NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT : Pepperdine Battles, but Maryland Still Wins

Times Staff Writer

Once again Friday, Pepperdine was ousted from the NCAA basketball tournament by an Atlantic Coast Conference team.

But the Waves didn't leave quietly, giving Maryland all kinds of problems before the Terrapins earned a 69-64 win in a West Regional first-round game at the Long Beach Arena.

Last year, Duke had a fairly easy time ousting Pepperdine in the first round, and, in 1983, North Carolina State took out the Waves in the opening round before going on to win the national title.

On Friday, Pepperdine presented Maryland with some difficulties, but the Terrapins had the answer--All-American Len Bias, who scored a game-high 26 points.

Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick had said before the game that his team would try to contain Bias and not let him get inside if possible.

But Bias, the ACC player of the year, hit from outside and inside (7 of 14 from the floor). And he made 12 of 14 free throws, many of them on fouls he drew while driving to the basket.

In order for the Waves to have had a chance, Harrick said, all six of his regulars would have had to "play good and two guys had to play very good for us to beat Maryland . . . and that didn't happen.

"They had one guy who played very good."

Dwayne Polee played a good first half for Pepperdine, scoring 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting. Six of those points keyed a 12-4 run that brought the Waves, who trailed, 27-19, with about five minutes left in the period, to a 31-31 tie by halftime.

But Polee didn't hit a basket in the second half and finished with 12 points, going 4 for 4 from the foul line.

Polee also got into a shoving match with Bias in the first half, and technical fouls were called on both players. Bias shot the technicals and made both of them. And Grant Gondrezick made one of two for the Waves.

After Pepperdine's first-half comeback, Maryland came out in the second half and made three quick baskets. Jeff Baxter hit a 15-footer, followed by a 12-footer and a slam by Tom Jones on an alley-oop pass from Keith Gatlin. Suddenly, Maryland led, 37-31.

Terrapin Coach Lefty Driesell said that Pepperdine's 2-3 zone "gave us trouble in the first half."

But, surprisingly, the Waves went to a man-to-man defense at the beginning of the second half, which seemed to lead to the three quick Maryland baskets.

Said Harrick: "We opened up the court a little bit by going man-to-man. I wanted to up the tempo because . . . I thought we were a lot quicker than they were."

The Waves showed they were quicker, but only after falling behind, 55-43, when Bias drove the baseline and dunked with 6:25 remaining.

But Pepperdine forced some Maryland turnovers, leading to two key baskets by Gondrezick, who finished with 17 points, the same as Eric White. And Pepperdine outscored Maryland, 14-5, to cut the lead to 60-57 on a corner shot by Jon Korfas.

With 39 seconds left, Gondrezick made the front end of a one-and-one, and Maryland's lead was just 62-60.

But Gondrezick fouled Bias when the latter rebounded Gondrezick's missed free throw in the one-and-one, and Bias connected on both ends of his one-and-one to make it 64-60, Maryland.

And time ran out for Pepperdine, which finished with a 25-5 overall record. Maryland improved to 19-13.

In the post-game press conference, Harrick spent nearly as much time fielding questions about coaching vacancies that he might fill as he did about the game.

Harrick said that, if there was a key play in his team's loss, it happened when Pepperdine was trailing by three points but was on a two-on-one fast break.

Anthony Frederick dunked off the break to apparently pull his team to within one point. But Pepperdine was called for traveling before Frederick made the shot, and the Waves turned the ball over.

As for the job offers coming his way, Harrick said that he has had "two cups of coffee," one of them with Ohio State and the other with Houston." But he added that he wasn't offered the Ohio State job.

"I'm sure I'll have a decision to make next week," he said. "But none said, 'Hey. We want you here. Maybe I'm wrong."

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