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Richmond Upsets Gamecocks

Long after the spirited celebration at midcourt, the Richmond Spiders continued the revelry inside their dressing room.

"Uh-oh, they don't know!" the players sang in unison, chanting the phrase over and over as the chords poured through the walls and into the halls underneath the MCI Center.

Everyone especially South Carolina should have already known about 14th-seeded Richmond, which cemented its reputation as upset specialists by shocking the third-seeded Gamecocks 62-61 Thursday in an East Regional opener.

BJ McKie scored 24 points for South Carolina (23-8), now 0-4 in NCAA first-round games since 1973. The Gamecocks were ousted from the tournament in the opening round last year by unheralded Coppin State only the third time a No. 15 seed beat a No. 2.

The first was Richmond, seven years ago against Syracuse.

The Spiders hadn't been back to the NCAAs since then, and the players began their little chant months ago when they were just beginning their quest o get back into the tournament.

"Every time we come into an arena, we just take the attitude that the team we're playing doesn't know we're good," Richmond forward Nick Patrick said.

Jarod Stevenson scored 24 points, including two decisive free throws with 1:29 left, and Richmond (23-7) held the Gamecocks scoreless over the final 76 seconds to set up a second-round meeting with the 11th-seeded Washington Huskies.

"People thought we were just going to come in here and show up," Patrick said. "We're a good team. It's about time people started recognizing that."

As soon as a drive by McKie and subsequent tap-in attempt went awry at the buzzer, the Spiders gathered at midcourt to celebrate yet another upset.

"My heart was beating really fast," Richmond forward Nick Poole said. "I saw the first shot, and I was like, `Yes' and then he got it again, I was like, `Please someone, take off the whistle and blow the horn or something.' Then the horn went off and we all went crazy."

Said McKie: "I shot the ball with confidence; I just missed the shot. If I had to do it again, I think I'd make it."

It really shouldn't have come down to one shot, considering that South Carolina was an overwhelming favorite as Southeastern Conference runnerups.

South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler said he expected the press to write that the Gamecocks "choked."

"I don't know. Maybe we did," he concluded.

The Spiders' tournament surprises include a victory over a Charles Barkley-led Auburn team in 1984; wins over Indiana and Georgia Tech in 1988; and most notably, that stunning 73-69 victory over second-seeded Syracuse in 1991.

Now the Spiders can add another to their media guide. Richmond has won NCAA tournament games as No. 13 seed, a 14 and a 15.

"The seniors on the team are proud that we're going to be in the record book now, too," Stevenson said.

"The guys said it best the other day," Spiders first-year coach John Beilein said. "We are proud to be affiliated with Richmond because of their reputation. The guys here wanted to start their own tradition, put up their own banners."

Backed by a strong contingent of fans who made the trip north from Virginia, the Spiders built a 40-31 lead with 17 minutes left. But Richmond's long-range jumpers suddenly started hitting iron, and South Carolina took the lead with a 10-0 run while the Spiders went seven minutes without a basket.

A driving layup by Daryl Oliver ended the drought, and Richmond went up 58-56 on a jumper in the lane by Oliver with 3:58 to go. Two free throws by Poole upped the margin to four points before McKie hit a 3-pointer.

Two free throws by Stevenson with 1:29 left proved to be Richmond's last points, but it was enough for the Colonial Athletic Conference champions, who have won eight straight.

Richmond's Marseilles Brown had five 3-pointers in the first half to offset 16 points by McKie, who made six of his first seven shots. The Gamecocks led 25-20 before Brown hit a 3-pointer to spark a 14-4 run that put the Spiders up 34-29 at halftime.


©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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