Memphis bounces upstart Bradley

Defense lifts top-seeded Tigers in 2nd half

Memphis 80 Bradley 64

Ncaa Tournament

March 24, 2006|By CHRIS DUFRESNE | CHRIS DUFRESNE,LOS ANGELES TIMES

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It was a sweet run for Bradley, but Memphis is moving on.

Looking every much like the top-seeded team in the Oakland Regional, Memphis turned a five-point halftime lead into an 80-64 rout over No. 13 Bradley in a Sweet 16 game at Oakland Arena last night.

The victory moved Memphis to tomorrow's regional final against UCLA.

After a sluggish first half, Memphis turned up the intensity on defense and the game quickly turned the Tigers' way.

"We really guarded, we rebounded in the second half and my stars were stars, all three of them," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "We're pretty good when that happens."

Those three stars?

Senior forward Rodney Carney led Memphis with 23 points, sophomore guard Darius Washington had 18 and freshman forward Shawne Williams added 12.

Memphis (33-3) out-rebounded Bradley, 41-35.

Bradley held tough through 20 minutes and trailed only 35-30 at halftime.

Memphis, though, made sure Bradley wasn't going to post its third consecutive upset.

Joey Dorsey (Douglass) made a layup to make it 37-30, Washington sank a jumper to up the lead to 39-31 and by the time Carney made a three-point basket with 18:22 left, the lead was 11 and Bradley needed a timeout.

Bradley kept the game from getting out of hand, but could never get closer than seven points.

The key?

"We run," Washington said. "They wanted to run with us and we got the victory."

Carney, the team's emotional senior leader, seemed to make every key shot and tip-in.

"That's my purpose," he said. "I want to get those run-through dunks. I want to dunk on seven-foot guys."

Last night's win marks the first time Memphis has reached the round of eight since 1992.

Bradley?

Well, it could have used Bill Walton, who watched the second half in the stands as he awaited UCLA's game.

Walton, once the Bruins' center, dominated Memphis State in the 1973 title game - making 21 of 22 shots.

The Braves keep battling. The team from Peoria, Ill., became only the fourth 13th-seeded team to qualify for the Sweet 16 after defeating Kansas and Pittsburgh last week, but was clearly no match for Memphis.

The Tigers swarmed Bradley with waves of tall and talented players.

"Yeah, they're athletic," Bradley forward Marcellus Sommerville, who led his team with 18 points, said of Memphis.

Bradley (22-11) did itself proud after finishing fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference.

It was the first time Bradley had reached the round of 16 in 51 years and the school's first NCAA tournament appearance in a decade.

"Now we've got a taste of what it is," Bradley coach Jim Les said he told his young players. "We don't want to make this an every 50-year [occurrence]. We don't want to make this an every 10 year. We want this to be an every-year occurrence."

Chris Dufresne writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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