimm said. "The shots they were making they were earning. What they wanted to get they got, hard as it was for me to sit over there and believe. Those were three-point shots in the pros."
With inside and outside games going well, State controlled the first half. Had a three-point line been used, it would have been ahead by more than 30-26. But for two turnovers that became layups by Pace Mannion, the lead would have been larger anyway.
Wolfpack long-range shots were most impressive. Just when the Utah faithful would be impressed with a 21-foot shot by Dereck Whittenburg, Terry Gannon would follow with something longer. In a three-goal sequence, Gannon hit 22-footers from the right and center and Whittenburg from the left.
"They'd let me alone at first," said Whittenburg, who scored 27 points in all. "When they moved up, I could drive more. Yeah, this is the best I've shot since I came back from that foot injury. Before that, I was goin' crazy."
Eventually, Utah switched the taller Mannion on Whittenburg, and he played fine defense. Always, he had a hand up as Whittenburg shot; the ball dropped cleanly anyway.
The inside scoring came from Lorenzo Charles, which was timely because Thurl Bailey failed to get a point the first half. Before Utah decided he had range up to 12 feet after all and stuck a hand in his face when he turned and faced the basket with the ball, Charles had five baskets.
He also combined with Sidney Lowe for the headiest play of the first 20 minutes. State went into its delay about 90 seconds before halftime, weaving back and forth beyond the top of the key. With 10 seconds left, Lowe penetrated the free-throw lane, drew a gang of Utes toward him and fed Charles for a mighty slammer.
Utah led just once, 16-15, when the 6-7 Mannion posted a relatively tiny State guard and got a layup. Before, Whittenburg and Charles and some nice defense had the Wolfpack ahead, but by no more than four points.
Peter Williams was the only effective Ute from the outside, especially from the right base line. He was so mechanical in warmups that a State assistant shook his head and walked away. He had three field goals from his favorite spot the first half.
One of the pivotal plays came with just over five minutes left before halftime. Whittenburg shot an airball, but Lowe stole the ball at the other end and fed Whittenburg for what became a three-point layup. After another Utah turnover, Whittenburg made a 22-footer for a 26-20 lead.
Utah scored the first six points of the second half, but State quickly gained an eight-point lead. Angelo Robinson made an eight-footer from the left and a 20-footer from the right. Then Mannion followed with what had been a Wolfpack staple--a long-range jumper.
But Whittenburg scored eight points and Bailey came alive on offense for two baskets. His block of Robinson led to Whittenburg's drive and a 48-40 State advantage with 12:23 left.
A three-point play by Williams was the only Utah scoring in the next three-plus minutes. Meanwhile, Gannon made two more extremely long jumpers and Bailey added a short jump-hook. The Wolfpack got the lead to 58-45 and then got cautious. Pass after pass after pass ended with a turnover by Whittenburg and, with 5:29 left, Mannion hit from the left. Then Whittenburg was called for an intentional foul off the ball and Mannion sank one of two foul shots.
A Wolfpack parade to the free-throw line soon followed; Bailey and Gannon provided a 12-point cushion for the final 3 1/2 minutes.
"We've got a lot of senior leadership," Lowe said. "We really play better away from home."