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. -- In what was the biggest near-upset, Lavor Postell hit a leaning 10-foot jumper and Erick Barkley made a game-saving steal to preserve a 61-56 victory for No. 2 seed St. John's over No. 15 seed Northern Arizona in a first-round West Regional game.

The Lumberjacks (20-10) held a 56-55 lead over the Red Storm (25-7) after a Cory Schwab three-pointer with 29 seconds left.

However, Postell responded by hitting a jumper and converting a three-point play to give St. John's a two-point lead with 10.9 second left.

With Northern Arizona driving, Barkley stole the ball from Lumberjack swingman Ross Land. On the in-bounds play, Barkley was fouled, went to the line and made one free throw before missing a second that was followed up by Bootsy Thornton (Dunbar), who led all scorers with 20 points.

Playing against a team that once sank 16 three-pointers in a game, protecting the perimeter was a major priority for the Red Storm.

But for all the talk about the three-point shooting from the Lumberjacks -- champions of the Big Sky Conference -- the biggest mountain St. John's found itself climbing was a 7-foot, immobile center named Dan McClintock.

Northern Arizona could only hit two of its 11 three-point attempts in the early going, one of them a Ross Land shot that tied the game at 18 with 9: 07 left in the first half. The problem was stopping McClintock, who only shot five for 12 from the field, but scored six of his team's first 10 points.

An Andrew Wolthers jumper gave the Lumberjacks a 20-18 lead, which it would extend to five points at 25-20 on a finger roll from McClintock with 3: 47 left in the first half.

St. John's held Northern Arizona scoreless from there until halftme. Meanwhile Thornton, who led the Red Storm with 10 points in the first half, hit a pair of field goals to bring his team to within one point, 25-24, at the 2: 21 mark.

Then reserve forward Anthony Glover returned the lead to St. John's with a pair of blind reverse layups, the last coming with less than a second left and putting his team ahead, 28-25 going into the break.

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."

The Bulldogs will play St. John's today in the second round.

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.

Cornell, who came into the game shooting 38 percent, hit a three-pointer with 2: 05 remaining to snap a 9-0 run by No. 11 seed Dayton (22-9) and tie it at 58.

Purdue last lost a first-round game in 1993 to Rhode Island.

Oklahoma 74, Winthrop 50: On the wings of three-pointers, the Sooners moved on to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Oklahoma was 10-for-21 from long range while Winthrop clanked shot after shot off the rim in a miserable shooting performance as the third-seeded Sooners rolled to victory.

Oklahoma's Eduardo Najera managed just 10 points, nearly nine below his average, in 28 foul-plagued minutes, but that hardly mattered as four other Sooners scored in double figures.

"We've got a complete team," reserve guard Tim Heskett said. "We've got an All-American in Eduardo and people sit on him, but we've got so many weapons besides him. People overlook us a lot."

First-year guards J. R. Raymond and Hollis Price carried the offense in the first half, as the Sooners (27-6) built a 39-23 lead at the break. Raymond scored 11 of his 14 points in the first 20 minutes and finished 4-for-7 from three-point range. Price added 10, also all in the first half.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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