Edney steers Bruins past Oklahoma State It's a final: UCLA vs. Arkansas NCAA FINAL FOUR

April 02, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- Big men and little men usually are the players who most determine national championships, especially once a team reaches the Final Four. Recent history tells us it's the team with the good little guys that usually wins.

UCLA is one victory away from its first national championship in 20 years because the Bruins were able to stop Oklahoma State's Bryant Reeves down the stretch and the Cowboys weren't able to shut down Tyus Edney in yesterday's NCAA tournament semifinal at the Kingdome.

Edney, a 5-foot-10 senior point guard, took over here as he did last weekend at the West Regional, as he has done all season for the top-ranked Bruins. As a result, UCLA pulled away from Oklahoma State in the final two minutes to turn a close game into a 74-61 victory.

The victory was the 18th straight for the Bruins (30-2), who will play defending champion Arkansas in Monday night's title game. It will be UCLA's first appearance in an NCAA championship since 1980.

Edney finished with a team-high 21 points, eight of them coming in the last 3:36. After the Cowboys pulled to within one, 62-61, on a three-point shot by senior guard Randy Rutherford with 2:37 to go, Edney scored on a double-pump drive to start the Bruins on a 12-0 run to close out the game.

While Oklahoma State (27-10) couldn't get in front of the lightning-fast Edney, the Bruins did their best to slow down Reeves.

After scoring 18 points in the first half, Reeves finished with a game-high 25. But he scored only once in the last 9 1/2 minutes as UCLA's changing zone defenses prevented the Cowboys from getting the ball to their 7-foot, 292-pound center.

"I thought when we pulled up [to within one] and we were in position to maybe pull away, we never could stop him," Oklahoma coach Eddie Sutton said of Edney. "The thing that allowed us to win has been our defense, and we just didn't execute it very well. You have to give Edney a lot of credit. He was able to break our defense down and score there late in the game when we didn't foul people. And they were able to convert their free throws."

Said Edney, "The flow of the game just went to where I was going. I was able to get inside and get some shots."

That's like saying Michael Jackson has a few dance steps. Edney was acrobatic throughout, often driving in traffic and throwing in some nearly impossible shots over Reeves, among others.

In the run that started just before Sutton called timeout and continued when Rutherford fired up a 22-foot air ball, the Bruins made 10 straight free throws, including four by Edney.

UCLA made 24 of 28 overall, nine of 11 by Edney. He also had five assists and only two turnovers in a near-perfect 37-minute performance.

But he also had help. Though the Cowboys limited senior All-American Ed O'Bannon to 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting, they had trouble stopping his younger brother. Sophomore forward Charles O'Bannon finished with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting, to go along with six rebounds.

"I thought Charles played a great game," said Ed O'Bannon, who also had eight rebounds and four of UCLA's 10 steals. "He VTC stepped it up in all phases of his game -- rebounding, scoring and defense. It's what we expect of him."

Conversely, Reeves didn't get much support. Rutherford, whose three-point shooting was so instrumental in the Cowboys getting this far, missed nine of his 13 shots, including seven of 11 from three-point range, to finish with 15.

Oklahoma State, which had been averaging fewer than 10 turnovers in its first four NCAA tournament games, committed 19 yesterday.

Nearly from the start, the game was played at a pace suitable to the Cowboys. It certainly wasn't a half-court crawl, but it wasn't the full-court frenzy the Bruins prefer in order to blow out the competition. And it was also apparent that Oklahoma State was not going to be put away easily.

After UCLA went on a 9-0 run to build an early 20-11 lead -- the last points coming on a back-to-the-basket, over-the-head scoop Edney -- the Cowboys came back behind Reeves' inside play and their three-point shooting guards outside.

After cutting their deficit to 24-23, the Cowboys fell behind by 33-26 with 4:19 to go. But they finished the half with an 11-4 run and tied the game at 37 on a pair of free throws by Reeves with 54 seconds left.

The same thing happened early in the second half. After senior forward Terry Collins hit a three with a little less than a minute gone to put the Cowboys ahead for the first time since early in the game, the Bruins reeled off 11 straight points to seemingly take control, 48-40. Yet again, Oklahoma State came back. A three-point play with 13:18 to go by Reeves, who forced UCLA center George Zidek to the bench with his fourth personal, started a 9-0 run. Reeves' jump hook in the lane put the Cowboys ahead, 49-48, with 9:32 to go.

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