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NCAA COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Cowboys Ride Off Waves

East Regional: Pepperdine can't find its shooting touch and is eliminated by Oklahoma State, 75-67.

March 20, 2000|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Like a Malibu sunset, Pepperdine's NCAA tournament brilliance was breathtaking and brief.

The fiery momentum gained from a 20-point victory over Indiana grew more dim with every missed three-point shot against Oklahoma State, resulting in a 75-67 loss Sunday in the second round of the East Regional.

The Waves let fly a school-record 32 three-point attempts and made only seven. No amount of pressure defense could overcome shooting that frigid.

"We felt we could press them and wear them out, but we couldn't make a shot," Coach Jan van Breda Kolff said.

Oklahoma State matched Pepperdine errant shot for errant shot until embarking on an 18-4 run that turned a two-point Wave lead into a 60-48 deficit with 5:34 to play.

Pepperdine cut the lead to 69-64 with 1:12 left on consecutive three-pointers by Brandon Armstrong and Tezale Archie, but the Cowboys (26-6) put it away by making six free throws in the final minute to advance to the regional semifinals at Syracuse, N.Y.

"I wanted so much to get to the Sweet 16 with this team because the seniors are such a special group," said Coach Eddie Sutton, whose Cowboys lost in the second round each of the last two seasons.

Van Breda Kolff feels the same way about the team he inherited after filling the vacancy left by Lorenzo Romar last spring. As Armstrong, Archie, Tommie Prince and Nick Sheppard were walking from the podium after postgame interviews, Van Breda Kolff applauded them.

"This is the team I've most enjoyed in all my years of coaching and playing," he said. "Usually when you lose there are negative feelings, but we cried and hugged in the locker room because these players gave everything they had from the preseason to the regular season to the postseason."

The Waves (25-9) tied a school record for victories, won their first West Coast Conference championship in eight years and first NCAA tournament game since 1982.

They did it by embracing Van Breda Kolff's up-tempo style. And at the end they were embraced by a large portion of the crowd of 19,351 at HSBC Arena. Fans seated near the tunnel to the locker room stood and cheered the crestfallen Waves as they exited the court.

The fans were won over by the Waves' free-wheeling, fast-breaking style and their retro Afros and matching headbands. But few recognized the irony that such an expressive team is from a conservative university with Bible-belt, Church of Christ roots.

Pepperdine students weren't allowed to dance until about 10 years ago, yet for a few days the Waves made the Big Dance their own Sugar Shack, knocking off tradition-bound Indiana and regaling national media with stories about Malibu celebrity sightings.

"This was so much fun I'll never forget it the rest of my life," said Prince, one of three fifth-year senior starters.

Prince helped contain Oklahoma State's Desmond Mason, who had 13 points after scoring 30 in a first-round victory over Hofstra. But three other Cowboy players scored in double figures and point guard Doug Gottlieb had nine assists.

Center Fredrik Jonzen did the most damage, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Joe Adkins had 18 points and made four three-pointers, including one from the corner that extended the lead to 65-50 with 3:25 to play.

The other two Pepperdine senior starters went out with strong performances. Archie had a career-high 14 assists to give him 25 in the tournament and center Nick Sheppard scored 13 points on five-for-six shooting, giving him 30 points in the two games.

Van Breda Kolff already is excited about next season's team. Besides Armstrong and forward Kelvin Gibbs--both All-West Coast Conference selections--top reserves Craig Lewis, David Lalazarian and Cedric Suitt will return.

Robert Turner of Anaheim Western High and Will Kimble of San Bernardino Pacific High have signed. Derrick Anderson, a transfer from Nevada Reno who played at Crenshaw High, will be eligible next season.

"The exposure we got this year could put us in the top-25 range and make us a powerhouse on the West Coast," Van Breda Kolff said. "People who never heard of Pepperdine except when Kenneth Starr was on TV know we can play basketball.

"Most of our recruits over the years have been from California. Maybe we'll begin to get kids from the Midwest and the East Coast."

It was Lewis, Lalazarian and Suitt who helped keep the Waves close in the first half. In a combined 29 minutes, they had 15 points. Oklahoma State's reserves scored only two in the half.

Cold shooting can be contagious, however. In the second half, Lalazarian had only two points and Lewis scored none.

Pepperdine jumped to a 5-1 lead on a layup by Armstrong, who scored 19 points to give him 41 in the tournament. Sutton promptly called time out.

"It would have been easy to jump all over them, but that's an advantage of coaching for 40 years," Sutton said. "We made an adjustment and got back out there."

The Cowboys made their first field goal four minutes into the game and began a nine-point run, the first of several streaks by each team in the half. The lead changed eight times, but Pepperdine trailed, 35-31, at the break when Gottlieb made a layup with 5.5 seconds left.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GAME BREAKDOWN

HIGH SCORERS

Pepperdine

Brandon Armstrong, 19

Oklahoma State

Fredrik Jonzen, 21

MOST REBOUNDS

Pepperdine

Kelvin Gibbs, 7

Oklahoma State

Jonzen, 9

MOST ASSISTS

Pepperdine

Tezale Archie, 14

Oklahoma State

Doug Gottlieb, 9

TALE OF THE TAPE

Pepperdine Oklahoma State

TALE OF THE TAPE

*--*

67 Points 75 27 Rebounds 39 21 Assists 17 10 Turnovers 15 .422 FG% .491 .219 3-pt. FG% .500 .500 FT% .667

*--*

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