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SPORTS EXTRA / NCAA TOURNAMENT

Irvine's Season Ends, 75-71

NIT: Anteaters struggle with shooting and fail to capitalize on Tulsa mistakes down stretch.

March 15, 2001|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa withstood a late rally by UC Irvine for a 75-71 victory Wednesday night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

It was the first NIT victory in 20 years for Tulsa (22-11), which is making its eighth appearance in the postseason tournament. The Golden Hurricane advance to play Minnesota, which defeated Villanova, 87-78.

Irvine (25-5) was making only its third postseason appearance--all in the NIT--and its first since 1986.

Tulsa guard Greg Harrington made eight of 11 field goals and led all scorers with 20 points. Center Kevin Johnson added 17 points and eight rebounds. Guard Dante Swanson made all five of his shots for 10 points.

Guard Jerry Green scored 15 points for Irvine. Forward Ben Jones, guard Malachi Edmond and center J.R. Christ added 13 points each.

Irvine struggled from the field, making only 26 of 68 shots, including five of 21 from three-point range.

Green, the Big West Conference player of the year, made only five of 16 shots, Jones was four of 10, Edmond was four of 13 and senior forward Sean Jackson, ranked third in the nation in three-point shooting, made only one of eight three-point attempts.

"I think we had some good looks in the first half and we made our shots," Irvine Coach Pat Douglass said. "But in the second half they adjusted to us and we didn't make the shots we usually make."

Tulsa led, 68-54, with 5:37 to play before Irvine made a run. Edmond's tip-in, Green's dunk and a steal by Edmond that led to a three-point play cut Tulsa's lead to 71-67 with 1:40 remaining. Tulsa then missed three free throws, but Irvine could not capitalize.

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