St. John's survives late scare from Northern Arizona, 61-56

'99 Cinderella Gonzaga flashes more magic, upsets Louisville, 77-66

West at Tucson, Ariz.

Ncaa Tournament

March 17, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

TUCSON, Ariz. -- When you're looking for inspiration from Dick Vitale, you're hurting, but it almost worked for the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks last night at the McKale Center.

Earlier in the day, before his 15th-seeded team fell, 61-56, to St. John's, Lumberjacks coach Mike Adras heard from freshman forward Ryan McDade about Vitale's swift analysis of the team's chances.

"No way," Adras remembered hearing of Vitale's judgment -- no mention of whether whether there was a `baby' after that.

"[McDade] said, `We're going to show him,' " an emotional Adras said after his team lost in the first round for the second time in three years. "Our guys got to show him what `no way' means because he doesn't know what kind of heart our team has."

What happened over the last 29 seconds of the game -- a Lavor Postell jumper, an Erick Barkley steal -- allowed the ESPN commentator to have a crow-less breakfast this morning.

Northern Arizona had charged back from nine points down to take a 56-55 lead on a Cory Schwab three-pointer with 29 seconds left.

With the Northern Arizons campus in Flagstaff four hours away, the crowd of 13,624 was heavily pro-Lumberjack, with the vocal cords to prove it. But as the Red Storm has done all year -- through NCAA suspensions and highly publicized shouting matches -- it stood equal to the challenge.

After what he considered a poor performance, Postell fought through Northern Arizona's Ross Land and nailed a double-clutch jumper from 10 feet, converting a three-point play to give St. John's a 58-56 lead with 10.9 seconds left.

"I wanted the ball in my hands," Postell said. "I'd had a bad game, so I demanded the ball. I had to take control of the situation."

Then Barkley took the ball away from Land at the other end of the court with 2.6 seconds remaining, and passed it along to Bootsy Thornton (Dunbar), who led the Red Storm with 20 points.

The half-minute of heroism preserved St. John's for noted upset artist Gonzaga, its opponent tomorrow at 5: 30 p.m.

"It was a lot tougher than we would have liked, but the result was what we wanted," St. John's coach Mike Jarvis said. "Northern Arizona lived up to its reputation as a team that hit a lot of threes."

Actually, the Lumberjacks hit only 7 of 23 three-pointers for the game, and their top scorers ended up being Ross Land and Dan McClintock, inside players who contributed 14 and 18 points, respectively, and were a big part of why the Lumberjacks trailed by a slim, 28-25 margin at the half.

Postell and Barkley led St. John's on an 8-2 run that gave the team some cushion with a 45-37 lead. The Lumberjacks answered, however, with a pair of bombs from Ross Land and Adam Lopez that narrowed the gap to 47-44 with 7: 43 remaining.

Billy Hix eventually tied the game at 53 at the 1: 24 mark, before a jumper by St. John's Ron Jessie set the stage for what happened at the end.

"We're proud of the way we played," McClintock said. "We're definitely not going to look back with any regret."

Gonzaga 77, Louisville 66: The win wasn't exactly of the giant-killer variety, but the Bulldogs scored yet another NCAA tournament upset, beating the No. 7 seed Cardinals.

Senior guard Richie Frahm had 31 points and seven rebounds for Gonzaga (25-8), which made an unlikely run before falling to eventual national champion Connecticut in the West Regional final last season.

"I'm ecstatic," Frahm said. "We're in the second round; now we need to take care of business from there."

Down by one at the half despite shooting 59 percent from the field, Gonzaga stayed accurate over the final 20 minutes (and finished at 57.1), while allowing the Cardinals (19-12) to hit only 28 percent of their shots.

The lead switched between the two teams for the first five minutes of the second half, with Louisville going ahead 45-43 lead on a Nate Johnson layin with 15: 16 left in the game.

That was the last lead the Cardinals would have, as Frahm scored 14 of his game-high total.

"We went through this last year, and we knew a little bit of what to expect," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who took over when Dan Monson left for Minnesota. "This team believes in itself, and they are confident in their abilities."

Purdue 62, Dayton 61: Jaraan Cornell rediscovered his outside touch just in time for the Boilermakers.

Cornell broke out of a season-long slump by hitting three three-pointers in the final nine minutes to lead Purdue into the second round of the NCAA tournament for the seventh straight year.

"With about eight minutes left, I asked Jaraan, `Could you please make a shot tonight,' " Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "He laughed and maybe he was able to relax a little after that."

The sixth-seeded Boilermakers (22-9) advanced to play third-seeded Oklahoma, which beat No. 14 Winthrop, 74-50, in the first game of the day.

"There was no way I was going out to Dayton," Cornell said.

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