THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Saturday, March 18, 1995 TAG: 9503180345 SECTION: SPORTS PAGE: C1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY TOM ROBINSON, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: TALLAHASSEE, FLA. LENGTH: Medium: 98 lines
Jerry Stackhouse played a routinely brilliant brand of basketball Friday afternoon. And without question, North Carolina needed every bead of sweat the sophomore All-American left on the floor of the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament's Southeast Regional.
Yet it is testament to Stackhouse's skills that, after he recorded 25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots, two steals and literally willed the second-seeded Tar Heels past the 15th-seeded Murray State Racers, he took second-team star-of-the-game honors.
Yep, the day belonged to Serge Zwikker.
This is not a misprint.
North Carolina's lumbering, blond, Dutch backup center played the game of his college career as the Tar Heels escaped, 80-70, to play Iowa State on Sunday. With Rasheed Wallace limited to 16 ineffective minutes, only three in the second half, because of a sprained left ankle, Zwikker scored a career-high 19 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes.
For his effort, Zwikker, a 7-foot-2 sophomore who averages 2.3 points and 3.1 rebounds, got the thrill of national celebrity and the chore of reciting his life story to reporters for an hour after the heavy breathing on the court had ceased.
Oh, and it was heavy. Murray State, the cat-quick Ohio Valley Conference champion, led by six points with 17 minutes left. And even after the Tar Heels had roared back behind Stackhouse and gone up by nine, the Racers were still within five with 59 seconds to go.
But Zwikker hit 3 of 4 free throws in the next 18 seconds - he finished 7 for 8 from the line, 6 for 8 from the field on layups and baby jumpers - to finally put the Racers (21-9) on empty.
``For me to have a career day, I definitely have to thank my teammates, because they gave me the ball down low,'' said Zwikker, whose previous offensive high was 13 this season against Virginia Military Institute. He had 11 in Friday's second half.
``I did what I could do. With Rasheed being out today, I got a little more time and I showed off a little more of my game. I just helped the team any way I could.''
Wallace started but was clearly stepping lightly. The sophomore second-team All-American had six points and five rebounds when North Carolina coach Dean Smith, at the 17:07 mark of the second half, pulled Wallace for good.
``That's when I told the team we don't have Rasheed the rest of the way, let's really go to work,'' Smith said. ``Don't wait for him to come in.''
Stackhouse wasn't waiting for anybody, nor did he allow the Racers to become just the third No. 15 seed in tournament history to beat a No. 2. On a day that forward Dante Calabria was in a funk - five points, four turnovers - and senior guard Donald Williams was practically invisible in the second half - three points on 1 of 2 shots, a 3-pointer - Stackhouse's star shined as brightly as ever.
Stackhouse scored six consecutive points in one 3 1/2-minute stretch to give North Carolina (25-5) a 60-58 lead. Over seven of the game's next 10 possessions, Stackhouse grabbed a defensive rebound, dished an assist to Zwikker, blocked a shot, got another defensive rebound, and scored seven points in a row.
At the end of all that, the Tar Heels were up, 69-60, with 4:02 left.
``A little bit of everything,'' Smith said. ``He wasn't going to let us lose, and he certainly didn't let us lose.''
Stackhouse agreed that he intended to take control.
``Hey, it's time,'' he said. ``If we don't do it now, you're going home. And that's the last thing I want, to be at home sitting watching other teams play. Every time you step on the court now there's a possibility of that happening if you don't come to play.''
The Racers showed up ready. They were down, 38-31, with 3:16 left in the first half when their swarming full-court defense sparked an 11-2 run that produced a 42-41 halftime lead. The half ended on a follow shot by William Moore that apparently came after the horn but was credited anyway to give the Racers a 44-41 advantage.
However, the call was changed before the second half began and the two points taken away. Murray State could have used them, coach Scott Edgar said, not that it tilted the balance. By that time, the Racers had confidence, and they weren't going away easily.
``We expected to have the lead,'' said guard Marcus Brown, who led Murray State with 26 points. ``We expected to play with them. We weren't coming down here just to roll over and die.''
The Racers lost for the first time in nine games, and Edgar said, ``I knew at the end of the year that we could play with anybody in the country. Anybody. Anywhere.
``So Carolina advances, they get all the credit. We got it down to a five-minute game, where we wanted, and they made more plays than we did. Sooner or later, superior athletic ability is going to take over. I think that's what took over today.''
It's true that ``Serge Zwikker'' and ``superior athlete'' have not been used together in too many sentences. Friday, it applied, to North Carolina's delight. And relief. ILLUSTRATION: [Color Photo]