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WAC Notebook

February 27, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



WAC Notebook

by Phil Dailey

“Bracket Buster” not so kind to the WAC

Last Saturday four Western Athletic Conference teams were thrust to the front of
“mid-major” hoops with an attempt to improve their RPI giving the winner an added
boost come NCAA tourney selection time.

Fresno State (19-6, 12-3 WAC) started off the nationally televised one-day
tournament against Creighton. The Bulldogs played well, but fell short by one-point
against the No. 17-ranked Bluejays.

Terry Pettis scored 17 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Noel Felix tossed in
16. Both Major and Jonathan Woods each had 12. Woods also led the Bulldogs had 11
rebounds.

This year’s overachieving Bulldog team showed many critics around the country
that they might not be a fraud. Despite the loss, it may have helped Fresno State get
noticed for an at-large bid if they fall short in the WAC tourney in a few weeks.
Louisiana Tech (12-11, 9-6) was the lone WAC team to host a “Bracket Buster” as
they welcomed Northern Iowa to Ruston, La.

Louisiana Tech had been on recent tear through the WAC, winning its last three games,
but was unable to get it started against the long-range shooting of the Panthers.
Northern Iowa made nine 3-pointers against the Bulldogs, the second most since Rice unloaded
ten back on January 25th.

Antonio Meeking keeps brining it for Tech as he went for 23 points and grabbed seven boards.
Hawai’i (15-8,7-7) has always been known for being a team that can’t win on the
road, and even more, a team that is unable to win in the Eastern Time Zone – a feat
they haven’t accomplished since 1974 – until Saturday night.

After what could easily be called one of the most disappointing seasons in
recent memory, given the talent, the Warriors are only a few weeks away from accepting
a NIT bid – that is if they are unable to win the WAC tourney of course.
Give the Warriors credit for taking on Kent State; a team that made it all the
way to the Elite 8 last season, but this year’s Golden Flashes squad is less talented than
the team that won 30 games only a season ago.

Either way, a win on the road should never be taken for granted, especially when
it comes against a team that has 18 wins.

That’s exactly what Hawai’i got after beating the Golden Flashes 79-78, in Ohio
behind WAC Player of the Year favorite Carl English. English went for 22 points in the
win.

The main event of “Bracket Buster” Saturday was between arguably two of the most
successful “mid-major” teams in the last five years.

Much like Hawai’i, Tulsa (15-9,8-6) has been a “mid-major” letdown this season.
It looked like the Golden Hurricane were in the process of doing the impossible, or
near impossible until last week, of beating Gonzaga on its home floor.

Last Wednesday, the Zags had its 21-game home winning streak broken by Portland.
Gonzaga shot just under 30 percent from the floor in the first half as Tulsa
opened leads of as many as 11 points. The second half proved to be a much different story as
the Bulldogs shot over 53 percent (16-for-30) from the field in the second half
ending the game with a 69-60 win over Tulsa.

Jason Parker led all scorers with 24 points for Tulsa. The loss for the Golden
Hurricane no doubt eliminates them for any hope of gaining an at large bid next month
for the NCAA tourney.

It’s true the WAC only won one of its four games on the nationally televised
“Bracket Buster”, but showed up in all of its games. Unfortunately, for all but one of
these teams (Fresno State) their brackets were busted weeks ago.

WAC Player of the Week

Quintin Ross blew up against Rice (16-8, 8-6) last Saturday for 30 points in the
73-63 win over the Owls. With the win, Southern Methodist (13-12, 8-6) now sits in a tie
for fourth place along with Tulsa and Rice.

Ross also grabbed 11 rebounds along with three steals in the win. This week the Mustangs travel to Boise State (11-13, 5-9) and then to WAC doormat Texas El Paso (4-20, 2-12), which had the honor of dropping its 20th game of the year to Boise
State 69-52 in the BSU Pavilion on Saturday night.

     

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