End-to-end Edney run lifts UCLA NCAA TOURNAMENT WEST REGIONAL

March 20, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

BOISE, Idaho -- With his team trailing Missouri by one with 4.8 seconds remaining, UCLA coach Jim Harrick wanted the ball in the hands of point guard Tyus Edney just like he wanted two years ago in a second-round game against Michigan.

In that game, Edney made a bad decision and the Bruins lost; this time his actions resulted in a trip to the Sweet 16.

The 5-foot-10 Edney drove the length of the floor, eluded a defender with a behind-the-back dribble at the three-point line and then scored on a driving layup over the outstretched hands of 6-9 Derek Grimm just before the buzzer as the top-seeded Bruins beat Missouri, 75-74.

UCLA appeared to be headed for yet another early-round tournament defeat when it trailed by nine early in the second half. Instead Edney's heroics set off a wild celebration as the Bruins advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in four years.

"It's hard to describe the feeling, it's such a great feeling," Edney said. "There's no bigger shot that I can think of. This is the biggest shot of my life."

And it had to be the most disappointing moment in the lives of the Missouri players, who appeared to be in good shape to advance as the Tigers worked a set play to perfection, Julian Winfield's layup giving the Tigers a 74-73 lead with 4.8 seconds left.

"We got exactly what we wanted," a disappointed Missouri coach Norm Stewart said. "Obviously we didn't want them to score. We tried to make them hold the ball up."

But Edney hit the shot and the Tigers lost, despite hitting 63.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Guard Paul O'Liney led the way, hitting five of six three-pointers, and scored 23 points to lead the eighth-seeded Tigers.

"They were cool, relaxed and had nothing to lose," Harrick said. "You have to give them credit for that."

Give credit to Harrick for making a defensive move that cooled off O'Liney, switching sophomore guard Cameron Dollar on him. O'Liney would score just seven points in the second half.

"We did a better job on him defensively," Harrick said. "We just didn't do a lot better job on the other guys."

Like Missouri guard Jason Sutherland, who scored 15 points, hitting four of eight three-pointers. And forward Grimm, who hit three of five three-pointers -- including a trey from the right corner with 3:49 left that gave the Tigers a 72-69 lead.

And give Edney credit for his game-saving drive. In a 1993 second-round game against Michigan, Edney made a steal at halfcourt in a tie game with seconds left in regulation and tried to dish to Ed O'Bannon. Michigan's Jimmy King stepped in and stole the ball, and the Bruins ended up losing by two in overtime.

"I'm sure he still thinks about that," said O'Bannon, whose 24 points led the Bruins. "I do. Great players overcome situations like that."

Edney reflected on that moment.

"At the time, it was real hard," said Edney, who had 15 points and seven assists. "It happened in the flow of the game. That's something you put into the back of your mind."

This time O'Bannon found himself once again in a position of getting a pass from Edney on the final play.

"I was on the wing," O'Bannon said. "I saw Tyus was going to the basket and I just looked to make myself available if he needed me."

UCLA had had it easy in its first-round romp of Florida International, which may not have prepared the Bruins for the first half in which O'Liney hit all four of his three-pointers and scored 16 of his points.

The Bruins trailed 42-34 at the half, and by nine after O'Liney's three-pointer with 16:05 left. But a 15-0 run capped by a three-pointer by Edney with 10:44 left gave UCLA a 58-52 lead.

Missouri fought back to a three-point lead, and had the 74-73 lead after Winfield's layup only to suffer heartache just seconds later.

"We practice that drill in practice -- length of the floor in three seconds to get a shot off," Edney said. "When we were in the huddle, I heard Ed say 'We're going to win.' "

Added Harrick, coaching in the 20th anniversary year of UCLA's last national championship: "They spread the floor on us, and when you spread the floor on Tyus Edney, he might make you pay sometimes."

That he did, leaving the floor covered with stunned Missouri players, as the UCLA celebration went on around them.

"It's prime-time guys that have got to have the big games," Harrick said. "If Tyus Edney and Ed O'Bannon don't have big games, we don't have a chance."

The Bruins move on to Oakland to face Mississippi State on Thursday, with the Connecticut-Maryland winner facing the victor.

"I'm just glad to be going. I haven't thought about [Mississippi State] yet," Harrick said. "I will in a minute, just give me a chance to enjoy this. We were very, very fortunate today."

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