Idaho got some scares but no scars while taking the Big Sky tournament on its home court. Weber State kept the Vandals off balance throughout a semifinal matchup by frequently varying both its offense and defense. But Idaho, which blew a 12-point first-half advantage, came out on top 57-55. At the intermission in the finale, Nevada-Reno led the Vandals 36-34 and had outrebounded them 23-14. Then Idaho put on a 15-6 spurt and won 85-80. Vandal Guard Ken Owens, who scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half and who had eight steals in two games, was the tournament's MVP.
More than 3,000 Fresno State fans traveled 225 miles to the PCAA tournament in Anaheim. They weren't disappointed. The Red Wave beat Long Beach State 76-55 and Fullerton State 69-57. Donald Mason, the tournament MVP, scored a total of 43 points.
WCAC champ Pepperdine edged Loyola-Marymount 105-104 in overtime, its fourth OT victory during a winning streak that has now reached 14. Second-place San Francisco, which is also NCAA-bound, knocked off Santa Clara 91-83. Wyoming joined the party by locking up the WAC title.
Six seconds into the Virginia-North Carolina showdown in the ACC finals, James Worthy of the Tar Heels stuffed a shot. That was the start of eight near-perfect minutes for Carolina, which during that time didn't commit an error or foul and built a 24-12 lead. The Cavaliers came back to lead by three early in the second half, but then the Heels set up a screen that freed Michael Jordan for four straight jumpers. With a 44-43 lead, North Carolina went into its 4-C spread offense. Four seconds from the end, Matt Doherty sank both ends of a one-and-one foul opportunity to put the Tar Heels up 47-43, after which they gave up an uncontested basket. The Tar Heels reached the finals by walloping Georgia Tech 55-39 and North Carolina State 58-46. Virginia trailed Clemson 54-46 with 4:19 left in the first round, but won 56-54. Guard Othell Wilson of the Cavaliers suffered a thigh injury early in that game and missed the rest of the tournament. In the semis, Virginia overcame Wake Forest's late slowdown and won 51-49 in OT when Ricky Stokes rebounded his own miss and scored a basket just before the buzzer. Virginia, Wake Forest and N.C. State all received at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
With the score 33-33 at halftime of the title game against Villanova in the Big East tournament, Georgetown Coach John Thompson gave his team what he called "the greatest 10-minute speech ever on defense, on how we would zone press and fall back into a zone." As Thompson returned to the court, however, Hoya Guard Eric Smith dared to suggest that the team play man-to-man instead. Thompson said, "It's yours. Do it." G'town did it and won 72-54. Earlier the Hoyas had defeated Providence 62-48 and St. John's 57-42. Georgetown, Villanova, Boston College and St. John's will all represent the Big East in the NCAAs.
What turned on Pitt during the finals of the Eastern Eight tournament were the words of the opposing coach, Gale Catlett of West Virginia. After beating the Panthers two weeks earlier, Catlett had labeled their program "mediocre." Last week, Pitt used an effective 1-3-1 trap defense against the Mountaineers and won 79-72. The Panthers' not-so-mediocre reward: an NCAA berth. West Virginia got a spot in the NCAAs, too.
Also revved up for the big tournament was Ivy League champ Penn, which ended the regular season with a 14-game winning streak. Others who received bids were St. Joseph's, Robert Morris, Northeastern, Old Dominion, Tennessee-Chattanooga, James Madison and North Carolina A&T.
Missouri showed 'em. The Tigers, who hadn't won a semifinal game in a Big Eight tournament in three years, finally did so by upending Nebraska 58-53. What made the victory doubly sweet and doubly important was that Mizzou gained revenge against the team that had broken its 19-game victory streak earlier in the season and that the Tigers prevailed without the services of defensive ace Moon McCrary. McCrary took an elbow in the face late in the first half of a first-round game and missed the rest of the tournament. Oklahoma won the other semifinal, upsetting NCAA-bound Kansas State for the second time, 68-62. The Sooners, picked to end up last in the Big Eight, raised their record to 19-9 as Chuck Barnett scored 26 points, most on long-range line-drive jumpers that riddled the Wildcats' 3-2 zone. In the title match, Missouri's Jon Sundvold and Ricky Frazier were the marksmen. Sundvold sank six straight floor shots, all from 20-foot range, in the opening eight minutes and wound up with 21 points. Frazier hit on 12 of 14 shots and grabbed nine rebounds as the Tigers won 68-63. With McCrary injured, Prince Bridges guarded Barnett, the conference's top scorer, and limited him to eight points.