Friday, March 15, 2002

Midwest Region roundup

Prosser's Deacons hold off Pepperdine

The Associated Press

Pepperdine's Cedric Suitt goes high to block a shot by Wake Forest's Ervin Murray.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Wake Forest can finally boast about NCAA tournament success in the post-Tim Duncan era.

        The seventh-seeded Demon Deacons defeated 10th-seeded Pepperdine 83-74 Thursday in the Midwest Regional for their first tournament victory since Duncan starred for the team in 1997.

        “We had a great start, a less-than-scintillating middle and a very gratifying finish,” first-year coach Skip Prosser said.

        Senior Craig Dawson led the Deacons with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, in his first and last NCAA tournament.

        Wake next plays No. 2-seeded Oregon, which beat Montana 81-62.

        Dawson has waited four years to play in the tournament. Last season, he sat out with a shoulder injury from the week before in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, and watched from the bench as the Deacons were upset by Butler in the first round of the NCAAs.

        “Not being able to play last year was very tough,” he said. “When I got out there, all the emotions I expected to have were there.”

        As a freshman and sophomore, Dawson played in the NIT, including Wake Forest's 2000 tournament title.

        “It's the best feeling I've had since I've been here,” he said, referring to Thursday's victory. “Nothing can compare to it, even a NIT championship.”

        Dawson hit two big 3-pointers early in the second half Thursday to put the Deacons (21-12) back in front when Pepperdine (22-9) twice held one-point leads. He punctuated the scoring on a dunk with 14.9 seconds remaining.

        The Waves, who twice trailed by 13 points early in the game, kept it close most of the second half, but never took more than a two-point lead.

        Devin Montgomery led the Waves with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. Boomer Brazzle added 13 points.

        “We just couldn't get over the hump,” forward Jimmy Miggins said. “We got good looks, but we just couldn't hit them.”

        Pepperdine tied the game for the final time at 56 with 11:06 remaining on Craig Lewis' first basket of the game.

        Wake Forest then outscored the Waves 27-18 to end the game and give Prosser a victory at Arco Arena, where he made his college head coaching debut with Loyola of Maryland in 1993.

        “We had a chance to win in the last five minutes as did they,” said first-year Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal. “Wake made a couple of plays and baskets, and we weren't able to match.”

        Senior Darius Songaila added 18 points for the Deacons. Wake Forest lost in the second round of the 1997 tournament, when Duncan was a senior, and then didn't make the tournament again until last year.

        “This is what we worked so hard for four years,” said senior Broderick Hicks, who added 15 points and seven assists. “All I could think of was the joy last Sunday when they put our name on the board.”

        The Waves had won 17 of 19 coming in, but they faced a huge jinx, having never beaten an ACC team in 11 tries. The defeat made them 0-12, including four first-round tournament losses.

        The Deacons twice led by 13 points in the game's opening six minutes. The Waves got back in it on 3-pointers, including three by Montgomery.

        Brazzle launched a 12-6 run over the final 4:12 that had the Waves trailing 38-35 at halftime. Montgomery scored five in a row and Mike Westphal, the seldom-used son of the coach, closed the half with a fastbreak layup.

        Pepperdine was in the tournament for the first time since 2000, when the Waves upset Indiana 77-57 in Bob Knight's last NCAA tourney game as the Hoosiers' coach.

        Kansas 70, Holy Cross 59

        ST. LOUIS — Kansas barely avoided becoming the first No.1 seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament to make a first-round exit, holding off Holy Cross 70-59 Thursday night in the Midwest Regional.

        “Everything looked bad,” coach Roy Williams said. “But the kids didn't panic. Whether it's ugly or not, we're still playing.”

        Besides beating Holy Cross, the Jayhawks (30-3) also overcame their own history of failures — five early losses as a No.1 seed since 1986.

        They rallied from a five-point second-half deficit without All-Big 12 guard Kirk Hinrich, who sprained his left ankle in the final minute of the first half. Hinrich is questionable for the Jayhawks' second-round game Saturday.

        “They did take X-rays, but nothing is broken and we don't have any idea about his availability 48 hours from now,” Williams said.

        Hinrich, who needed to be helped off the floor, was not on the bench at the start of the second half. He later returned wearing an air cast and a heavy wrap around his ankle, his leg elevated on a chair.

        But Holy Cross almost sent the Jayhawks limping back to Lawrence, Kan.

        “It feels like someone ripped out our hearts,” guard Ryan Serravalle said. “We said in one of the huddles in the second half we thought we'd make history together. We're not satisfied with moral victories.”

        All-American Drew Gooden had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Kansas, which went unbeaten in the Big 12 and had a 16-game winning streak snapped in the Big 12 Conference tournament final against No.3 Oklahoma. The Jayhawks haven't lost consecutive games since falling to Baylor and Iowa State Feb. 12-17, 2001.

        The victory over Holy Cross (18-15), which made it into the tournament by winning the Patriot League Tournament, made it 19 straight first-round victories in the NCAA Tournament for the Jayhawks. But Kansas fell far short of its nation-best 92-point scoring average, with its second-lowest scoring total of the season.

        Holy Cross befuddled Kansas with a matchup zone all night and stayed in it until the end despite shooting just 33.3 percent. The Crusaders compensated by committing only nine turnovers and by patiently working the ball inside.

        Oregon 81, Montana 62

        SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Now that Oregon has beaten a pesky opponent and a big batch of butterflies for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1960, the ascendant Ducks think they can go anywhere.

        Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson scored 18 points apiece as second-seeded Oregon overcame a nervous start to beat Montana 81-62 on Thursday in the Midwest Regional.

        Oregon, which didn't make the postseason last year, is shedding the weight of years of mediocrity with each victory in its resurgent season. Robert Johnson added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks (24-8), who advanced to face seventh-seeded Wake Forest on Saturday.

        “We had to calm these guys down a few times over the last couple of days,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. “This team was really excited ... but hopefully this was one to get the butterflies out, and we can come back strong.”

        Stanford 84, W. Kentucky 68

        ST.LOUIS — Stanford had clear sailing, once it made it to the opening tipoff.

        Stanford, the No.8 seed in the Midwest Regional, shrugged off a pregame technical for turning in the lineup card late, getting 19 points and 12 rebounds from Curtis Borchardt in a victory over No. 9 Western Kentucky.

        Casey Jacobsen added 17 points, six rebounds and four assists despite 4-for-12 shooting.

        Stanford (21-9) will play top-seeded Kansas in the second round Saturday.

        Stanford is in the tournament for the eighth straight year and has won in the opening round each time.

        This time was more of a challenge because Stanford, which tied for second in the Pac-10, usually gets one of the top seeds. Sranford was a No.1 the previous two seasons, a No.2 in 1999 and No. 3 in 1998, but this season there's only one senior in the starting lineup.

        Western Kentucky (28-4) got the jump when Patrick Sparks, who had 20 points and nine assists, made one of two free throws on the technical. The last lead was 3-2 as the Hilltoppers' 18-game winning streak came to an end.


Sports Stories
Buckeyes hold off tough Wildcats
Wildcats buck upset trend
NCAA Notebook
East Region roundup
- Midwest Region roundup
South Region roundup
West Region roundup
NIT roundup
NIT scores
Maple Leafs topple Bruins
Sprewell pops Kings for 43 points in win
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