High in the clouds
Freshman completes Rainbows' run to WAC title, NCAAs
Updated: Sunday March 11, 2001 1:44 AM
TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Hawaii is riding the wave of its recent hot streak right into the NCAA tournament.
The Warriors got a career night from freshman Carl English to beat Tulsa 78-72 in overtime Saturday night in the championship of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
The victory, Hawaii's seventh in the past eight games, sends the Warriors (17-13) to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994 and just the third time in school history.
"We stayed together and executed and made big baskets. They did everything right," coach Riley Wallace said of Tulsa. "We just made the big plays when we had to."
English scored 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range. His leaner in close with 1.8 seconds left in regulation forced overtime, then he scored seven in the extra period.
"My confidence has been high the last 10 games," said English, who averaged 3.9 points during the regular season. "If I make a couple, my confidence gets high and I don't mind taking them."
English had three of his 3s and 14 of his points at halftime. His first basket of the second half didn't come until 3:44 left in regulation, but it brought the Warriors within 64-63.
The next basket by either team was Dante Swanson's shot in the lane with 36 seconds left that gave Tulsa (21-11) a 66-63 lead. English sank two free throws with 18.9 seconds remaining, then David Shelton made one of two free throws for Tulsa with 14.8 to go.
Hawaii then drew up a play for its best player, Predrag Savovic, who was hindered by foul trouble all night. The play broke down and English took the ball inside and scored the tying basket with 1.8 seconds remaining.
"I just drove and put it up there and luckily it went in. That's about it," English said.
"I was just so happy, because if he doesn't make it, it's over," Wallace said. "We called something, it wasn't there and he created, and that's what you've got to do."
Swanson scored early in overtime to give Tulsa the lead, but Nerijus Puida and English then sank back-to-back 3-pointers to start an 8-0 run that gave Hawaii the lead for good.
Antonio Reed, who scored a career-high 19 for Tulsa, hit a 3 with 1:40 left to get the Golden Hurricane within 75-72, but English made four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
English and Mike McIntyre, who made five 3-pointers and scored 19, made up for subpar nights from Savovic and Troy Ostler. Ostler injured an ankle in the first half and had four points in 20 minutes. Savovic finished with seven points, 11 below his average.
"When those two are doing it and we're really keying on Savovic and Ostler and Puida, they're a very tough team to stop," Tulsa coach Buzz Peterson said.
Tulsa was seeking its sixth NCAA tournament berth since 1994, but instead is likely headed to the NIT.
Shelton had 15 points, Swanson 13, and Kevin Johnson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Tulsa.
Hawaii led 59-51 midway through the second half before Tulsa put together an 11-0 run to take the lead with five minutes left. The Hurricane held the lead the rest of the way until English's big shot in the closing seconds.
"Hawaii is playing as well as anyone in this league right now and they'll be a fine representative of our league going into the tournament," Peterson said.