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NCAA Tournament Recap (Siena-Arkansas)

Posted: Thur March 11, 1999 at 9:10 p.m. EST

DENVER (Ticker) -- Fourth-seeded Arkansas used a deadly 3-point assault to rout 13th-seeded Siena, 94-80, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the West Region.

Chris Walker scored 14 points and hit 4-of-5 from 3-point range as the Razorbacks (23-10) sank 15-of-30 shots from beyond the arc, including 10-of-18 in the first half, when they raced to a 49-31 lead.

"I thought Siena played hard," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said. "They fought to the end. We just had a great day shooting the basketball. I'm just happy that we get to move on and play another day."

Chris Jeffries added 16 points for Arkansas, which will take on fifth-seeded Iowa in the second round Saturday. The Razorbacks have won 10 consecutive first-round NCAA Tournament games since an 82-74 setback to Villanova in 1988.

"It's hard for a team to defend us when we're shooting the ball so well because most teams expect us to attack the basket," said Arkansas guard Kareem Reid, who had 10 assists to become the school's alltime leader. "We came out trying to stop Siena's 3s and ended up hitting our 3s."

After winning 25 games, many thought Siena (25-6) had a chance to spring a first-round upset, but the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions were no match for the more talented Razorbacks.

The Saints tried to run with Arkansas early and it proved to be a mistake as the Razorbacks built a 29-8 cushion just 8 1/2 minutes into the game. Arkansas led by as many as 24 on three occasions in the second half and improved to 15-1 this season when scoring at least 80 points.

"We pretty much got 3'd out of the building," Siena coach Paul Hewitt said. "Coming into this ballgame and I said it all year, if a team can hit 3s on us, we'll be in trouble."

Arkansas never trailed, building a 9-2 lead on Walker's 3-pointer with 17:27 remaining. After a foul shot by Siena's Jim Cantamesa made it 17-8, the Razorbacks reeled off 12 straight points, building a 21-point bulge on Brandon Dean's layup with 11:30 left.

"When we're hitting our shots, our defense picks up and we're a better basketball team," Arkansas guard Pat Bradley said. "When we have four or five guys hitting we're tough to stop."

Arkansas extended its cushion to 77-53 on a free throw by T.J. Cleveland before the Saints made the final respectable.

The Razorbacks, who lost to Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference tournament final last Sunday, are making their 10th tournament appearance in 14 years under Richardson and improved to 39-23 alltime in NCAA play.

Arkansas was ousted in the second round last year by Utah, the eventual runner-up.

Marcus Faison scored 18 points and Corey Osinski added 17 for Siena, which earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since stunning third-seeded Stanford, 80-78, in the first round in 1989. Faison also committed nine turnovers.

"We were going in the tempo we wanted," Osinski said. "We just didn't knock our shots down. The tempo was in our favor, that's the way we like to play. But I guess in the game, they got the ball quicker than we thought they would."

Derek Hood scored 12 points for Arkansas, making all five shots from the field, while Bradley and Dean each added 10 for the Razorbacks, who shot 50 percent (34-of-68) from the field and forced 24 turnovers.

"We need to keep games like a street fight," Richardson said. "We can't afford to get into a boxing match. In a boxing match, you have a lot more halfcourt offense and tactical moves. We need to be scrappy out there and keep things like a street fight."

Siena shot 45 percent (29-of-65) and made just 5-of-18 3-pointers. After shooting 33 percent in the opening 20 minutes, the Saints warmed up to shoot 50 percent in the second half, but could not get the deficit below 14.

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP



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